Global Connections’ interpreters lend a voice to those needing help

June 28, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When it comes to serving Centre County’s international population, Global Connections wants to make sure nothing gets lost in the translation.

Global Connections, an affiliate of Penn State and the United Way of Centre County, has built a list of 36 interpreters who can aid local authorities in serving the community. Interpreters assist such groups as the State College Borough Police, State College Area School District, Centre County Women’s Resource Center, and Centre Volunteers in Medicine.

“The interpreters were all very helpful to the parents, teachers and students," said Elizabeth Richards, an English as a second language (ESL) teacher at Park Forest Middle School. "The interpreters were prompt, professional and kind, making communication between the teachers and the family very smooth,”

At Easterly Parkway Elementary School, an interpreter helped determine the barriers preventing an ESL student’s English skills from improving. Teacher Emily Kao said, "It was heartbreaking to see such an outgoing, eager child struggling to communicate with their peers. There were questions concerning whether this was occurring simply because the child was learning a new language or if a language difference was the underlying factor. After reaching out to Global Connections, they eagerly helped to identify interpreters who spoke the same language as this student. We found a volunteer who was willing to come in and speak with the child in their home language to observe if the language difference was occurring in the child’s first language and not just as the child spoke English.

"Sure enough," added Kao, "the interpreter quickly noticed and shared with our instructional team that the child was displaying a language difference and difficulties producing certain sounds in the first language. Having gained this insight, it expedited the process for us to put supports in place for the child, including speech support. We are so grateful to be able to provide early intervention to meet this child’s needs, and we were able to do so with Global Connection’s support."

Additionally, Global Connections assisted emergency services in Centre County by producing “I Speak …” cards that help internationals notify first responders of their native language during emergencies.

“It’s to help us help them connect most faster to a translator,” said Barbara Berenty of the Centre County Emergency Communications Center. Berenty said calls to 911 via translation apps, or apps that make phone calls, don’t work or are inconsistent. Calls should be made directly via phone, she said, and the cards are designed to make that easier for internationals.

Interpreters are available for Arabic, Chinese/Mandarin, Czech, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Malay, Malinke, Portuguese and Spanish.

For more information, call 814-863-3927 or email

About Global Connections

Global Connections is a nonprofit, community-based organization affiliated with the United Way of Centre County and Penn State. Its mission is to strengthen the cultural fabric of our diverse community through partnerships, service, education and advocacy. For more than 50 years, the organization has provided services to the international community and expanded the cultural competency of the region’s residents. Global Connections’ services include English as a second language classes, cultural exchange programs, and tax filing assistance. To learn more, go to

Last Updated June 28, 2018