Welcoming Diversity at OH WOW!

By Nami Nagaoka

On Sunday morning, the OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology started creating a welcome sign in various languages in downtown Youngstown.

iPals, an international Youngstown State University community group, collaborated with OH WOW! to come up with the idea and original design.

The sign will say ‘Welcome’ large, in English, and will be filled with ‘Welcome’ in various other languages surrounded by flags. It will be in bold colors such as red, blue and green and will be written in bubble characters to appeal to OH WOW!’s visitors.

Suzanne Barbati, president and executive director of OH WOW!, said they received funding last year from the Frank & Pearl E. Gelbman Charitable Trust to promote the center becoming more inclusive language-wise.

According to Barbati, the project is funding a welcome sign that represents all of the languages of the people in Youngstown’s diverse community.

The sign is going to be approximately 2 feet tall and 6 feet long and will be displayed at OH WOW!’s entrance.

Barbati came up the idea of this project when she saw a sign in various languages at the Pittsburgh airport.

“I hope that this provides some impetus to change the direction of our conversation in the narrative; it’s happening international level,” said Barbati.

Sam Anderson, a senior majoring in finance and economic, said she had a great time doing this project with different individuals from all over the world.

“It’s really great steps forward,” said Anderson. “No matter what languages you speak, we are all the same and we want to be friendly and open to each other.”

Thao Pham, a freshman majoring in business administration, said she heard some Vietnamese languages when she traveled to Portland in Oregon and felt connected and more at home, even in a new environment.

“It [the sign] can help international people feel close to the new country where they are living or studying,” said Pham. “It seems like a warm and friendly greeting.”

Anderson said the iPals and the YSU Graphic Services are currently working on the final design and the sign is expected to be finished by the end of this semester.