Students at Centro La Esperanza learn how to 'bridge the gap'.

By: Fida Georges
By: Fida Georges

Centro "La Esperanza" is a non-profit organization that provides resources and referral services for the Hispanic Community. It also serves as an advocate in the areas of health and education. Founder and director Celia Lopez knows first hand the challenges Hispanics face when integrating in American society.

Lopez says "a person who doesn't speak English is like being blind or deaf, they don't know what's going on. And its not good to say I speak a little bit of English they have to be proficient in the language."

The Center hosted "Bridging the Gap" where students specialize in basic interpretation skills pertaining to the medical field and learn the importance of understanding culture when interpreting.

Health program specialist Nelson Atehortua is a foreign medical graduate and a candidate for the Master of Public Health Degree at Western.

He says proper translations are not only important when it comes down to a life of death situation in an emergency.

Atehortua says "they have to know how to handle ethical issues - not only the terms in the medical settings."

Foreign medical graduate Juan Gutierrez has a Master of Science in Occupation Safety and Health and says proper translating can significantly improve the quality of life for Hispanics working in the US.

Mike Padgett is a Pastor from Glasgow who spent 11 years as a missionary in Costa Rica. He says although he and others in his family are fluent in Spanish he now feels better prepared to represent both the medical and patient side of a situation.

Padgett says "this course has really helped me realize some mistakes that I've made and has clarified a lot of things for me."

He also says this is an important step towards the future of the growing Hispanic population in the area.

The Alliance Project is a direct congressional appropriation from Senator Mc Connell and a partnership between the South Central AHEC at Western Kentucky University and Centro La Esperanza.

This is the third time the center has hosted the program and plans are in order for additional sessions next year should funding become available.

For more information, you can contact Celia Lopez at 270-846-2222.


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