- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The World Dairy Expo offers interpreters to help hundreds of international visitors feel at home in Madison.

Ron Eustice, an interpreter who speaks six languages, told the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1pqcdIu ) that his fellow volunteers try to make the expo’s foreign attendees feel more comfortable by using a language they understand with a dose of Wisconsin hospitality. The interpreters greet the international guests in their native languages as they arrive in the lobby of the expo.

“We want them to know they have a home here, they have a place they can come to for help,” Eustice said.

The expo interpreters also help guests through the registration process, make themselves available for questions, hand them a bag of souvenirs and ask if they would like to sing their county’s national anthem.

“We have them sing just for fun, to get them smiling,” said Carl Rainey, a volunteer who works in the expo’s international registration center. “We have lots of fun with the Canadians who sing their national anthem in English. When they’re done, we tell them they have to sing it again in French.”

The expo opened Tuesday with 639 foreign attendees registered by mid-afternoon. Interpreters who speak Spanish, Russian and Portuguese were most in demand, according to the expo’s lead interpreter Pierre Schmidt.

Visitors from China and Japan often bring their own interpreters, so expo volunteers who speak the nations’ languages won’t be needed as much, said Andrey Kutuzov, an interpreter who speaks Russian. Many attendees representing foreign businesses also don’t require interpreters, he said.

“We don’t have interpreters who speak the language of every country represented here, but most visitors understand a language that at least one of our interpreters speak,” Kutuzov said.

Most of the interpreters are from Madison and take a week off from their regular jobs to work at the expo, said Schmidt, who owns a landscape business. One Russian-speaking interpreter is a scientist in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while the volunteer supervisor works at the Dane County District Attorney’s office.

Schmidt said the volunteers know they’re doing a good job when guests come back to see them every year or drop by for recommendations.

“We act as ambassadors, not just for World Dairy Expo, but for Madison,” he said.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj

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