The nonprofit helps break down language barriers

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The non-profit organization World Speaks Omaha offers community classes, interpreting and translation services. People can learn a language for free on top of paying $15 for a workbook.

To recognize all of this great work, the Greater Omaha Chamber recognized Founder and Executive Director Leah Whitney Chavez as an Agent of Change.

It all stems from Whitney Chavez’s passion for the Spanish language.

“I’m still in touch with the culture, I love and I’m intrigued by the Spanish language. It’s always been my goal to learn it. That’s how I started to get interested in learning it. other languages ​​and cultures than mine,” Chavez said.

His passion turned into a dream.

“I had this vision for a language school, but it was something I wrote down and put away,” Chavez said.

Chavez decided to take the business idea and turn it into a course.

“We have Spanish, Russian, Somali, Arabic, Karin, Burmese, the list goes on,” Chavez said.

Community classes are virtual right now due to the pandemic. The courses last 10 weeks. The US Census Bureau reports that only 20% of Americans speak a language other than English, something Chavez hopes to change.

“You can’t really learn a language well without learning the culture. So being able to understand how someone other than yourself is going to expand your mind and develop your own empathy,” Chavez said.

It is needed now more than ever.

“I really want to literally have a language house. That’s where people can come and learn the language, they hang out with each other, experience different cultures, so we’re leaning towards growing that, growing our course team. Going forward we really see ourselves as the number one partner in bridging language gaps in Omaha,” Chavez said.

Chavez will be honored at the nation’s largest young professionals conference in Omaha in late March. There is also a program called Justice Speaks where people of color discuss their lived experiences.

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