The piece is a run-down on why to be open to an increasingly broad range of personal pronouns, plus an interesting peek at the history of alternate pronouns dating back to at least 1375. You’ll also find information on pronoun usage in other languages, and suggestions on how to support those adopting non-traditional pronouns.
The flare up is a dialect issue between speakers of Green Hmong and White Hmong, who disagree over whether the correct spelling of what is recognized in English as “Hmong,” should on the stone inscription be “Hmoob” in White Hmong, or “Moob” in Green Hmong.
St. Paul City Councilman Dai Thao stepped into the fight by asking on Facebook why the Green dialect version appeared on the stone. For his trouble he was met with protestors outside city hall who demanded his resignation. Thao said that he had been physically threatened for expressing his opinion, and asked for an FBI investigation.
As if all this weren’t enough, the story is entwined with a Chinese sister city, the cartoonist Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown, Lucy, a Chinese American friendship society, plus Hmong ex-military men seeking a return to a Hmong republic to be established somewhere in South East Asia. Needless to say, the piece is well worth a read for anyone who has ever had a document translated into Hmong.
Reservation vax booth, photo courtesy White Earth Nation.
Here’s an encouraging example of how to work alongside a Native community with public health messaging and support to dramatically boost the ranks of the vaccinated. In a recent CDC blog post, Stories from the Field: The White Earth Nation, the authors explain how officials of the northern Minnesota tribe made a strong effort via a variety of trusted media sources and public events to describe the link between traditional Anishinaabe cultural values and the threat to the community posed by COVID-19.
Among the results:
White Earth led Minnesota in vaccination rates for many weeks early in the COVID-19 vaccination push;
More than 16,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered (as of September 2021); and
More than 93 percent of White Earth Nation’s elders were vaccinated.
As with so much else, when it comes to the impact of climate change, communities of color and the poor will be disproportionately affected by less access to clean air, safe drinking water and shelter, and nutritious food. Find out more at this virtual forum, Advancing Health Equity – Public Health Solutions for Climate Change, scheduled for Friday, April 8, 9-10:30 am.
Sponsored by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, speakers include:
Here’s a nicely made video from Red Lake Hospital Indian Health Service that stresses specific Ojibwe cultural values as reasons to get vaccinated against COVID. Among a cast of elders, Dan King, President of Red Lake Nation College and Hereditary Chief, has this to say: “This is where we need to show humility, where we trust the leading edge science and technology that was used to develop these vaccines. We need to be humble and respectful…”
Other speakers hit on the community value to staying strong and healthy and to setting an example for children and grandchildren. The video, produced with the support from the CDC, is well worth a spin on waiting room TV monitors.
Here’s another tool you can use to urge parents to get their kids vaccinated. Five 5-11-year old Minnesotans who have finished the COVID vaccination series are eligible to enter a drawing for a $100,000 scholarship package at any public or private non-profit education institution in Minnesota. The deadline to enter is April 11. More information, plus a link to the entry form, is available here: Kids Deserve a Shot $100,000 Minnesota College Scholarship Drawings. Winners will be chosen on the afternoon of April 15.
Spread the word by using the translated materials below to promote this program on social media:
The rapidly unfolding refugee crisis in Ukraine provoked a heartbreaking and fascinating story in the New York Times recently on the practicalities of flight. If you are forced to leave your home with little chance to plan or to take more than you can stuff in your pockets, what do you bring along? Reporter Alissa J. Rubin got an answer from a number of Ukraine refugees in her piece, The One Item They Had to Take When These 6 Afghans Fled.
Among the answers: a sapphire and silver ring given by a male friend to a young woman who hopes he will still care for her when they are reunited. “Everything changes” during a separation, she tells the Times. “But I have not taken it off my finger since it was given to me.”
Need a translated overview of COVID at-home rapid tests for limited English speakers? Here’s a one-page Minnesota Department of Health info sheet in English and multiple other languages available for download.
When are medical interpreters simply conduits for information shared between providers and patients — and when do they have an obligation to intervene and advocate on the behalf of patients?
