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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Congratulations Anna!

Congratulations to Tandem Plus Assistant Anna Kaminski, who received a Boren Scholarship to study in Jordan next year! Anna, who is a junior at the University of Minnesota, has been studying Arabic for three years, and currently is a student in Hisham Khalek's Arabic 5102 class. She studied in Oman in Summer 2011 and is very excited to be going abroad again.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. To learn more about Boren Scholarships, click here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thank You-Merci-Kiitos-Gracias-Arigato-Grazie-Miigwech-Takk-Spasibo-Mahad Sanid-Shukran-Danke

A big thank you to everyone who taught, provided staff support, or assisted in any way with World Languages Day on May 15, 2012. The feedback we have received so far from students and teachers has been extremely positive. They appreciated the educational opportunity, learned something new, and had a lot of fun.

This event is successful because of our instructors, staff and volunteers. It is a broad group effort, and we could not pull this event off without the support of multiple colleges and units, including CLA, GPS Alliance, CCE, CEHD, Admissions, Facilities Management and more.

A full list of instructors and volunteers is below. Some of the individuals I would particularly highlight include:

The core World Languages Day work team:
Rachel Faynik Marbell, Bethany Schowengerdt, Jenny Boe, Diane Rackowski and Boon Xiong

Rachel left the project mid-year, but worked hard on it through January, and was instrumental in its success. In many ways, it remained her event, even though she was only present on May 15 in spirit. Bethany took over from Rachel, and worked very efficiently and enthusiastically, even recruiting many of our instructors and volunteers from her academic program, and even her own family. Jenny served as the primary manager of volunteers. Diane and Boon worked on the event almost year round by maintaining the complicated registration system.

Our tech support leaders and key problem solvers:
Diane Rackowski, Catherine Clements, Ross Gebelin, Marlene Johnshoy, Jenise Rowekamp and Luis Ramos-Garcia

Our volunteer instructors from the community:
All instructors volunteered their time and energy to plan and teach their classes. Most instructors had an affiliation with the U of M, either as an employee or as a graduate student. A growing number of WLD instructors are affiliated with the university, but not currently with department that teaches the language they shared at the event.

However, the following instructors participated, despite not having any official affiliation with the university. They volunteered simply because they believe in second language education and K-12 outreach. The fellow U of M who recruited and supported them are also noted:

Marlene Milesi: Co-instructor of Les Delices de France: Learn to Eat (and Speak) like the French. She was recruited by her co-instructor Lydia Belat├Ęche.

Sigga Gudmundsdottir: Instructor of Eyjafjallajokull: Don't fear the word, fear the volcano! She was recruited by fellow Icelander Thorunn Bjarnadottir, who taught an ISSS class.

Jonathan Townsend, Miguel Hurtado and Russell Packard: Co-instructors and musicians for Afro Cuban Music. They were all recruited by fellow instructor and musician, Gabriela Sweet.

Here is (I hope) a list of everyone who volunteered to teach or provide support on May 15:

Instructors: Said S. Ahmed, Lydia Belateche, Nels Berge, Sara Bianco, Jim Bierma, Thorunn Bjarnadottir, Yunseong Cheon, Juliette Cherbuliez, Hangtae Cho, Thuy Doan, Kait Dougherty, Chantal Figueroa, Satty Flaherty-Echeverria, Monica Frahm, Sigga Gudmundsdottir, E. Haven Hawley, Mary Hermes, Ari Hoptman, Cynthia Hornbeck, Miguel Hurtado, Daniel Karvonen, Beth Kautz, Keiko Kawakami, Sara Khanzadi, Sean Killackey, Natalia Krasnobayev, Juavah Lee, Eric Leinen, Qijie Li, Jacqueline Listemaa, Sara MacKenzie, Frances Matos-Schultz, Molly Micheels, Marlene Milesi, Patricia Mougel, Avrora Moussorlieva, Alphonce Nicholaus, Jenneke Oosterhoff, Russell Packard, Barbara Pierre Louis, Kathy Rider, DeeAnn Sime, Dan Soneson, Gabriela Sweet, Kenichi Tazawa, Danielle Tisinger, Jonathan Townsend, Rick Treece, Sarah Tschida, Ulrike Tschirner, Toke van Gehuchten, Ishaa Vintinner, Emelee Volden, Ling Wang, Betsy Warner, Sondes Wooldridge, Ellen Wormwood, Xinyi Wu, Hanna Zmijewska-Emerson, Zhen Zou

