Testimonies of Interns and Mentors
Pamela Espinoza, Spanish and English major
He tenido el placer y el privilegio de trabajar como intérprete de español por tres años en la Clínica Legal de la Universidad de Villanova. Como mentora, he aprendido mucho sobre el sistema legal y especialmente las dificultades que enfrentan los inmigrantes cuando vienen a este país. Además, tengo la oportunidad de trabajar junto con profesores de leyes, estudiantes y defensores que dedican sus vidas a mejorar nuestro sistema legal y nuestra sociedad. Como mentora he sido testigo de las formas en que la Clínica ha cambiado la vida de las personas que vienen a buscar ayuda en tiempos desesperados.
Deborah Alvarenga, Spanish and Criminology major
Working in the clinical program, both as an intern and now as a mentor, has provided me with an incredible opportunity to work for justice for migrants and refugees right here on my college campus. My parents are immigrants from Honduras, and all of my extended family and my community back home in New Orleans are also immigrants from Latin America so the work that is done in the clinic is really important to me. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to use my ability to speak two languages to break language barriers and serve the Latinx community. I have also learned so much more about the legal process and the struggles of migrants and refugees by directly hearing their stories and doing the work of making sure that they are heard and understood. As an interpreter, there is something very powerful and humbling about sharing real, heartbreaking stories in the first-person and being a voice for people facing injustices.
Sophia Hernandez, Biology Major and Latin American Studies minor
During the Fall of 2016, I participated in the Community Interpreter Internship at the VU Law School Clinics. As an intern, with the help of the mentors and Professors, I learned how to interpret meetings of student lawyers and their clients, how to ensure that the written translation was accurate, and many skills that would help me perfect my written and oral Spanish. The next year, I was offered the opportunity to become a mentor and help the interns learn and grow throughout the semesters. As a mentor I continued to form great relationships with the faculty of the VU Law School Clinic, I have developed leadership skills, learned about the justice system in the Philadelphia area, and learned about the current issues that dominate in Central and South America. My work has not been limited to Asylum and Farm-worker cases, I have also had the opportunity to work with the Tax and Health Clinics since the clients that come to our Clinic have an array of needs that we try to aid with. It has been an enriching and rewarding experience, I have developed a passion for Latin American studies and a love for the Spanish language, apart from knowing that by using a skill that I previously had, I am facilitating many conversations that could have been impossible, and making a positive impact in the lives of many people.