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Billings student brings story time to Spanish speakers in the community



Justin Pallo is a senior at Montana State University Billings who decided to volunteer his time by reading Spanish picture books to kids in the community

Pallo said Wednesday morning that he started speaking Spanish after taking classes in high school but progressed in his fluency later.

“I was a missionary in Argentina for a couple years and having to use it every single day really helped me develop that. Once I got home from that, I was a Spanish interpreter at a small clinic in Utah,” said Pallo.

Pallo said that he has been fluent in the language for five years now.

After starting his education at Brigham Young University in Utah, Pallo moved to Billings, where he is now finishing his biology degree and will soon be applying for medical school. He said that when he arrived in Billings, he wanted to find a way to use his Spanish-speaking ability in the community.

“I was looking for something in the community where I could use my Spanish and have some fun and get some volunteer hours. So, I contact MSUB’s volunteer coordinator,” said Pallo.

Pallo said he was able to be linked up with the Billings Public Library where he would soon be able to be the host of Story Time in Español on the library’s YouTube channel.

Due to COVID-19 guidelines, Pallo said he is recording his readings of the Spanish picture books at home using his tablet. He said he has read about seven books for kids so far and he plans to continue reading about two to three per month.

Pallo said that he plans to continue volunteering his time for as long as he is in Billings.

“I love seeing people smile. Speaking to them in their own language brings a smile to their face. I try to imagine that they are virtually sitting in front of me hearing things in their own language and being able to smile and appreciate what is going on,” says Pallo.

Library patrons and their kids can catch a reading of one of their favorite Spanish picture books every first and third Friday of the month on the Billings Public Library YouTube page.

Pallo said that volunteering is important, and it is needed in the community. He says that everyone should volunteer.

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