Hills Banks first to add Mandarin Chinese to Corridor ATMs

Bank’s effort part of Iowa City area’s continuing efforts to better welcome Chinese students

By George Ford, The Gazette

Hills bank atm

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Hills Bank and Trust has become the first Corridor bank to offer Mandarin as a language option on automated teller machines.

The Hills-based bank updated the ATM in the lobby of its Old Capitol Town Center office in mid-December. The bank plans to install Mandarin on other ATMs across the University of Iowa campus as part of software upgrades.

Other Corridor financial institutions, such as MidWestOne Bank and Wells Fargo Bank, also offer English and Spanish language options on ATMs. 

Last fall, more than 2,600 students from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were enrolled in classes at the university, according to the UI International Student and Scholar Services office. Students from the three areas account for 59 percent of the 4,360 international students enrolled at the UI.

suyun ma

Suyun Ma, Global External Relations Coordinator for UI International Programs

Suyun Ma, global external relations coordinator for International Programs at the UI, said the addition of Mandarin as an ATM language option and other translation efforts in the community will help international students adapt to a new culture. 

“I have been in their shoes,” Ma said, said of the new arrivals. “Immersed in a totally different culture and language, most new international students feel overwhelmed and even scared at some point. 

“I appreciate the importance of having this kind of convenience and assistance in local ATMs.” 

Broader effort

Kate Moreland, director of collaboration and community relations at the Iowa City Area Development Group, said a task force led by her organization has been working on projects aimed at improving communication with the international community. 

“Translation is always an area of focus, and we continue to work with local entities on how to better reach out to our international community and be more welcoming,” Moreland said. 

“This includes translating the Iowa City-Coralville Area Convention and Visitor Bureau’s welcome guide into multiple languages and working with area banks to add Chinese to their ATMs.” 

Tom Markus, city manager in Iowa City, said the task force also is looking at improving housing and international relations. 

“We’ve started communications with the university about how to improve temporary and permanent housing options for new international students who arrive on campus,” Markus said. “There also is initial discussion on developing an ambassador program to help students, visitors, and new residents navigate our community and share in our culture.”

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