Entries in Diversity (1)


Utah Mayor Launches English Initiative to Improve Communication

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Utah isn't typically described as a melting pot of diversity, but one mayor whose city bucks the state's norm is trying to improve communication within his community.

The immigration debate continues to rage in Utah, which has seen its share of reform bills at the state level. But West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder said he's less concerned with how his residents got to his city than with improving communication among neighbors, business owners and those who teach their children.

West Valley City is the second-largest city in Utah, but ranks number one in diversity. Forty-five percent of its population is minority, with large immigrant populations of Hispanics, Vietnamese and Laotians. West Valley City is home to the largest Polynesian community in a city of its size outside of Honolulu.

At one elementary school, a reported 85 different languages are spoken by students and staff.

Winder said his employees have reported an inability to communicate with residents about city ordinances. So Winder proposed a simple and obvious solution -- English lessons. Already offered for free or at discounted rates by community groups, most of the classes taught in West Valley City were virtually empty.

Now, Winder has teamed with community leaders to spread the word about these classes -- that they are available to anyone. Residents who complete an English course will be recognized at a city council meeting and receive a certificate from the mayor.

"Immigration is a tough, complex issue, and there's a lot of different opinions on what's the right way to handle it and approach it, "Winder said. "As city leaders, we look at what is practical and what is the real problem -- where the rubber hits the road."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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