BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - As the Hispanic community rapidly grows across South Mississippi, some places are making sure that Spanish language options and texts are readily accessible.
For most people, it’s easy to enjoy South Mississippi’s many attractions, but some Spanish-speakers need help breaking the language barrier.
“There’s very few places that offer art classes in both languages,” said Pamela Cevallos, the education director at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum.
The need to offer bilingual experiences sparked an interest in Cevallos and other museum staff members.
“(We are) bringing new initiatives that include the Latinx community,” said Cevallos.
On Jan. 19, a special field trip was planned for Las Mujeres Unidas, an all-women group with El Pueblo.
“It was the first time for me giving a tour all in Spanish,” Cevallos said.
After a quick look at the art inside of exhibit halls, the group moved to the Ceramics Studio to learn how to make pieces of their own at a pottery class. Although everyone was socially distant and masked up, organizers said there was nothing but smiles in the room.
“I think it’s good,” said El Pueblo Coordinator Mayra Gomez Carvajal. “I saw the expressions in their faces and I know they were happy.”
The group was excited about a change in scenery for their weekly meetings at the El Pueblo office, and organizers were happy with the group’s reaction to the activities.
“Sometimes with art, you’re really scared of creating, but with clay, you really open up,” Cevallos said. “I really saw how creative they were even though they’ve never done pottery before.”
While the field trip to the museum offered Las Mujeres Unidas something fun and memorable to do, it also opened up the group to new cultures and experiences right in their own community.
“Especially in the immigrant community, it’s important to have different activities and different places for bonding,” Cevallos said.
Organizers said events like this promote unity and teach useful lessons for the real world.
“If they learn different skills, maybe they can apply them with jobs and have better opportunities,” Carvajal said.
Overall, there’s hope that more museums, venues and attractions learn ways to engage people who speak and read in different languages.
“I know we will make a difference in the community if we work together.” Carvajal said.
Museum staff said Spanish tours are available for guests who request it.