In fall 2023, Indiana factory Specialty Tires of America began participating in an H-2B work visa program, through which it hired 20 employees directly from Mexico. Over a month, nine IUP students interpreted for the new employees during their onboarding and training process. IUP professor Marveta Ryan-Sams of the Department of Foreign Languages helped to recruit the students for the effort.

Company representative Adriane Weaver said the students “not only helped with translation services, but they helped the H-2B employees feel more comfortable in a new environment.”

Some of the students are studying Spanish at IUP, among them Antonio Bizzarro, Elizabeth Caldwell, Jordan Hartman, Courtney Webster, and Brianna Volovic. The last three named had recently studied in Mexico. Some of the students are native speakers of Spanish, like Keily Tinoco, Marisol Gonzalez, Milady Lagunas, and Magali Ortiz. Many of them noted that they participated as a way to “give back” to their community.

Ortiz said, “I know how hard it can be to come to a new country where you don’t speak the language and everything being so new to you.”

Gonzalez echoed that sentiment and added, “Giving them the support, along with other fellow IUP students, was wonderful.”

“Like the H-2B workers, I am also Mexican and an immigrant in this country,” Lagunas explained. “I am grateful to be given the opportunity where I can .…help them navigate the beginning of their journey here in the US. I see the hopes and dreams that many of them have, and it reminds me of myself and my family’s journey.”

Specialty Tires representative Weaver expressed the company’s gratitude. “The students did such an amazing job, and we could not have done this without them.”