On November 16, 2011, over 700 students and teachers from 31 high schools gathered together at beautiful, new Union South for World Languages Day, a college-for-a-day experience for high school students and teachers focused on languages and cultures from around the world.
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Over 50 members of the UW-Madison community, including faculty, staff and students, volunteered their time to share their passion, enthusiasm and expertise to offer mini-language lessons, lectures and workshops on a wide range of topics, with titles such as"Yoruba Greetings," "Write Your Name and Say Hello in Russian," "Counting, Vietnamese Style," "Introducing the Pashtun Way of Life: Pashtunwali," and "Dancing in Zulu." Participants tried on Swahili clothing, made an Italian appetizer, greeted each other in Hindi, tackled Biblical passages in the original language, listened to Korean pop music, and much more!
Current UW-Madison students served essential roles at World Languages Day, too. Students took part in many presentations, assisting, demonstrating and acting out skits. At a panel entitled "Meet the Students: a Panel Discussion with UW-Madison Language Students" current students of a variety of languages spoke about the reasons they chose the language they study, what college study of a language is like, and their plans for the future. Finally, a corps of around 50 volunteer students assisted in the organization of World Languages Day, helping participants find their way, assisting presenters with their presentations, and generally being smiling faces for the university.
WLD participants were welcomed by Junko Mori, Director of the Language Institute, and Professor of Japanese; Gary Sandefur, Dean of the College of Letters & Science; Amy Stambach, Associate Dean of the Division of International Studies and Professor in the School of Education, and Wendy Johnson, World Languages Day organizer.
Lunchtime entertainment was provided by members of the UW Band and Bucky Badger himself. Bucky enjoyed the attention and the many photographs taken of him.
The Madison-based Yid Vicious, a band focused on the Yiddish music and dance of the Eastern European tradition, provided great entertainment at the end of the day. Audience members were invited to form a Varsity Hall-wide circle to dance to rousing music. The band even crossed traditions to indulge Wisconsinites' love of the polka.
World Language Day is an annual program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Language Institute. It was made possible this year by the generous support of the African Studies Program; the Anonymous Fund; the Center for East Asian Studies; the Center for European Studies; College of Letters and Science; Russian Flagship Center; and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Raffle prizes were supplied by Servv International.
Comments from participating high school students and teachers:
It was really great to be exposed to so many different languages and cultures, all within the span of a few hours. I thought the variety of classes available was great because everyone could find something they were interested in.--Student
I loved that I learned so much more about cultures and languages that I had knew nothing about previously. I feel as if I've increased my general knowledge of the world greatly.--Student
I loved learning phrases in different languages that I could take home and share with my friends and family. I also got to learn abut the cultures of certain places. By the end of the day, I had about six new places that I wanted to visit! --Teacher
It was very enjoyable to see the passion of students eager to learn a language other than English. It encourages me to work harder to learn a language. I liked every class that I went to. It is very interesting to see some of language that I have experienced before such as Hindu, and Arabic. While at World Languages Day, I really felt the world becoming one because everyone is trying to understand other cultures and trying to break barriers. I even liked the lunch time, with Bucky Badger and band players. --Teacher
See College of Letters & Science "News & Notes" article>
See the article in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune: "Lincoln High School Students Enjoy World Languages Day">
Photos courtesy of Pauline Zhu, Division of International Studies