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Orem City Council is prioritizing Spanish translations for city docs and forms

Orem City Center, which is home to city hall, the public library, the courts and the city's division of public safety, March 17, 2024.
Jim Hill
Orem City Center, which is home to city hall, the public library, the courts and the city's division of public safety, March 17, 2024.

Nearly 18% of Orem residents are Hispanic or Latino. And 21% speak a language other than English at home. But until recently most of the city’s forms, communication materials and website were written in English. That’s why an effort is underway to translate them into Spanish.

City Councilmember Chris Killpack said the idea came about when he was campaigning for office last year.

“Several of the candidates that were running for the seat were involved in interfacing with the Latino community and the business owners in Orem. So we held meetings just to see what their needs were.”

They told him it was difficult to fill out the city’s applications to start a business and that it would “be nice for us to have a way to do that without having to have a translator for us as we do those forms.”

So when Killpack took office in January, he made translating the forms and other city materials into Spanish a priority.

Much of this work is being undertaken by Dareli Villegas, the city’s marketing and communications intern since 2023.

“I've been translating, I would say like my whole life. I help students. I've helped people. I helped business owners with limited English. And I'm really happy to always help them.”

As part of her internship, Villegas also works on the city’s Instagram page and often adds Spanish captions to the videos and photos the city posts there. She also helps people who come into the office and need help communicating.

“They can come in and ask a simple question and I can see the relief in their eyes when they're like, ‘Oh, she speaks Spanish.’”

Villegas, who’s a lifelong Orem resident, said the work is difficult, but she’s excited about the impact it’ll have on her community. Right now, there is no completion date for the project. But there’s already a complete translation of the business licensing webpage, and Villegas said Spanish language translations of the business licensing forms will be released in about a month.

“Even if it's just a simple flier in Spanish like, ‘Hey, these are the library programs we have,’ it just provides so much help. And I think it makes them feel really nice. It makes me feel nice to know that my community can take part.’”

Tilda is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in the Central Utah bureau based out of Provo.
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