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Ontario’s Vargas pioneers health initiatives, at home and statewide

Maria Vargas, 37, created the Oregon Health Authority's Spanish Facebook page. (Submitted photo)

ONTARIO – Like many Latinx kids, Maria Vargas perfected her Spanish through translation. Most information in Ontario, where she grew up, was in English only. While her father could speak English, her mother couldn’t, so Vargas necessarily became an interpreter, always keeping her mother up to speed on what was going on.

“Anytime we were in a store, restaurant, school, doctor’s office or there was a letter/document/sign in English, I interpreted or translated it for my mom,” said Vargas, now 37. “It wasn’t because she didn’t want to speak English or she didn’t try. Learning a new language is challenging and involves more than just knowledge, it also involves pronunciation which is where she struggled in speaking it . . .