The author is a freelance writer based in Union Bridge, Md.
Last year’s World Dairy Expo welcomed visitors from 97 countries; of the 68,710 in total attendance, 2,752 were international guests. International registration coordinator Berta Hansen was ready with her staff to welcome them to Expo.
“I’ve been helping with World Dairy Expo at the International Registration desk ‘on and off’ since, I think, 1985,” explained Hansen. “We are the welcoming face of Expo for many visitors who come to experience the show for the first time. Even repeat attendees come to us for information and guidance, too.”
Looking on, one would think guests only check in at the registration desk, but it’s way more than that with Expo staff going far beyond their initial duties. “We help on many different levels,” shared Hansen. “Serving as translators for language barriers is what we do. Of course, we aid with Expo events but go much deeper with guests, helping them with hotel accommodations, setting up farm tours, and even serving as emergency contacts.”
Hansen remembered one year that an international guest forgot a medical device at home, one that was greatly needed. “We called doctor’s offices and coordinated his temporary care for him. I think it is comforting to know that we are there to serve as a moderator in any kind of situation,” she said. “We really must be prepared for anything, even after hours.”
Hansen’s staff is made up of 10 to 12 interpreters. “Many of the staff have helped for five years or more,” she explained. “However, not everyone is familiar with cattle so it was a little fun explaining what Expo is to our staff.”
Interpreters range from college professors to students, there are even ag-industry personnel available to aid with questions related to dairy. One of the staffers is Hansen’s daughter-in-law, Karen Tinglev-Hansen, who enjoys helping the visitors.
“I don’t have an agricultural background,” shared Tingler-Hansen. “I just enjoy helping the international guests by answering questions and making them feel welcome.”
Like many of the interpreters, Tinglev-Hansen can speak multiple languages including Spanish, English, German, and Portuguese, and even has experience with teaching.
“It’s not uncommon for translators to speak multiple languages. Once you learn one language, it’s a matter of using similarities to branch over into another,” she said.
Hansen found her niche for translation by means of her family. “My mother introduced me into multiple languages. I also enjoy meeting new people so interpretation was a unique fit,” she explained. “I enjoy conversation and exploring. Oftentimes, I find myself sharing Wisconsin’s products and locations with visitors who want more added to their experience, too.”
The now Wisconsin local, originally born in Monterey, Mexico, came to America at the age of 3. “While at home, my family always spoke Spanish, so I was completely bilingual,” she shared. “It wasn’t until high school and college that I took Portuguese and more Spanish classes. I currently speak English, Spanish, and some Portuguese.”
Hansen began interpreting for World Dairy Expo many years ago, but also interprets for the Municipal Court in the Village of Shorewood Hills, Wis. “I presently work as a bilingual legal administrative assistant at the Dane County District Attorney’s Office and utilize my speaking and writing abilities to assist victims who speak Spanish,” she said.
The Expo advantage
World Dairy Expo has excelled by generating ways for local and international guests to have the same quality experience. Last year, the majority of visitors came from the countries of Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, and Japan, so to ease registration and guest interaction, Expo utilizes electronic kiosks, translated media, and international announcers along with welcome staff. There is an international lounge that can be used for conducting business and relaxation, and a reception is also a favorite for international visitors.
“We always take pride in visitors enjoying their stay during World Dairy Expo,” commented Hansen. “The show and staff has always made extra efforts to include everyone.”