Representatives from many of Cache Valley’s nonprofit organizations gathered for a discussion Wednesday afternoon on how they could better serve minority populations throughout the valley.
“It’s more than just a language barrier,” said Emily Malik, the City of Logan conservation coordinator. Malik is part of the Cache Interagency Council, the group that hosted Wednesday’s panel.
During the panel discussion, participants brought up concerns they had, from overcoming language barriers and becoming more culturally sensitive to figuring out which communication mediums work best for reaching certain groups.
Answering many of the questions were Christopher Gonzalez, director of the Latinx Center at Utah State University, and Melissa Brimhall, the volunteer coordinator at Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection.
When it comes to language barriers, Brimhall said patience is key.
“I know that is not the fix-all answer, but it really is surprising that with a couple of words here and a couple of words there and Google images that you can fill out a 10-page paper accurately without translation,” Brimhall said.
When it comes to methods for spreading information, Brimhall said staff at the Connection have learned word-of-mouth leads to their most successful events.
Beyond that, she said they often send direct Facebook messages because their clients don’t usually engage with general Facebook posts.
Gonzalez said he has learned Facebook videos are one of the best tools for reaching members of Cache Valley’s Latino communities.
“You want to get something to them?” Gonzalez said. “Put it in a video form and on Facebook and it will spread. And that is something that I would have not thought of.”
In contrast, when it comes to communicating with students, Gonzalez said he has had to train them to actually check their email.
“We communicate via email, social media, and they all work differently for different people,” Gonzalez said.
Successfully reaching out and building relationships across cultural differences is something Gonzalez said takes time and a willingness to be creative.
“We have to be so flexible in trying different approaches,” Gonzalez said, “approaches that may even make no sense to us. It doesn’t make sense to us because we only have certain experiences of our own culture.”