The U.S. National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare (NCIHC) came out last year with a detailed report for interpreters on when and when not to step into the role of advocate.
In some scenarios, the answers are obvious. It’s time to speak up if a surgeon is about to operate on the wrong body part. But what about the advice that a patient follow a diet plan that utterly ignores cultural approaches to diet, cooking and hospitality? The Council’s guidance provides a structure for approaching these dilemmas.
Griffith reports on the battles to keep minority languages from going extinct in Wales, Hawaii, southern China, Hong Kong and indigenous America.
You’ll get insight here on how technology both hurts and helps in the fight against minority language extinction. Griffiths explains how languages hang on, the costs when they don’t, and how indigenous tongues can be walked back from the ledge of permanent loss.
The book is garnering reviews in, among other publications, the New Yorker and the LA Review of Books, which called Speak Not “a stimulating work on the politics of language.”
Get an inside view on survival in a war-torn country, as Dr. Okechukwu (Okey) Ukaga, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Minnesota Extension, appears at the Global Book Club’s virtual meeting to discuss “It Is Well.”
Ukaga grew up in the period of civil war that accompanied Biafra’s brief secession from Eastern Nigeria, during which almost two million Biafran civilians — three-quarters of them children — died from starvation caused by roadblocks enforced by the Nigerian government, (Find a brief rundown on this catastrophe via Wikipedia.)
N95 respirators are the gold standard for keeping COVID-19 at bay. But as with so many things, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use them. Here’s expert guidance from the CDC, in English, and translated into Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese, on how to use an N95 mask correctly. Also included: a reminder that patients with heart and lung problems should consult with a doctor before using an N95, because they can make it harder to breathe.
Here’s a story from the New York Times that’s equal parts romance and practicality. In A Love Language Spoken with Hands, a gay deaf man recounts his relationships with would-be paramours who promise that for him, they will learn sign language to communicate more fully. In his experience, these Romeos are always making a hollow promise — until he finds the man who is actually willing and able to put in the work.
It’s a touching story of love gone right. But it’s also a practical message regarding the power of making an honest effort to communicate with others in their own language.
The book, MyLittle Legs, is a addition to what is otherwise a scant collection of books in Karen. The story notes that there are only 32 Karen-language books available in US libraries. Three of them are published by the St. Paul Public Library.
If you’ve spent time studying Old Testament iconography (and who hasn’t?), you may have wondered why Moses is often depicted with horns after having talked with God on Mount Sinai and descended with the ten commandments.
Why the horns? It’s the result of a faulty translation of tricky language from Hebrew to Latin. The more apt description of Moses’s countenance upon his return from the mountaintop is probably “glorified.” However, the translator, St. Jerome, wandered into usage of the term “horned.” Hence Michelangelo’s version of Moses, right, is which the prophet appears somewhat goat-ish.
Today in a modern healthcare environment, you can take this as yet one more example of how translation and interpretation can get seriously off the tracks. For a more thorough airing of this and other, similar blunders, see 9 Little Translation Mistakes that Caused Big Problems.
Does your organization send Community Health Workers into the field? If so, here’s a pair of webinars that will give them the tools to help combat the plethora of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.
Set for noon, Thursday, January 13 and 1 PM, Thursday, January 27, the free two-part webinar, offered in Spanish and English, will tackle these issues:
Part One, January 13: A review of core information that CHWs need to know about COVID-19, variants and vaccines. This session also will help CHWs identify trusted sources of information and resources to address misinformation and disinformation. (Register here.)
Part 2, January 27: The focus will be on vaccine resources for refugee, immigrant and migrant communities and will show ways to create communications campaigns and tailor materials that respond to the needs of the community served. (Register here.)
Local Ethiopian immigrant Zinet Kemal found she had some extra time on her hands. Since moving to Minnesota nine years ago, she had earned degrees from St. Paul College and Metropolitan State University, taken a job as an IT auditor for Hennepin County, and started an online graduate program in cybersecurity at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In between she was managing her four children, and adapting to life in frozen Minnesota. Nonetheless, when her kids came back from school and told her some of their fellow students speculated that they wore hijabs because they were bald or their hair was dirty, Kemal decided it was time to write a book that straightened things out.
