National Language Service Corps provided interpreting services in Vietnamese for Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus during his August 2 – 7 series of town meetings in communities affected by the oil leak in the Gulf.
Traveling with him was NLSC Member Terry Trinh of Dana Point, California, who served as Secretary Mabus’ Vietnamese interpreter. Trinh was with Mabus at the town hall meeting in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, where the Secretary met with Gulf residents to get their input and feedback on ongoing plans to clean up the Gulf.
The White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPPI) made the request to support Secretary Mabus with Vietnamese interpreting skills. WHIAPPI co-ordinates efforts across several agencies to provide access to English-based services for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with limited English skills.
An opportunity to demonstrate the NLSC’s readiness, the time between the original request and Trinh’s deployment was about 72 hours.
NLSC Deputy Director for Operations Verónica Coon also consulted with the town hall organizers to how to set up the events for effective and unobtrusive interpreting.
While on the trip, Trinh not only interpreted for Vietnamese speakers asking questions during the town hall meetings, he let them know before the meetings began that he was available for interpreting assistance. In addition, he assisted them when filling out the claims forms and dealing with the many agencies that were also there to help. A staffer from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, commented, “we appreciated [the NLSC team’s] professionalism and thoroughly enjoyed working with you all”.About the National Language Service Corps:
NLSC is a group of multilingual individuals that make themselves available to serve their country in the event of a sudden need for their language skills. They are united by the fundamental belief that language has a tremendous impact on who we are; who we can be; and what we can do together. In addition to making a significant and worthwhile contribution to the nation and its language communities, Members become part of a unique language network of service-minded individuals. All Members currently must be U.S. Citizens who are at least 18 years or older, possess language expertise and have a genuine desire to help their fellow language communities. Additional information about the National Language Service Corps is available at nlscorps.org.
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