Monday, December 15, 2014

Bakken oil boom brings diversity to western North Dakota

Montana-North Dakota state line
North Dakota has never been known for its ethnic diversity--outside of a smattering of Native Americans, the people of the state are as white as the winter snow. But thanks to the Bakken Shale oil boom in the western part of the state, that is changing.

From the Bismarck Tribune last month:
Job seekers and immigrants have brought a surge of diversity to North Dakota, but the arrival of many new people from diverse native lands often result in a few language gaps. Its pervasiveness has caused a number of public agencies to seek help: Teachers and police officers are turning to interpreters and Internet translators. Those with aspirations of acclimating to a new culture have been described as dedicated by many — but there are waiting lists for classes in English as a second language. And in some situations, parents cannot turn to their more fluent children for understanding.

On the streets

Mandan Police Chief Dennis Bullinger and Bismarck Police Chief Dan Donlin said officers more frequently encounter people who speak limited or no English.

"There is a system out there where we can call a number. It will translate it to the person you are talking to," Bullinger said. "Last year, we had a Spanish instructor come in and do some basic (lessons) with us in the whole department," he said. "If we had someone who was a victim of a crime and they don't speak English, we'll contact a translator to help."

A detective and an officer who speak fluent Spanish at the Bismarck Police help with some of the calls, but officers often use an interpreter national/international service over the phone. "We have a visual poster. The individual can point to the language they speak," Donlin said. "The officer knows he can contact the service whether it's Arabic, Greek, whatever and start the interpretation. The officer will state what they want to ask the individual. The interpreter will state that. ... The interpreter will interpret back in English to the cop."
See--oil is good for America.

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