Her illustrated book, Proud in Her Hijab, was published in August 2021, and is now available from Amazon and other vendors. You can read more about Kemal’s journey and her life here in this story — recently published in the excellent local online news resource, Sahan Journal.
Here’s a Tip of the Week a step outside the usual — the short story, Lu, Reshaping, by Madeleine Thien, which recently appeared in the New Yorker magazine. In the broadest terms, it’s a story about a Chinese immigrant’s struggle to make emotional sense of a life in the United States.
In some respects it’s a familiar saga. The female protagonist must rely on her pre-teen daughter to clean up the English in her writing for work. With her work-mates she is the Other, stuck just outside their easy companionship. People with less experience climb up the ladder while she remains stuck. At home she’s alienated from her husband, who is more a pragmatic associate than lover. Hence a series of secret affairs.
For Exchange readers there’s a particular bonus — the story contains a fascinating trove of Chinese idioms that render emotional states into unexpected language. Read the piece to discover the context and meaning of sayings such as, Did a ghost hit the back of your head?; Stop kicking tangerines around; and, I have eaten more salt than you have eaten rice.
Reporter Cameron Walker runs through a list of surprising observations related to multilingual patients. For instance:
swearing at pain in your nondominant language can be more effective at providing relief than letting fly in your native tongue,
other languages have words for pain with no direct English translation, leaving patients at a loss to describe the type of pain they feel.
The piece is part of a series from the Times on chronic pain, and includes stories on how to build a care team to deal with pain, how psychological counseling can help, and the benefits of exercise. Scroll down to the bottom of the language story to see the complete line-up.
Need a colorful reminder to mask up for visitors to your facility? Here are simple, printable posters in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hmong, Karen, Lao, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Health.
Get an inside look at the newly opened Hmong Cultural Center Museum at Western and University Ave.in St. Paul during it’s online launch from 5-6 pm, Thursday, December 2. You can attend the virtual event by signing in here. Get updates via the organization’s Facebook Event page.
The museum boasts a fascinating collection of artifacts from the Hmong diaspora, plus a collection of videos that explain a variety of Hmong cultural practices.
Hmong Cultural Center staff, board and community members will share what this cultural and educational institution will mean to the local Hmong community and the broader St. Paul and Twin Cities cultural landscape.
Here’s an another resource offered by the YMCA of the North for new immigrants seeking help with referrals to social services, employment, medical assistance and more. The YMCA’s New American Welcome Centers and Refugee Hubs support immigrants through integration services, community partnerships and strategies to build cross-cultural understanding.
The Y’s Welcome Centers and Refugee Hubs are located at St. Paul Eastside, Blaisdell, Burnsville, River Valley, Emma B. Howe in Coon Rapids, Ridgedale, and University YMCAs.
Among the services provided are:
Family well-being inventories
Referral to Immigration, employment and cash assistance
Community orientation workshops
Public Assistance navigation and direct assistance with applications
You’ll find pieces on testing, vaccination, masking and more in the languages most frequently spoken in Minnesota, including Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Dakota, French, Hindi, Hmong, Karen, Ojibwe, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tibetan and Vietnamese.
(Sahan Journal describes itself as a “nonprofit digital newsroom fully dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and with immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota.” For anyone interested the insider’s perspective on immigrant issues, it’s worth a bookmark on your browser.)
Nishat, whose work brought him into regular contact with US forces in Afghanistan, escaped with his wife and eight children, but only after a harrowing trip across Kabul to the desperate scene at the international airport. After three days at the airport, he and his family got jammed in a plane to Qatar. From there it was on to Germany, Virginia, New York, and, finally, Minnesota. Now the family awaits stable housing in a hotel that remains unnamed for security reasons.
