School board candidate forum will feature translation for Spanish and Arabic speakers

School board candidate forum with Spanish and Arabic translators

Iowa City Public Library (Meeting Room A) — Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 5:30 p.m.

Photo by Jordan Sellergren

Language barriers will be coming down for a community forum with candidates for the Iowa City Community School Board. The forum at the Iowa City Public Library on Wednesday will have interpreters translating the proceedings for Spanish and Arabic speakers.

“We want to give the opportunity for everyone to feel included,” Manny Galvez explained. “Sometimes the immigrant community feels like they aren’t welcome because of the language issue.”

Galvez, the publisher and editor of El Trueque Latino Magazine, is one of the organizers of the forum. Last year, he staged a similar forum in West Liberty for city council candidates that featured Spanish language translation.

“We had good results by being able to invite both the Anglo community and the Latino community,” Galvez said.

Galvez considers events like these forums to be an important way to get both newcomers and longtime residents more actively engaged with their community.

“In Iowa, it’s an issue that people don’t participate in local elections,” Galvez said. “I was just checking some data, and when it’s a local election, sometimes there are participation rates of less than 10 percent.”

“I think we can send a message about how important it is to participate in the process. And the school district is the first thing every family is going to be effected by, in a good way or a bad way, whether it’s your own child or another relative who is attending school. So, we believe this is a good way to engage with minorities.”

The forum will be livestreamed on El Trueque’s website. The site will also have information on how people who aren’t able to attend can submit questions via social media.

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