Hannah Berk

Hannah Berk will be studying government and comparative literature at the College until she graduates in December 2015. She spends her spare time teaching Hannah Berkfree ESL classes to adults, working as a Research Assistant with the TRIP Global Pathways program on campus, and managing social media for Asymptote, an international online journal for world literature in translation. She intends to put her life to use in the service of human rights and great writing, wherever that may take her.

The Right to Know Your Rights: Language Access in the Justice System

If no bridge spans the language gap, people are bound to fall through.

When a miscommunication between her Spanish-speaking aunt and a nurse led to improper care and physical harm, Nicole Goldin says, she wondered why there wasn’t someone on staff twenty-four hours a day to make sure the patient could express what was wrong, to make sure the hospital staff could explain the treatments they administered. Her despair at seeing someone she loved suffer because of the language gap made Goldin determined to become the bridge herself.

Hospitals aren’t the only places where a few words can change a person’s life. Goldin has now been a registered Spanish language court interpreter with the Louisiana Supreme Court for two years, freelancing her services to New Orleans area courts when she isn’t working as a counselor. She receives more requests than she can respond to herself, the emails pouring in from courts that lack staff interpreters and attorneys whose clients require language services beyond the courtroom.

Read the rest of Hannah's story here.