Experienced Worker Runs into Language Barrier Seeking Valley Job

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HARLINGEN – For some Rio Grande Valley job seekers, knowing one language in a bilingual job market can be a challenge.

The last 11 months have been a streak of “maybes” and we'll-call-you-backs. After decades of work experience, Dawn Eastwood, 61, doesn't know where she'll turn next.

She moved to the Valley in 2016 to take care of her aging parents.

Eastwood, who spent part of her career working with children and the other part in restaurant settings, thinks her inability to speak Spanish is a factor.

"I just don't think they're giving me a fair chance," said Eastwood, who tried applying to restaurants, stores and gas stations around the Harlingen area.

Her last job was at a shelter where she worked with Spanish speaking immigrant children. She's been reading an English-Spanish dictionary.

"I sit and go through this every night," she said. "The little bit I do know I learned from a couple of boys I had in the last job I had."

Income stopped flowing as expenses continued, Eastwood said. She sold her car, many of her possessions and lives with her parents.

People in situations like these can seek one-on-one help with staff at Workforce Solutions, said Henry Castillo, the agency's regional director in Cameron County.

"If they come into the office, our staff can help identify and pinpoint those employers for them," he said.

A staff member can weed out jobs that have a language requirement.

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