Immigrant Outreach and Language Access During First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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This article applies cultural translation (Kramsch and Hua 2020) and geohistorical frameworks (Braudel 1949; Scott 2018) to analyze the interplay between linguistic, cultural, physical, and ideological proximities and distances in immigrant advocacy and outreach efforts. Data are taken from ‘small stories’ (Georgakopoulou 2010, 2015) shared by directors of immigrant-serving organizations in a small metropolitan area in the USA during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories demonstrate directors’ situated perspectives on new and changing demands for communicating information in the face of persistent challenges associated with the digital divide, reaching clients with limited literacy and who speak indigenous languages of Central America and Africa, and cultivating trust among staff and between staff and clients around COVID-19 mitigation and relief. Findings trace how local, state, and national policies were taken up by individual participants and the communities they serve and bring to light the value of applied linguistics research in amplifying the complexities of language access in times of crisis as well as community resilience that are often hiding in plain sight.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied Linguistics
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jul 12 2023


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