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St. Norbert College offers oral interpretation and written translation services, covering more than 50 languages.

Putting the World in Touch: Translation Services at St. Norbert College

A lot of health insurance companies love St. Norbert. That’s because when one of their customers gets injured while traveling abroad — let’s say in Jerusalem — the company will receive a bill in Hebrew that it can't decipher. But these companies know that SNC’s Translation Services will provide them with someone who can.

For more than a decade, SNC has been offering affordable oral interpretation and written translation services to businesses and individuals. The program initially covered about 20 languages, but today covers more than 50, including Arabic, Macedonian, Romanian and Turkish, plus American Sign Language.

More than 100 local companies have used these services over the years, including Bemis Manufacturing Company, Georgia-Pacific, Green Bay Public Schools and Schreiber Foods Inc. Yet Kristina Reignier, director of Community Outreach & Language Services, says the majority of area businesses probably don’t realize they exist. “I think we’re a hidden gem,” she says. “We only do a little bit of advertising, so most of our business is positive word-of-mouth.”

Not surprisingly, Reignier says Spanish is the most frequently requested language for translation, with Chinese another major request. French Canadian is also very popular. “We have a lot of companies in this area looking to build or partner with companies in cities like Montreal and Quebec,” Reignier says. “I have also seen a real upsurge in companies asking for American Sign Language. We used to get one request a year, and now it’s at least one or two a month.”

It’s atypical for colleges or universities to offer translation and interpretation services. SNC decided to do so as part of a broader initiative to assist local companies in advancing their international business dealings. And while there are other local companies that offer similar services, Reignier says those companies tend to focus on health-care translation needs — for example, assisting someone who lands in a hospital emergency room and only speaks Somali. “But we do everything from translating birth certificates for people getting married in the Caribbean or Mexico to working with major corporations,” she says.

The college subcontracts with the vast majority of its translators and interpreters, and its roster includes court-certified interpreters, which are required for courtroom events. A seven- to 10-day turnaround is required for most jobs, as many of the translators and interpreters have full-time jobs and provide these services on the side.

In addition to translation and interpretation services, the college provides English language training for business professionals through its Center for Global Engagement.

Jan. 30, 2018