Student helping Southwest Licking Schools as a translator

Posted Mar 02, 2023

Kailey Mishler ’24 

A Nepali student at Otterbein is using her skills to help others as an interpreter for Southwest Licking Schools.  

Babita Gautam, a junior nursing major, has been as a family liaison for Southwest Licking since 2019. She got the job after interpreting her younger brother’s school meeting for her parents. 

“My brother is in the IEP (Individualized Education Program) program. For him to receive the services he needs, Southwest Licking sent him to Upper Arlington. During his first meeting there, a staff member who was present for the IEP saw me interpreting for my parents and reached out to me to ask if I was interested in interpreting. My brother graduates this May,” said Gautam.  

As a family liaison, Gautam has the role of making communication easier between Nepali parents and staff.  

“Parents have access to my phone number so they can reach out to me any time, and I help convey the message to the staff. I also interpret for IEP meetings and parent-teacher conferences. I’m there for any phone, zoom, or in-person meetings,” explained Gautam. 

Translators are essential in breaking the communication barrier between cultures to spread information and knowledge. Gautam described how important the role of a translator is, especially in educational settings.  

“Access to translators is super important because, for parents with limited or no English, they can have a lot of difficulty staying connected to their child’s educational journey. They are unaware of opportunities that might help their child progress. With an interpreter available who they can reach out to at any time, it’s easier for parents to stay in communication with the teacher regarding academics or anything they need,” said Gautam.  

As for her future, Gautam explained that she hopes to continue translating because, as a nursing student, being able to speak a language other than English is an advantage. She explained that her opportunity to translate for Southwest Licking helps the parents, but it also allows her to practice her native language.