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City translators answer the call to keep minority communities safe

City of Tulsa Translators
Posted at 3:30 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 22:07:10-04

TULSA, Okla. — When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, disseminating information is crucial to keep the community safe.

However, diverse cultures make up Tulsa's landscape, which means English broadcasts do no good for those unable to understand it.

To combat the issue, a team of City of Tulsa translators are answering the call at all hours of the day to keep their communities safe.

Day and night, it's a job the team of three does not take lightly.

In Tulsa alone more than 60,000 are Spanish-speaking residents, while more than 10,000 make up the Burmese and Zomi population.

"I really believe diversity is the only true thing we have all [encompassed],” said Lehabim Escoto-Flores, the community involvement coordinator for the city. “We need to celebrate that.”

Escoto-Flores has been providing the Spanish-speaking community updates. He began translating for the City last May when the area saw significant flooding.

Tawi Buansing and Awi Lun also work for the City and translate for the Burmese and Zomi-speaking communities.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, breaking language barriers is now more important than ever. The translating team is answering the call while they also maintain their regular day-to-day jobs.

"All kinds of disaster, all emergency,” Escoto-Flores said. “Emergency and disaster... pandemic... they don't know borders, they don't know language. They don't discriminate. Everyone needs to know what is happening. Everyone needs to know what to do."

These translators call Tulsa home and take pride in providing a line of communication to their minority communities.

“That’s the only resource available for them to get the latest information,” Buansing said.

From official documents, news releases and live conferences, these city interpreters are filling a gap by providing a lifeline.

"We feel like it is our goal nobody is left behind,” Lun said.

After each City of Tulsa news conference, those who need translations can find interpretations on the City’s Facebook page, as well as the Tulsa Health Department.

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