It is a truth, perhaps not universally acknowledged, that a large percentage of college instructors come from middle-and lower-middle-class families of industrial workers, construction workers, hard-scrabble farmers, farm workers, and other blue-collar employees. I am one of them. Like a great many people I have met in my line of work, I chose a profession that offered a moderate but secure income and a modicum of status—two things that I did not grow up with; like many of my colleagues, I followed the ideal of humanistic education rather than the lure of material success.
In the summer of 1995, I was first called to act as a court translator for the Eighth Judicial District Court. I had been an instructor at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington since 1981 and teaching Spanish since 1988, so I was not a stranger to the community. I had grown up in a bi-cultural, bilingual family and had worked with Spanish-speaking populations in agriculture and public service programs, so I was not a stranger to the community I was about to serve. As it turned out, some of the defendant’s friends and family members were former students of mine, and other friends and family members would be students of mine in future years.