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Influx of Spanish-Speaking People Causes Some Growing Pains

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WILSON — Most North Carolina communities have seen the signs as more and more Spanish-speaking people are calling North Carolina home. And more and more, the difference in the language and culture is causing some growing pains as some communities handle it better than others.

By the time a Latino child born now enters second grade, she will be part of the largest minority group in America. Already, there are more Latino children in our country than African-American children.

Rosario Wilkins works with Latino immigrants every day, many of whom came here for jobs in agriculture. She says our culture is often a shock for such newcomers.

"They come from remote areas and here is just a totally new world," says Wilkins.

Wilkins adds that two of the biggest problems are a lack of transportation and the language barrier. Local emergency officers rely on interpreters to help. Nearly everyone at one rural health center speaks English and Spanish so patients don't have to rely on friends or relatives in order to communicate.

"When the patient has a confidential problem to talk about, they need to keep that confidential medical problem with the staff," says Betsy Richards, family nurse-practitioner.

Places of worship are also making changes. One Wilson church attracted so many Spanish-speaking people recently that it added two separate services, complete with interpreters, to accommodate the newcomers.

"We have a few people here in the church who speak good fluent Spanish and they do the worship services and they also interpret all the preaching services," says

More Spanish-speaking newcomers are expected to follow as families put down roots here, forcing communities to make room for the changing face of America.

Many doctors also have added priorities for their Spanish-speaking patients. Right now, they are battling an increase in cases involving rubella and tuberculosis in the migrant community.