Student Spotlight, August 2011
For eleven days this past July, ninety-one different countries gathered together at Sac State for the World Masters Athletic Championships. With such a diverse group of individuals communication was no easy task, but with the help of volunteers like Lesly Argueta anything was possible.
During the event, Lesly worked as an athlete packet pick-up clerk and as an impromptu translator. According to Sac State Serves volunteer coordinator Misty Garcia, “Lesly was often the first to welcome athletes and introduce them not only to the event, but to Sacramento State. Her ability to speak Spanish put her in the unique (and on-the-spot) capacity of translating for multi-national guests. I personally found her to be a resource throughout the day – feeling handicapped by my own inability to verbally assist Spanish speakers, I knew I could depend on Lesly as she warmly greeted each guest with a welcoming ‘Hola!’ and readiness to assist.”
Being a first time translator at an international event can be a challenge. Lesly stated, “I can understand Spanish, but if they are talking too fast or mumbling it can be hard to catch.” Despite the obstacle, Lesly was able to assist guests from Mexico, Panama, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil. With so many languages spoken at the event, Lesly and her fellow volunteers would sometimes have to find creative ways to communicate. Facing language barriers, Lesly found herself communicating through drawings and “charades” as volunteers and event guests traded stick figure depictions or acted out activities like hurdling to identify needs and get information.
This event was not only Lesly’s first time translating but also her first time volunteering. Volunteering was always something she had wanted to do but never had; Lesly was attracted to the flexibility of dates and activities Sac State Serves offered and decided to get involved. After participating in this event, along with its challenges and rewards of helping so many people from different countries, Lesly concluded that she’s “not scared of (volunteering) anymore.” She has realized that she doesn’t have to know how to do everything to be successful and have fun as a volunteer. To others who are skeptical about volunteering she says, “Go ahead and do it. Go try and see if it is something you like. If not, at least you tried.”
Volunteer coordinator Misty Garcia shares Lesly’s sentiment that it is attitude, not previous experience that can make a successful volunteer. “Lesly would make any leader proud to have her on their team. I think she was able to really make the most of her first experience simply through her enthusiasm and willingness to help.”
Lesly is a Biochem major with the goal of attending medical school after graduation. Eventually she would like to become a Pediatrician, as she finds she has a knack for working with kids. Lesly plans to graduate in spring 2014.
Contributed by A. Hamilton
Each year, more than two thousand Sacramento State students, faculty, staff, and alumni participate in programs and projects sponsored by Community Engagement Center. Programs such as Alternative Break, AmeriCorps Students in Service, Sac State Serves, and Service Learning fulfill our mission to facilitate learning and engagement by linking campus and community for mutual benefit. Through Spotlight, Community Engagement Center will highlight outstanding individuals and programs advancing community engagement in the Sacramento region.
last updated: 10/14/2011