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MATI 2020 Webinar Series - Los Marielitos: Interpreting the Voices of Cuban Refugees

  • 08/20/2020
  • 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

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MATI 2020 Webinar Series - Los Marielitos: Interpreting the Voices of Cuban Refugees | Thursday, August 20 | 7:30pm CT - 8:30pm CT

In 1980, approximately 125,000 refugees fled Fidel Castro’s oppressive regime in Cuba from the Port of Mariel to seek political asylum in the United States. Fleeing from extreme economic strife as well as political and social unrest, this wave of Cuban immigrants would later become known as ‘los Marielitos’. Of the four military bases where these men, women, and children were placed until they were sponsored by local community members, over 14,000 were placed at Fort McCoy, near Sparta, Wisconsin.


Forty years later, in October 2019, a joint initiative between the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the La Crosse Public Library provided these former refugees with a platform to tell their stories as part of a traveling photo exhibit. In the effort to make the exhibit more accessible to Spanish speakers who are Limited English Proficient, this project incorporates oral histories which required transcription, translation, and several aspects of interpreting. The first objective of this webinar is to explore where the line between translation and interpreting blurs.


Secondly, this presentation will examine the pros and cons of collaborating both as partners and within a larger web of project contributors. Furthermore, we will articulate the difficulties encountered in determining how to translate, while maintaining the linguistic style of several Mariel refugees' voices. Finally, this webinar will tackle the challenges of deciphering code-switching by examining real examples from the source material, and explore producing target materials in a specific dialect (in this case, Cuban Spanish).



Presented by: Ashley Rowin and Jade Baumgartner


Ashley Rowin is currently a Medical Interpreter at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI. She earned her B.A. in Spanish and German Studies, with a certificate in Russian Studies from the UW – La Crosse in 2017. In earning a Certificate in Community Interpreting from Viterbo University, Ashley has presented research   on language access services in local dental clinics at the Ramp Up the Conversation Interpreter and ISP Conference in April 2019. Most recently, she has enrolled in a Masters in Translation through Kent State University with an expected graduation date of May 2021. Ashley has spent time abroad in Mexico, Germany and most recently the Dominican Republic, where she volunteered as a medical interpreter in a project dedicated to increasing locals’ accessibility to ongoing health care.


Jade Baumgartner is currently a Bilingual Patient Advocate at MedData based out of Mayo Clinic in La Crosse, Wisconsin and has recently earned a Certificate in Community Interpreting from Viterbo University. As a researcher, Jade has presented on language access in public libraries in Wisconsin at the Ramp Up the Conversation Interpreter and ISP Conference in April 2019. With an expected graduation date of December 2020, Jade is also earning her B.A. in Spanish at the UW – La Crosse, with a minor in Chinese Studies. Apart from her work and studies in language, she has worked and studied abroad in countries including Spain, Chile and China.


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