Welcoming Remarks Presenters: Evelyn Davidheiser, Yer Her

Staff and Volunteers: Linda Andrean, Katie Ask, Fatima Babu, Clare Beer, Jordan Bengston, Will Benton, Liri Berglund, Jenny Boe, Catherine Clements, Ingrid Cook, Naomi Crocker, Danielle Dadras, Elizabeth Dillard, Eva Dixon, Andrew Ensign, Gwen Evans, Ross Gebelein, Andre Gordillo, Mackenzie Haws, Yer Her, Phil Hanley, Mohamed Hussein, Louis Janus, Marlene Johnshoy, Richiko Kamata, Jeonggyun Kang, Nick Keller, Kaishan Kong, Deborah LeClaire, Kate Martin, Anise McDowell, Saoirse McMahon, Jesse Millard, Trang Nguyen, Kaoru Nunn, Cheryl Oulicky, Meghann Peace, Joanne Peltonen, Liza Pierre, Diane Rackowski, Luis Ramos-Garcia, Jenise Rowekamp, Bethany Schowengerdt, Robyn Schowengerdt (and the rest of the Schowengerdt family), Ashley Rose Steinhauser, Zach Stern, Allison Suhan, Ian Taylor, Gebisa Urgessa, Henry Wahl, Willie Wong, Xue Xiong, Dongming Yang, Soa Yang, Brian Zarate, Siwei Zhao

We haven't yet discussed the possibility of offering World Languages Day 2013, but if we do it will be our (drumroll) 10th annual event! We would welcome any ideas about how to shake things up, and find new ways to engage students in lifelong language and culture learning!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Whirlwind Tour of World Languages Day

The West Bank was a scene of bustling activity on May 15th this year. Volunteers arrived early (early by the "real world" definition as well as the college one) to set up for the 1100 high school students who would soon be arriving for World Languages Day. I passed them several times greeting the students with schedules, maps, breakfast, and a smile. While weaving in and out of the groups of students in line for their croissants and coffee, I was pleasantly surprised by their energy and that of the volunteers patiently directing them.

For many students, World Languages Day is probably just another field trip. I was hoping that for some, it would be a time for a "light bulb" moment and give them a minute's inspiration to continue their language learning. But there was not much time to muse about this, as I got a call that more buses were arriving and creatively deciding on new drop locations.

Soon, it was time for welcoming remarks by Yer Her, a student ambassador, and Evelyn Davidheiser, director of the Institute for Global Studies and then off to classes for the first group of students. While in previous years of World Languages Day, I had the opportunity to sit in and do small tasks in the actual classes, this year of World Languages Day was my chance to see the workings outside of the classes that make them possible. It was passing smiling Stephanie Treat, the World Languages Day coordinator umpteen times in the halls as she was on her way to a new mission and waving to instructors I know. It was greeting my co-workers from the Language Center and volunteers, as they busily guided students, moved materials, solved technical difficulties in the classrooms, and kept some of the more spirited high schoolers in check. Months of planning made for a smooth World Languages Day, with over 50 classes in a variety of languages and cultures. But every year, as World Languages Day staff can tell you, comes with its individual challenges and successes.

Between waving my arms in the parking lot to direct traffic, checking in with everyone, and navigating students, I did have a few moments to peak into some classes. Then, riiinnngg, the pizza arrived! Lunch was one of the highlights of my World Languages Day, as I had the chance to thank instructors and volunteers, and chat with them to see how their various tasks and classes went. While walking between buildings during the clean-up phase, the high school students, their teachers, and chaperones were enjoying the beautiful sunshine and lunch. After picking up and of course flipping through some of the surveys, I saw a few typical teenage responses, a blank form with checks by appropriate boxes. However, a spin on this typical response caught me by surprise in my search for comments. One student had made a box next to the "very good", checked it, and wrote "amazing" underneath. Yes, despite all the running, all the planning, the unexpected downfalls and triumphs that come with any event, I think we can call World Languages Day 2012 a great day. Thank you to all of the staff and volunteers that made WLD not just possible, but fantastic!