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Beyond Translation, a successful Hispanic initiative at EPA

2008 May 1

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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I recently attended a briefing on the new National Survey of Hispanic Voters on Environmental Issues (PDF) (9 pp, 4.8 MB), jointly sponsored by the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change and the Sierra Club.

Among the survey’s findings, over 80 percent of the Latino voters polled said that energy and environmental issues have “a lot” or “some” impact on the quality of life and health of their families. The presenters noted that the survey dispels the common myth that Hispanics do not care about the environment. Here, at EPA, we do not buy into that misrepresentation of our fellow Hispanic- Americans. In fact, over the years, we have been actively reaching out to the Hispanic community via the Web, the traditional Hispanic media and to Hispanic community leaders throughout the nation.

In 2005, EPA launched its consolidated Spanish Web site which has been receiving an ever-growing number of Spanish-speaking visitors from the U.S. and worldwide.

In 2006, EPA Region 6 launched an important Hispanic community forum in San Antonio, Texas designed to promote a greater environmental stewardship among Hispanics. This EPA initiative, Beyond Translation, essentially evolved from EPA’s National Hispanic Outreach Strategy, yet it has gained a life of its own.

As the title suggests, the main objective is to go beyond translating EPA publications into Spanish, but to truly engage the Hispanic community as partners to improve access to environmental and public health information in a relevant manner while fostering greater involvement en nuestras comunidades.

Beyond Translation is gaining momentum. At EPA Research Triangle Park, they have quickly adapted the initiative to the needs of Hispanic leaders and partners in North Carolina and others EPA regions will soon follow suit.

Stay tuned—there might be a Beyond Translation forum near you (PDF) (8 pp, 6.4 MB) in the near future!

Más allá de las traducciones, una exitosa iniciativa hispana en EPA.

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.
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Recientemente asistí a una reunión sobre la nueva Encuesta Nacional de Votantes Hispanos sobre Temas Ambientales (PDF, 9 pages, 4.8 MB), auspiciada conjuntamente por la Coalición Nacional Latina sobre el Cambio Climático y el Sierra Club (PDF, 2 pages, 88 KB).

Entre los hallazgos del sondeo, se destaca que sobre el 80 por ciento de los votantes latinos entrevistados dijeron que los asuntos energéticos y medioambientales tienen “muchas” o “bastantes” repercusiones en la calidad de vida y de la salud de nuestras familias. Según los presentadores, la encuesta desvanece el mito común de que los hispanos no se interesan por el medio ambiente. Aquí en EPA, nosotros no aceptamos esa exposición errónea de nuestros conciudadanos hispanos. De hecho, hemos realizado numerosas actividades de alcance público hacia la comunidad hispana vía el Web, los medios hispanos tradicionales y a los líderes de la comunidad latina a través de la nación.

En el 2005, EPA lanzó su sitio Web en español el cual recibe un siempre creciente número de visitantes de habla hispana en los Estados Unidos y del mundo entero.

En el 2006, la Oficina Regional 6 de EPA lanzó un importante foro comunitario hispano en San Antonio, Texas diseñado para promover una mayor protección ambiental entre los hispanos. Esta iniciativa, Más allá de las traducciones (Beyond Translation), esencialmente evolucionó de la Estrategia Nacional de Alcance Público Hispano de EPA, mas ha cobrado vida propia.

Como el título sugiere, el objetivo principal consiste en ir más allá de la traducción de publicaciones de EPA, para así atraer a la comunidad hispana como socios a fin de mejorar el acceso a la información ambiental y de salud pública de una manera relevante mientras también se fomenta una mayor participación de nuestras comunidades.

Más allá de las traducciones (Beyond Translation) está cobrando auge. En nuestras oficinas del Triángulo (EPA Research Triangle Park), han adaptado la iniciativa a las necesidades de los líderes y socios hispanos en Carolina el Norte.

Otras regiones de EPA están siguiendo su ejemplo. ¡Manténgase en sintonía—podría celebrarse otro foro de BT (por sus siglas en inglés) cerca de usted en un futuro cercano!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Sierra Club permalink
    May 1, 2008

    Thank you for sharing the results of the Sierra Club first-ever national survey of Hispanic voters on environmental issues. All the results and discussion are online at http://www.sierraclub.org/ecocentro/survey and you can contact ecocentro@sierraclub.org for more information or to discuss ways to use the new polling information to support your work.

  2. Rodolfo Escobedo permalink
    May 2, 2008

    Como comentas en tu articulo, cada vez mas personas hispanohablantes consultamos la pagina web de la EPA, para tener informacion “fresca” de las cuestiones ambientales. Por ejemplo yo consulto minimo una vez por semana la pagina, porque mi actividad profesional esta muy relacionada con la disminucion de la contaminacion ambiental de la industria. Aunque la formacion de Quimicos no “obliga” a hablar y entender en Ingles, es mucho mas agradable leer esta importante informacion en nuestro bello idioma el Español. Asi que no me queda por agradecer esta iniciativa de ampliar la informacion disponible a todol el publico hispanoparlante. Gracias

  3. A U.S. Citizen permalink
    May 5, 2008

    Why was this post conducted in Spanish? If the goal here is to share information to the American public then, keep it English!

  4. Lina Younes-EPA permalink*
    May 6, 2008

    I am aware that not everyone that visits our blog is fully bilingual. Nonetheless, I would like to share the Spanish comments we received from one of our fellow bloggers. Here’s a translation of Mr. Escobedo’s comments:

    “As you comment in your article, more and more Spanish speakers consult the EPA Web site to find “fresh” information on environmental issues. I visit it at least once a week because my professional activities are related to the reduction of air pollution in industry. Even though in training to become a chemist, they “force” us to speak and understand English, it is much more enjoyable to read this important information in our beautiful language, Spanish. Therefore, I would like to express my appreciation for this initiative of broadening the information available to the Spanish-speaking public. Thanks.”

    Now– I would like to thank Mr. Escobedo for taking the time to comment in Spanish and encourage him to visit the EPA Web site. And I would like to reiterate that we have tried to improve EPA Spanish language materials on the Web. Our goal is to increase environmental awareness so that everyone can become a better environmental steward–on Earth Day and everyday–anywhere in the world.

    Insofar as the comments of our fellow U.S. Citizen, I would like to direct him to the U.S. Census Report on Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000:[http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-29.pdf]
    which shows that over 18 percent of the total population of Americans aged 5 and over report4ed they speak a language other than English at home.

    By providing environmental information in Spanish and other languages, here at EPA, we are trying to lift linguistic barriers to foster greater environmental understanding regardless of the language spoken so that we can all work together as partners to protect the environment.

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