Fifty-five thousand Afghans are currently in the early stages of resettlement. About 100 of them have already arrived in Minnesota. Sahan Journal reports that Minnesota has promised to resettle more than 500 Afghans shortly, while resettlement agencies push for an additional 400 people.
Here’s a package of infographics from the Minnesota Department of Health that may help convince reluctant limited English speakers to get vaxed up against COVID-19. The pieces explain that the vaccination is safe, can keep the vaccinated from getting seriously ill, frees up hospital beds and helps to protect children and others.
Struggling to explain monoclonal antibody therapy as a COVID treatment to patients who speak primarily Hmong, Somali or Spanish? Take a look at these easy-to-read info sheets from the Minnesota Department of Health.
With a new wave of Afghani refugees right around the corner, here’s an opportunity to learn more about best practices when interacting with recent arrivals.
The free webinar, “Best Practices in Newcomer and Immigrant Health: A Virtual Short Course for Clinicians and Interpreters,” will be offered from 1-4 pm, September 21 and 28. Organized by the Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health, the webinar is aimed at physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and professional medical interpreters.
For a different idea on how to approach public health messaging, check out this video on violence against women, sung by the Mexican singer Silvana Estrada for the organization La Red Nacional de Refugios. Find the translated version of the song lyrics here. There’s hardly a dry eye in the courtyard by the time Estrada is finished with the song, If They Kill Me. In a world with more than its share of posters, flyers and brochures, this is a strikingly emotional solution to the problem of effective communication.
Need an extra jolt to convince people of color to get vaccinated? Here’s a video featuring public health officials and physicians of color explaining that COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and that getting vaccinated is socially responsible. The video is produced by the Big Cities Health Coalition, which is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments, serving 62 million people.
As US involvement in the 20-year war in Afghanistan winds down, here’s an inevitable question: What becomes of the thousands of Afghans who helped US troops and now face retribution as the Taliban takes over?
This month the US House of Representatives voted to boost the number of special visas for Afghans from 11,000 to 19,000. The measure limits the evidence that refugees will need to prove that they are at risk. It remains under consideration in the Senate.
In the will-history-repeat-itself category, the upcoming Afghan diaspora raises the question whether the latest consequence of war will have the same transformative effect locally as the flight of Vietnamese and Hmong from their conflict-torn homelands.
With the pull-out of US troops from the 20-year ware in Afghanistan comes a new international refugee crisis, as aid groups declare that they’re prepping for the displacement of tens of thousands as the Taliban takes over swaths of the beleaguered country.
The millions of Afghans who have previously fled violence have landed in Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, where they are often impoverished, subject to work limits and pressured to leave.
Translated mental health resources include material dealing with pregnancy and new parents, family violence, mental health of children, and general mental health topics, such as understanding mental health conditions, stress and stress management, and medications.
Beyond Blue is sponsored by the Australian states, to reduce the prevalence and impact of depression, anxiety and related disorders.
You’ll find some surprising information within. For example:
Nine percent of state residents are immigrants;
This nine percent comprised 11 percent of the state workforce, with a concentration in the health care and manufacturing sectors;
In the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area in 2018, 11 percent of business owners were immigrants.
Immigrant-led households in the state paid $2.9 billion in federal taxes and $1.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2018.
The American Immigration Council says that it works “toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring.” Sign up for the organization’s email list here. The Council’s website and blog offer perspectives on how the US immigration system works, the ins-and-outs of the Dream Act, the complexities of the Central American refugee crisis and more.
Are safety concerns preventing your clients and patients from getting the COVID vaccination? Here’s an infographic translated into 15 languages that points out that the COVID vax is the result of years of research, and was subjected to extensive clinical trials before approval.
The piece is the result of a collaboration among the University at Buffalo (NY) Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the International Institute of Buffalo and the Erie County Department of Health.
The goal, says CTSI Director Timothy F. Murphy, MD, is to ensure that clear, accurate vaccine information is available to everyone.
“An important underlying reason for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is lack of access to reliable information about the vaccines,” Murphy explains. “Reaching community members who speak languages other than English with clear, understandable and reliable information will be enormously valuable in addressing vaccine hesitancy.”
