Living as a Global Citizen: The Global Language Bank of West Michigan

The Red Cross Mission is to provide relief to victims of armed conflicts or disaster and assist people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Through our International Services programs we further the global efforts of the Red Cross by educating the community about these efforts and by facilitating communication among new arrivals such as refugees and immigrants, the organizations that serve them, and families facing communication barriers caused by language, armed conflicts and emergencies. The ability to serve those with limited English ability, especially newly arrived residents to our counties, enables the Chapter not only to help these families meet their basic needs, but also to fulfill the organization’s broader mission by preparing new immigrants and refugees to respond appropriately in the case of a crisis, disaster or other emergency.

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Daniel Kim, the Global Language Bank coordinator in West Michigan

The Global Language Bank Internship Program was founded with the idea of providing a high quality internship opportunity to international college students and translators/interpreters to English as Second Language (ESL) clients in emergency and disaster situations. The Global Language Bank Internship program was developed to meet changing community needs. Services to these individuals are provided free of charge. Furthermore, we have created the cultural competency book to provide assistance both within the Chapter (to other Red Cross departments such as Services to the Armed Forces, Disaster and Volunteer Services) and to other non-profit humanitarian service providers.

New Image2Currently, we have 13 linguistic interns and volunteers who collectively speak more than 15 different languages and dialects and are available seven days a week. The Language Bank provides in-person and over-the-phone interpretation as well as written translations. The Language Bank will promote the Red Cross international services to migrants, refugees, new arrivals and their community groups and service providers with their language abilities in translating official documents, interpretation in interviews, outreach presentation, creating the cultural competency book and more. The Global Language Bank work of multilingual interns and volunteers promises to be a very valuable contribution to the humanitarian work of the American Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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