*Four Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
Last year, the movie Avengers: Endgame gained a worldwide gross of $2.8 billion, making it the highest earning film of all time. Our culture has a thirst for stories about extraordinary characters who step up to seemingly insurmountable challenges and overcome them. But beyond the glitz of special effects, an attractive cast, and loud explosions, we don’t have to look very far to find real heroes in Indiana. These heroes put on their company t-shirts every day and step out into a world unknown to most of us. These heroes risk their wellbeing working the lines of assembled supplies and goods that come off conveyor belts, on to forklifts that load trucks, which then head out to their awaited destinations.
GEODIS is dedicated to quality transport, logistics and supply chain management. They are deemed an essential business not just because of the products they move but also the actual service they provide. Companies like GEODIS keep our country functioning; without them and their workforce, trucks would be parked and empty. During times of crisis, the government depends on logistics services like GEODIS to make sure medical supplies make it to the hospitals and shelves in grocery stores remain stocked.
At GEODIS, everyday heroes work to maintain the supply chains that keep our communities alive. Being an “essential worker” has taken on a new meaning recently, and it is important that their efforts are not forgotten.
In late March of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate into a greater crisis globally, the regional HR team at GEODIS arranges safety training for all its warehouse employees. As essential workers, GEODIS’ leadership team knows it is imperative employees in the Plainfield area practice safety measures such as social distancing and sanitizing their personal environments. GEODIS also creates special teams of employees with additional safety leadership responsibilities.
Two LUNA language interpreters are requested to assist Travis French, GEODIS Vice President of Operations, on providing COVID-19 safety training. He personally meets face to face with the entire workforce of nearly 1800 teammates across multiple buildings and locations.
Jim Suber, Director of HR, asks: “How long can LUNA’s interpreters work?” LUNA responds, “Do you need us to start with the early shift and finish with the late one? During these days, whatever it takes, Jim!”
One interpreter speaks Spanish and the other speaks Burmese and Chin. The interpreters accompany Travis from warehouse to warehouse as he delivers detailed instructions to all the workers who lack English proficiency. In an amazing display of organization and smart planning, large groups attend the training in a big empty space while still practicing safe social distancing. Indicators are placed on the floor to let each employee know where to stand–several feet away from their coworkers. One group finishes and is replaced by the next.
Eventually, the interpreters ease into the safety training workflow. They have memorized the safety script in three languages as the VP delivers the training in English. It was evident that GEODIS arrived with all necessary COVID-19 multi-lingual resources and was ready to impart timely information, reassure concerns, and answer questions from their associates. The multilingual training continues for two 8-hour workdays; everyone else completes the training on the third day. That was enough time to make sure every single employee understood the new protocols in place.
These teammates are unsung heroes. This crisis would become much worse without the essential goods and services they assemble. The management team also deserves recognition for the foresight of including language access as a vital component of communications surrounding this crisis. They understood that hearing and reading safety procedures in your own language validates your value and makes the unknown less scary.
Without the cooperation of every single member in the community, all mitigation efforts to curtail the spread of this virus will fail.
The GEODIS and LUNA teams were able to deliver vital information to a huge workforce without putting them in additional danger of being exposed, and that is no small feat. Last but certainly not least, LUNA’s interpreters themselves, as essential first responders, are also heroes in providing their professional language skills at Indiana’s hospitals and warehouses during these times of uncertainty. We salute our heroes; their loyalty and work-ethic are their superpowers, and their dedication and efforts should not be forgotten once this crisis is over.
About the Author: David Gonzalez’s role has continued to grow at LUNA from Spoken Language Coordinator to Client Care Representative on our Marketing and Sales Team. His experience as a Staff Spanish Interpreter brings real hands-on experience as he helps clients navigate their language needs. He has been working at LUNA for over two years and continues to bring a great perspective on language access.