News: Belizean teachers assist New Horizons as translators
Story by Tech. Sgt. Kali Gradishar
PROGRESSO, Belize - Eight teachers and the principal at Progresso Roman Catholic School in Progresso, Belize, volunteered their time April 10-12 to help translate between U.S. and Canadian health care providers during New Horizons Belize 2014.
The school officials assisted with translations during general medical, dental and eye exams for patients more comfortable speaking Spanish. Though many people in the region may understand and speak English, they may not be as comfortable with the language as they are with Spanish.
"A lot of the people are hearing what the doctors are saying in English. They might understand, but they may not feels as comfortable responding in English," said Delia Peralte, the school principal.
Residents in the Corozal, Belize, region received free medical care as part of a medical readiness training exercise, or MEDRETE. The exercise offered U.S. and Canadian military doctors and nurses the opportunity to train and interact with their Belizean counterparts.
While many of the health care providers spoke at least some Spanish, the majority spoke conversational Spanish and were unclear of some medical terms important in communicating with their patients.
"I saw that most of the doctors are trying to speak Spanish and could survive without us here to translate because they know enough," Peralte said. "But we volunteered to help wherever we could."
"Everything seemed to be going very good," she said.
New Horizons is a multifaceted, international exercise geared toward providing mutual training opportunities between host nation and U.S. service members while assisting the host nation population in various capacities. In addition to the MEDRETES, New Horizons Belize 2014 also involves Belize Defence Force and U.S. military engineers constructing five school facilities and one medical care facility in Belize.