team will help Hispanics find their place
in area communities
College professor and student are teaming up to help area Hispanics find
a better life in north central Indiana. With considerable research and a
couple of grants, this summer Dr. Ingrid Rogers and senior Tim
Polakowski are developing a guide book – in Spanish – of important
resources in the area.
Both have worked
for several years among the area’s growing Mexican immigrant population,
particularly providing English as a second language (ESL) at the
in North Manchester. Students in Rogers’ Spanish classes volunteer as
assistants in the ESL classes, helping with pronunciation, checking
written assignments for accuracy and engaging the Hispanic students in
especially focusing on the communities of North Manchester and Akron,
home to at least 650 Hispanics, Polakowski said.
It’s clear that
more outreach is needed to Hispanics settling in the area, Rogers said.
“We interviewed employers, physicians, police, business people,
teachers, bank employees and others who frequently come in contact with
our Mexican population,” she said.
“Most perceive the language barrier as the biggest hurdle in
interacting with immigrants.
“The lack of
accessible information makes it difficult for Hispanics to function in
the community and occasionally leads to drastic cross-cultural clashes.”
immigrants say poor language skills prevent them from finding their way
around town, and from performing important tasks, such as opening a bank
account to keep their money safe, getting medical and family services,
enrolling their children in school, and accessing other basic
information. “One woman spent hours in search of the local library
because she could not ask for directions,” Rogers said.
is majoring in Spanish and social work, has a $4,000 Lilly Endowment
grant through the College’s Office of Career Services to work with
Rogers on the 10-week project. The Rockton, Ill., senior also
received a $1,500 service venture grant from Ball Brothers Foundation through
Independent Colleges of Indiana.
are collecting information on available resources for a 150-page guide
to area schools, health clinics, medical information, emergency
contacts, family resources, children’s services, adult education,
churches, legal services and social agencies. The booklet has maps, too.
and Rogers scoured agencies, businesses, schools, police, foundation,
organizations and the Internet for brochures, contacts and information.
Then, they contacted schools, banks and other businesses and agencies to
understand their needs regarding outreach to Spanish-speaking clients.
Of course, the research includes hundreds of conversations with area
Hispanics – at church, in stores, at events and gatherings.
consultation with their sources, the two are translating text into
Spanish, securing reprint permissions, editing, formatting and proofing.
The final phase consists of publishing, presenting and distributing the
free resource guide – making it readily available, again based on their
research. They hope to have the guide ready for distribution when
children return to school in mid-August.
For more about
the Hispanic guide book project, or to suggest information, contact
Ingrid Rogers at
firstname.lastname@example.org, 260-982-5374, or Tim Polakowski at
To find more
about opportunities at Manchester College, visit