Looking to stay abreast of where the next groups of refugees and asylees are likely to come from? One top source for news of tough times in other countries is the International Rescue Committee website.
By its description, IRC “responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.”
Recent articles on its website covered Syrian refugee mothers’ labors to take care of their kids, an analysis of what world leaders can do to end famine, and a piece on the dislocation caused by volcanic eruption in Goma.
The site provides a stylish, tightly written jolt of information, and is well worth a look.
Governor Tim Walz is urging Minnesotans to get a Pfizer vaccination for their 12- to 15-year olds. But if your patients and clients say, Yeah, but where do I get it? what’s your answer?
An easy way to find out where to find the Pfizer vax is to plug into the Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator Map to find a nearby provider. Enter a zip code and you’re on your way.
Another prospect: link to VaccineConnector.mn.gov to sign up for an appointment at one of the state Community Vaccination Program locations. Walk-ins for Minnesotans 12+ will be accepted at Bloomington (Mall of America), Saint Paul (Roy Wilkins Auditorium), Lino Lakes and Oakdale. Walk-ins and appointments for Minnesotans 18+ are accepted at all sites.
Looking for insight on current efforts to reduce health disparities Minnesota? Here’s a series of video interviews with local experts and activists conducted by Minnesota’s US Senator Tina Smith. Subjects include:
In a Q & A with Dr. Charity Reynolds, Medical Director of the Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Reynolds explains her efforts to build trust between public health workers and the tribal community. The success of that work made Fond Du Lac one of the first places in the state to get all of its elders vaccinated. Watch the video here.
Amira Adawe, founder of the Beautywell Project, details how her organization spreads awareness of the dangers of skin-lightening products. She also describes the campaign to enact policies to regulate them. The video is here.
University of Minnesota researcher J’Mag Karbeah examines inequities in the maternal and child health systems that result from structural racism. She discusses her drive to end health disparities between Minnesota’s communities of color and white populations. See the video.
In addition to Stay Safe Minnesota logos, social media content and newspaper ads, you’ll find health education materials translated into Amharic, Dakota, Hmong, Karen, Ojibwe, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Tibetan. Among the topics covered include vaccination timelines, information for seniors, guidance updates, testing sites, quarantine rules and much more.
The non-profit Ad Council brings together creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address social causes, and was the driving force behind ad campaigns including Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk, Smokey Bear, and Love Has No Labels.
The toolkit includes:
Messaging Recommendations. Strategic guidelines, messaging elements that resonate (and don’t), language considerations, and trusted messengers.
Messaging That Resonates. Strategies to build confidence and trust, remind people why the COVID vaccine is important, and help them see it as a critical step in protecting themselves and their families. This also provides specific recommendations for communicating with Black and Latino audiences.
Core Insights. Insights from research by the Ad Council and others about the key concerns behind low vaccine confidence — safety, side effects, lack of information, and the speed of the clinical trials. This includes specific research on Black Americans and Latinos, as well as trusted messengers.
For Black patients who need convincing that it’s a good, safe move to get a COVID-19 vaccination, here’s a video from the Black Physicians Network of Columbus, Ohio that makes the case. Dozens of Ohio Black physicians in this short video address the reasons why Black patients might be skeptical, and explain why they ultimately decided to get vaccinated themselves. Well made, and definitely worth a watch.
Not all translation depends on words, as is made clear by a New York Times obit for graphic designer and artist Rajie Cook.
In 1974, Cook’s design firm was hired by the US Department of Transportation as it prepared for what was assumed would be an influx of foreign visitors around the time of the 1976 bicentennial. Cook’s charge was to create symbols that could efficiently convey to people who didn’t speak English key information — for instance, where are the bathrooms, which gender do they serve, where’s the elevator, or the train or bus stop.
The firm came up with 34 pictographs, still in use today. Cook’s analysis of that work contains a lesson that remains relevant to anyone trying to communicate across cultural spans: “We held firm to the principle that design communicates to its maximum efficiency without frills, contrivances and other extraneous material.”