We have heard of going around the world in 80 days, but how about in 60 minutes?
Such was the idea behind the Immersion Afternoon event hosted by the department of modern languages last Tuesday, in which students travel from room to room in Rowland Hall visiting different “countries.”
The various countries were rooms with informative projects and activities set up by various language disciplines for participants to consume and take part in, respectively.
Among those countries were Spain, France, China, Germany and places in Latin America. The citizens of each were faculty, students and exchange students of the corresponding language and culture.
The annual Immersion Afternoon event takes place in tandem with International Education Week on campus.
Events are held throughout the week, including an international film showing, information sessions, international foods night at Reisner Dining Hall, information and a fundraiser for victims of recent natural disasters. 5th-grade students from Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary school also set up an international flag display, and all week students were also welcomed to sit in on a language class to see if its right for them.
“This is a way to just show that learning a language opens the door to learning about other cultures and that it’s something that’s infinitely interesting,” said Robert Lesman, a professor in the modern languages department.
Participants were welcomed by the smell of international foods like spring rolls, apple strudel and empanadas provided by Chartwells dining services as well as the sound of foreign-language karaoke. They were also given a packet of questions that could be answered by finding the relevant information in one of the rooms.
Some students did this to receive extra credit for their classes, while others simply wanted to find out more about what the department of modern languages has to offer.
For the latter, exchange students like Kristina Nygaard were an invaluable resource, answering questions about her home country of Germany and her experience abroad.
“I can really just recommend to anyone to go abroad,” said Nygaard. “As long as you’re open and you want to get to know people, they will be open, too.”
The event also serves to promote the department of modern languages, which hopes to foster an interest in its programs.
“We want everybody to enjoy what we’re teaching, basically,” said Agnes Ragone, a professor in the modern languages department. “It tantalizes the students and encourages them to investigate and be curious about what we do, and the places we’re teaching them about.”
Overall, the event is made to be fun. Faculty spoke about how much they enjoy speaking with students outside of class and seeing how much interest there was in their programs.
For the participants, their favorite part was pretty uniform.
“My favorite part,” said SU senior Hugh Rainey, “was probably the food.”