By Carole Sakach, administrative assistant, Business Office
Another layer has been added to the service provided by the BC Business Office – communication in a second language, Spanish. The U.S. Census Bureau found that Hispanics in the U.S. increased by 15.2 million, or grew by 43 percent between 2000 and 2010. Brookhaven reflects this expansion and has experienced a growth in its multicultural student population.
Deanie Martin, director of business operations, was motivated by the desire to increase our understanding of the barriers someone from a different culture and language may feel when interacting with us. She assessed our ability to meet student needs and to provide solutions. Deanie coordinated with Continuing Education to provide a series of Spanish courses tailored to customer service conversations and the important aspects of vocabulary, tone and cultural.
After establishing a foundation in etiquette, alphabet, accentuation rules, and numbers, the language instructor taught us common phrases used in greetings, salutations and making payments. Once a comfort level was reached, we learned sentences to tell students common responses such as; “You are not registered” or “your classes were dropped for non-payment.” Popular phrases, Buenos dias. ¿Necesita hacer un pago? (“Good morning. How would you like to pay?”) are followed by asking for the details of either a credit card or a personal check. This is where we learned to formulate the how, which and what’s of Spanish. Our instructor put an emphasis on the many differences in the words that sound the same, but have different meanings. Other expressions equipped us with the verbiage to give directions to the Multicultural Center or any other location on campus.
Having a staff that is working towards bridging the bilingual gap is particularly beneficial in education. As we practice using our new found second language, we in the Business Office are excited about this additional skill and effective communication. Our attention is on the dialogues related to the specific tasks of our daily interactions, so our responses are accurate and respectful. Now that the Business office has a foundation in a second language, we will continue to practice and perfect the phrases we need to help our Spanish-speaking students feel welcome.