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Being raised in a Spanish speaking home always made me feel special for being able to speak two languages.  However, Spanish is my second language and therefore, I am not as fluent as I would like to be.  I often make minor errors when speaking Spanish, but these errors can cost someone’s life as I learned in the event with Lisa Morris, Director of Cross Cultural Initiatives at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

I think the most important advice from this lecture was that one should get a translator for any language one is not fluent in and try to learn another language.  Lisa Morris gave an example of why knowing another language is important: “intoxicado” is a word that often means intoxicated/inebriated.  When a patient went with his family to a hospital and said he was “intoxicado”, the staff treated him for excessive drinking.  However, “intoxicado” could also mean poisoned, which is what this patient was.

Although the focus of this event was interpreting, I learned a few Spanish terms that could help in hospital and community health settings.  I also learned the proper way of addressing adults, how to greet, etc.  This was definitely an experience that will help my nursing career.