Many Guatemalans who emigrate to the United States don’t speak Spanish, let alone English. Instead, they speak one of the country’s many indigenous languages. Rosendo Aguilar came to the US because he couldn’t live comfortably as a gay man in his home town. He was initially scared when asked in court about his legal status—but that was the first step in a surprising path that led to his current job as a Mam interpreter working around the country.
Many of the new farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley are indigenous. They speak dozens of languages and often, no Spanish at all. One hospital in the Salinas Valley is figuring out how to provide services in languages like Mixteca, Zapoteca and Triqui. Reporter Lisa Morehouse has this story.
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Image: Dr. Peter Chandler, Victor Sosa, Petra Leon, and Angelica Isidro go from English, to Spanish, to Mixteco. Leon, a Mixteco speaker, plans to give birth at Natividad in a couple of months. Photo courtesy of Lisa Morehouse.
Lisa Morehouse is a public radio and print journalist, who has filed for National Public Radio, American Public Media, KQED Public Radio, Edutopia, and McSweeney’s. Her reporting has taken her from Samoan traveling circuses to Mississippi Delta classrooms to the homes of Lao refugees in rural Iowa. For the last year she’s reported and produced a public radio series New Harvest: The Future of Small Town California KQED’s The California Report. KALW is currently airing pieces she created while teaching radio production to incarcerated youth.