Students in international internship find ways to work past language barriers

From the Abilene Reporter News
June 17, 1999

Staff Writer,
Abilene-Reporter News

Translating policies into Spanish isn't necessarily the easiest thing to do even if you are fluent in two languages.

Carlos Leal discovered "pro-rated merit increase" and "cardiac catheterization" don't have Spanish translations.

But Leal, a Universidad Autonoma de la Laguna student, and Brittney Binder, an Abilene Christian University student, have developed a system to translate English into Spanish. 

The two are involved in an international internship program and were placed in Hendrick Medical Center's human resources department.

When Leal stumbles across a word in English he can't translate, Binder's job is to give him a substitute word with the same meaning he can translate.

"I explain in English," said Binder quickly, admitting her Spanish wasn't quite as good as Leal's English.

The two, along with ACU's Brett Roberson and UAL's Karla Pina, have a little different situation than that of the other internship participants.

Besides Leal's and Binder's occasional partnership, the four work individually.

Leal, a marketing student, is responsible for updating the hospital's Web page. He finds and researches information to put on Hendrick's Web site.

"For me, this internship is to learn a lot of things from another country and how things are run in a big organization," Leal said.

Binder is working on redesigning Hendrick's employee handbook to make it more reader-friendly.

Roberson is at Lee Medical Supply researching a way to implement a new cost system. 

Pina, a marketing student, has been busy in the community promoting the hospital at events like Children's Miracle Network.

"It is a good experience to participate in the Children's Medical Network and see how other people join to help children," Pina said. "I work in a different department every day. I go where they tell me. It helps me to learn important things about each department."

Hendrick's Terri Bloodgood and Kathy Galinak said that by splitting them up, they are able to do more in their area of study.

And because Hendrick's size, the students are able to branch out to many different departments.

For Roberson and Binder, both international business students, matching them with an exact job wasn't easy. But they are both happy to be learning a little different side to business.

"The classroom experience can't compare to the experience we are getting here," Binder said.

But because this is a first-year program, the students think there are some kinks that could be worked out to make the experience better.

Each student is working without pay, and they all would like the experience to be longer than one month in Abilene and one month in Mexico at businesses.

"It takes us two weeks to a month to train a person in one position," Bloodgood said. "It's hard (for the students) to get the whole picture in a month."

For the most part, the program is running smoothly. First National Bank, Abilene Regional Medical Center and the Small Business Development Center are playing host to the rest of the interns.

The program has not only been a learning experience for the students but also for the host companies.

"It's nice to have fresh faces," Bloodgood said. "We've been in it so long ... this gives new ideas. What people learn in school nowadays is much different than when I was in school." 

For Galinak, this program is teaching her how to deal with different personalities and cultures.

"You learn patience, and it's important everyone has a sense of humor," Galinak said. "I have lived overseas for two years. I know what Karla and Carlos are going through. You learn tolerance and patience, but that's what Abilene is all about."

Early next month, Leal and Roberson will be on their way to Mexico to intern at Hospital Los Angeles, while Binder and Pina will get their work experience at the RCA plant in Torreon, Mexico.

Roberson thinks the best part of this exchange is learning about and interacting with other cultures.

"The most important thing is the cultural exchange," he said. "It is important to learn about such a close neighbor ... Mexico."

Next Thursday, Business Journal will look at First National Bank's interns, Jason Groves and Begona Salas. Anna L. Derocher may be reached at (915) 676-6786 or


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Tom Craig, director of media and community relations, at or call 915-674-2692.

Last update: June 17, 1999
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