When Winthrop University senior Julia Poppell took the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, she realized just how important it was to connect with the local people on a one-to-one basis.
The best way to do that, she says, is to speak their language.
“I love being able to connect with people on a new level,” said Poppell, who studies nutrition and Spanish. “When you’re working with people, they’re more likely to listen to you when you speak their language, rather than trying to get them to conform to you.”
Poppell is one of several Winthrop students and faculty who will be providing translation help for international racers at this weekend’s 2017 USA BMX National Series event at the Supercross Track in Riverwalk.
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The competition, beginning Friday and ending Sunday, is expected to draw thousands of riders from across the country and globe. Alise Post, Brooke Crain, Connor Fields, Corben Sharrah and Nic Long – all members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic BMX team – will compete in Rock Hill.
The Winthrop volunteers will be on hand to provide assistance for those who have trouble speaking English, as well as help officials communicate with the racers.
Poppell, who will serve as a bilingual tutor for Americorps in Texas after she graduates this spring, says the experience should be beneficial for everyone.
“Sometimes we don’t realize the practicality of language,” she said. “It can be a survival skill.”
Winthrop students and local high school volunteers will likely team up to interpret for this summer’s 2017 UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill from July 25-30.
Billed as the largest international sporting event in South Carolina history, the event is likely to attract about 20,000 fans, as well as 3,300 riders representing more than 40 countries.
“It’s a great opportunity to get exposure with the language and the people,” said Scott Shinabarger, chairman of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Winthrop.
Race times and tickets
▪ Races will begin 2:30 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, and 8 a.m. Sunday.
▪ Gates and concession stands will open earlier for practice.
▪ The three-day event is open to the public, no tickets required to enter and parking is available for $10 per day, or $25 for a weekend pass.