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August 26th, 2019

maam translation projectOne of the planes at the Mid-America Air Museum whose placard will be translated into Spanish thanks to the work of students at Prairie View Elementary School. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Many improvement projects are expected to be happening at Liberal’s Mid-America Air Museum, and one of those upcoming projects will be happening thanks to a group of students at Prairie View Elementary School. 

The project involves helping translate some of the museum’s placards to Spanish and as Prairie View teacher Veronica Nevarez tells it, the idea came at a rather odd time. 

“This is a project we’ve been working on this school year and it came about kind of by accident. My family and I were at the air museum and we noticed a lot of the placards said ‘Spanish coming soon’ and as we were going through the museum I thought ‘This would be a great opportunity for me to do some volunteer work in Liberal’ so I came up with the idea of making the Spanish translations a project.” Nevarez said. “So I talked to Mr. Immel and he was really excited about the overall project and I asked if he had anyone working on it and he told me they were actually looking for volunteers and then after I pitched my idea we decided to talk about it later on and keep in touch. One of the groups I’d been working with was an excellent group of kiddos who were really excelling, and we’d been trying some new things, so I thought what if our students did this project through the redesign process going on?”

So Nevarez talked to fellow Prairie View teacher Olivia Flores and suggested having those students work on this project with the museum. 

“She was excited to go along with me and that’s how it got started. It’s turning out to be way bigger than anticipated – a lot of background work had to happen for the students to have that knowledge of aviation and if you’ve been to the museum, many of those placards are very technical and use a lot of aviation terminology and it was something new they had to learn,” Nevarez said. “The museum staff did open up the museum exclusively for our group and they got to see everything. The students actually had a bit of a hard time believing this was a real project and this was something that was going to be displayed publicly. So after they went to the museum and saw the placards they’d be translating, that’s when it hit them this was real.”

Students involved with the project admitted they felt it was a joke when initially told about the project. 

“I actually thought they were joking around with us at first when they told us what we were going to be doing for the museum and then when we saw our planes and actually got started with everything, that’s when I knew it wasn’t a joke and we had to take it seriously,” student Christian Castañeda said. 

“It’s really cool we’ve been able to do this but like Christian said, I also thought it was a joke at the beginning and then we went to the museum and picked out our airplanes and it’s been cool helping translate everything,” fellow student Hector Aquino added. 

Flores also talked about her pride in the project and the students involved. 

“I’m actually always looking for different activities to do in the classroom with the students and I’m so glad Veronica found this,” Flores said. “This is the perfect group to do this with. There’s been a lot of work on the computer that’s had to go into this – I sent them the document to the classroom and then they have to open the Google doc and name it and then use some Google Translate to help with certain parts and then they have to do everything piece by piece and then go back and edit it and send it to everyone else so it can be proofread. Then the final version is sent to me. So it’s not just a simple project and with Spanish, you can’t just translate and then it’s done – Google Translate does help but the students have to make sure it makes sense and sounds right. They’re doing a lot of work with this project and have done amazing so far. By actually going to the museum and seeing what they’d be translating, it made this project more real for them and they have been great at doing all that research about the particular planes they have. We also started doing this because not only will this help the community, it will help the students in the future – they know this will help them at future jobs, they know this will help them with future collaborations with friends or colleagues, so they know.”

“Working with our classmates and having that teamwork and also just doing the translating itself, it’s really awesome we’re working on something for a public museum,” Castañeda said. “Especially for the Hispanic community, it should be great because a lot of them don’t speak or read English quite well yet and now we’re working on something for them so they can learn more about the airplanes in the museum and get all those interesting facts about them. I used to think Spanish class was boring but now we’re doing a lot more things like this, and it’s really great for us to have this opportunity.”

Aquino also said he is looking forward to seeing more people go to the museum. 

“I’m hoping we get a lot of Spanish-speaking people who can’t really read English will now want to go to the museum and learn more about the planes in there,” Aquino said. “I’ll want to invite my family out there because they don’t know I’m doing this yet so I want to surprise them when everything is finished, so I want to be able to tell them ‘This is the one I translated.’”

Flores again expressed her pride in the work the students have done with the project thus far, with some of the project’s progress being shown off to the USD 480 school board during the board’s most recent meeting Monday evening. 

“They’re so smart and know this is a great opportunity for them, and I’m excited to be part of it because I don’t know how many 10-year-olds can say they worked with a nationally known museum to help with translations on that type of scale, so it’s so neat to see how they’ve taken up this challenge,” Flores said. 

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