Team : Work

Staff Interviews

Interview with Ari About the Importance of Bilingual Communications

January 8, 2022
Ari joined the ESD 112 Communications team as its first-ever Bilingual Communications Manager. We sat down to chat with Ari about what her role is for districts and how she is working to equalize opportunities for all students.

How are you able to help school districts with bilingual communications?

My intermediate level of Spanish, growing up in a mixed Latino household, and studying abroad/living in a Spanish-speaking country, enables me to achieve bilingual goals for many districts. I do not claim to be an expert on “being Latino”, migrant families, or Mexican culture, (as I am Puerto Rican and Dominican) but I can shed light from the perspective of a similar cultural background and familial structure. I, like many, can understand the struggle of feeling unseen and that is why I specifically felt driven to the role that could make a difference in representation and therefore the educational future of many non-English speaking families/ ESL kiddos.

The districts I work with as a Bilingual Communications Manager have a large or even majority population of Spanish-speaking families and thus a disconnect with the district’s traditional English communications efforts. It is important to have these families and students represented and accounted for in the work a district and schools are doing for the kids. The better a message is understood, the easier an action is to accomplish…together!

What is the difference between a bilingual communications manager and a translator?

A translator simply takes a text from one language and changes it to another. A bilingual communications manager, outside of changing materials to another language, provides communications to meet a community where they are, instead of making them adapt to English or hit an oftentimes inaccurate translate button.

My role is about providing content in the language, style, and method that a community can more easily digest and interact with it. As a Bilingual Communications Manager, my job is to work on the communications of a school district through the lenses of a population that speaks Spanish.

What is a goal you have as a bilingual communications manager?

The overall goal is positive outreach to a majority of families in a district. This means reaching families that would have otherwise been “left out of the loop” or feeling disengaged because a communications method doesn’t represent their culture. The neat thing about the role is that if done well, it could lead to educational success for many families and students in ways that may not have been possible before.

What are some of the projects that you’ve been working on lately? 

I’m very proud to have been a part of Yakima School District offering a fully authentic Spanish website for its community. This means not having to hit “translate” as a Spanish speaker or seeing often unnatural translations generated by AI, and that alone has a lot of significance behind it. For a community that often feels underrepresented, they are now accounted for and truly acknowledged in a big way. I am also working on stronger engagement in platforms like social media, so that families are actually interacting with a district because they feel like what they say is heard, understood, and valued. There’s a lot more to come, but this project has felt very special so far and shows a great effort from YSD to better know and meet their whole community.

What are the most fulfilling and most challenging parts of your work at ESD 112? 

Most fulfilling is definitely knowing and seeing how my work directly impacts the future for many kids and adults. The work ESD 112 does is truly meaningful.  

Challenging pieces would still just be the newness of education for me and the rules/laws associated in that realm. 

What is your favorite communications trend right now? Least favorite? 

My favorite industry trend right now is the mobile friendly interaction available on many platforms that can make access so easy. My least favorite trend is the AI approach that guesses what you want or tries to complete everything automatically for you. 

How do you think the pandemic will impact the future of communications?  

I think it could possibly and surprisingly give people less of a craving for technology. Although there is so much more we can do with technology now, I think in the future people will actually crave and enjoy it less. Too much of anything can be bad! 

These past few years have been pretty stressful. What are your favorite ways to unplug and decompress? 

My favorite ways to decompress are with boxing, being outside in nature for walks, talking to some of my oldest/silliest friends, my Theragun massager and foam roller and having dance parties at home. 

What inspires you? 

People, nature, music, sports, and travel all inspire me. 

What’s your favorite color? Has it always been that? 

I love gray or that sort of rust color. I usually just say green or blue when asked though because I don’t want to explain why I like those other colors and they are also pretty to me! 

Ari snowshoeing near Mt. Hood

Ari hiking with her partner in Zion National Park

What have you done on your bucket list? What’s still left to do? 

I have lived in a foreign country; I have been skydiving; I have been on stage with the artist at a concert; I have cooked food my grandma used to make me; I have saved to be debt free….very grateful to cross these off my bucket list! I still want to visit many other countries/ continents, buy a house, set my parents up for retirement, own an Audi, play an instrument… 

If you could interview any person, living or non-living, who would it be, and what would you want to ask them? 

I would love to meet any family members of mine who have passed and ask about their stories. 

About the TEAM Member

Ari Vazquez Bilingual Communications Manager

Ari Vazquez Bilingual Communications Manager

I've always loved all things dealing with writing and people. I studied Communications with a focus in PR from 2009-2013. I was pretty much always on a path for my current career, but I took some very random turns and have experience in vastly different industries including office supplies, power tools and mental health. All experiences can be a learning experience, though, and I grew from each position and now have a unique set of knowledge in things I never thought I would.