Learning language and culture beyond the classroom: CSLC hosts Language & Culture Week beginning Feb. 11

Author: Sierra Weaver

The Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC) at the University of Notre Dame will host its third annual Language & Culture Week. Events will begin Sunday, Feb. 11, with activities lasting through the following Sunday, Feb. 18. The week will feature 60 events hosted by more than 15 departments and student groups across campus, including all global language programs. It is open to the public.

Language Culture Week Poster 400x
Language and Culture Week will feature 60 events hosted by more than 15 departments and campus groups across campus, including all global language programs.

The idea for a weeklong celebration of culture originated from National Foreign Language Week, which was created in the 1950s by the national sorority Alpha Gamma Mu and was formally supported by President Dwight Eisenhower a few years later. Much like the national celebration, the CSLC’s Language & Culture Week (LCW) — formerly known as Foreign Language Week — was initiated to help students expand their interest in languages and respective cultures outside of the classroom.

The week’s events are organized by faculty from various language departments and programs, with the CSLC providing planning support. LCW inspires professors and students to go beyond what they usually experience in the classroom by creating events they believe will best bring attention to the language, celebrate the variety of cultures on campus, and give attendees the opportunity to share their learning and explore new languages.

Eva Hoeckner, the CSLC program manager for language initiatives, said the programs seek to “showcase what you can do with language and the work that students and faculty do.” An assistant teaching professor of German, Hoeckner also emphasized the importance of reaching beyond the classroom and “motivating students to engage with language in a fashion they feel would be interesting to them.”

During Language & Culture Week, there will be two signature events — the Culture Fair held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 13 in the Hesburgh Library Scholars Lounge and the World Music and Dance Fest held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 in LaBar Performance Hall in O’Neill Hall of Music.

Activities presented at the Culture Fair by professors, students, and visiting artists will reflect languages taught at Notre Dame. This year, participants can engage in hands-on activities, like Carneval mask-making or traditional Chinese or Korean painting workshops. They can also explore Indigenous languages and cultures, like Potowatomi and Navajo.

At the World Music & Dance Fest, students will be able to experience language and culture through various musical performances and workshops. The event will be hosted by ethnomusicology professor Jon Bullock, who will play Kurdish instruments and teach Kurdish dance. In addition, the audience will be able to watch and participate in a mix of performances and workshops that will take them across the globe with Latin, Irish, African, Chinese, and Bollywood dance and song.

Students and faculty are invited to attend similarly themed events over the course of the whole week. These range from Masses in a variety of different languages, such as Swahili, German, Arabic, or Italian, to cultural presentations on Quechua (an indigenous language of Peru) embroidered bookmarks or Brazilian Carnaval.

Hoeckner describes her experience coordinating the events as “sheer joy” as participating departments come together for the common goal of providing opportunities for students to find enrichment in exploring languages and cultures.

Language & Culture Week is open to the public, and a detailed list of events can be found on the CSLC’s website or through the ND Mobile app.