Ambassadors add spanish language tours of UA campus

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Sofia Moraga | The Daily Wildcat Vianey Durazo, a transfer student from Cochise College, takes a UA tour in spanish to see if the UA will be a good fit for her on Monday, Feb. 26.

University of Arizona sophomore and student ambassador Jorge Mata Ochoa gives campus tours to prospective students and their families who are interested in learning about UA — though he didn’t have the chance to take the tour himself when he entered the school, as his Sonoran parents cannot speak English well. 

In recognition of these kinds of language barriers, especially being situated so close to the border, the UA is offering campus tours in Spanish to accommodate a more diverse audience. 

The new initiative was started late January of this year by the Office of Admissions, housed in Old Main. 

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The 90-minute tours are similar to any other general campus tour for prospective students, families and guests who want to learn more about the Wildcat student life, and now native Spanish-speakers will be able to join and follow along. 

The UA Information and Visitor Services Coordinator, Dan Kellish, said that this was something the university always wanted to do, but was not set in motion until he took on the project, which took six months to complete. 

“We made sure we weren’t leaving any stone unturned in making sure that this will be a complete campus tour experience — just in another language,” Kellish said. 

Kellish helps oversee all of the campus tours and works as an Arizona Ambassador honorary advisor, organizing a group of 125 student ambassadors that give the tours. Spanish tour ambassadors like Ochoa, who out of the 125 other ambassadors, was one of five who was bilingual in Spanish, were on board with the new initiative. 

Jorge Mata Ochoa, a student ambassador for the UA, takes Vianey Durazo through a spanish speaking walking tour of the UA campus on Monday, Feb. 26. Vianey is a 22-year-old transfer student from Cochise College and is hoping to study at the Eller College of Management in the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Ariz.

One of the reasons why the project required six months to launch, despite having an existing tour to work with, was due to some parts of the translation process. 

The admissions did, however, have the help of the University of Arizona’s National Center for Interpretation. The center shared their carefully-selected and certified freelancers to translate documents, emails and general information needed to launch the initiative. The center’s translation coordinator, Holly Silvestri, was not in term to work on the project, but was still willing to represent and speak about the benefits.

“Universities are reaching out more and more to international student bodies,” Silvestri said. “We can’t ignore that 57 percent of the Tucson public school audience is of Latin descent, or Latin themselves, if we are not addressing that we will be losing out on some potential student body numbers.”

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Silvestri said that it is not evident when families take the tours that all of them speak the same language, understand fully what the tour guide says or are able to ask questions; and that due to the high cost of attending college, parents deserve to know where they are sending their children and what is offered to them.  Which is why, according to Silvestri, she thinks that it is “admirable” that the university has this opportunity to provide more options.

“This program barely started, so not many families know about it, but I’m sure when they do, more of them will sign up for it and their children will come to the university to take tours,” Ochoa said. Since tours are now offered in Spanish, people like his mother can finally come take the tour, understand what is being said, and not feel left out.

The tours are available Mondays at 12:45 p.m. this semester. The office is currently looking into creating a summer schedule for the tours, which will be available in March. To take the Spanish language tour of the campus, register on the admissions website.

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