In mid-November students and faculty may have noticed pink signs placed in a variety of locations around campus labeling things like doors, windows, and stairs in a variety of different languages.
The signs were a part of the celebration of International Education Week Nov. 14-18 at UAS, welcoming the knowledge and understanding of different cultures from around Alaska and around the world.
Welcome to Our World, an event familiarizing students with international traditions and toys kicked off the week on Monday. Students could learn to make origami and piñatas, or get a henna tattoo from Middle Eastern Dance instructor Shawn Damerval.
Tuesday’s event was Loving Languages, where students could ask fluent speakers questions about languages, like how to say different words and phrases in Spanish, French, Russian, and Tlingit. Loving Languages gave students a chance to become comfortable with a foreign language.
“This is an opportunity for people interested in or wanting to practice a language,” said Academic Exchange and Study Abroad Coordinator Marsha Squires. “You can come and practice [speaking a language] or learn a phrase, like ‘thank you’ or ‘hello’ in a certain language.”
“I had students come and ask me how to pronounce some things and say different phrases,” said French faculty member Michel Meersman, who was on-hand for students who wanted to learn more about languages.
“Language is totally related to culture,” said Beatrice Franklin, Egan Interlibrary Loans Services librarian and a fluent speaker of French. “Speaking a different language can really open doors into understanding art, literature and culture.”
Wednesday’s event was A Taste of Culture, featuring desserts from around the world, free samples, a bake sale and a silent auction of delicious foreign treats. The Mourant Café also spiced up their menu with different foreign fare each day. The proceeds from the silent auction went to benefit the Global Connections club.
Some of the funds raised by Global Connections during International Education Week go to spreading Christmas joy to children in need. Donations of toys, toothbrushes and other small items were collected for Operation Christmas Child, a program that makes sure needy children around the world receive presents at Christmas time. Volunteers filled shoe boxes with the items.
“We donate our funds from the events to pay for the shipping of those shoe boxes,” Squires said.
Thursday and Friday was the biannual World Art Market. “The World Art Market sells art through Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit organization that supports artisans from around the world,” explained Squires.
UAS’ a capella group Alaskapella sang songs from around the world and the Student Alumni Association put a foreign spin on their usual Dinner and a Movie event, featuring the foreign film Bread and Tulips, with catering by Abby’s Kitchen.
“The U.S. Departments of State and Education created International Education Week to encourage the sharing of student and faculty diversity and the awareness of cultures around the world,” said Squires. “The world is small and we need to become global citizens. UAS has great opportunities and great resources with many members of the faculty and staff speaking foreign languages.”
In addition to French speaking librarian Beatrice Franklin, English faculty Nina Chordas speaks French, Russian and Spanish. Alaska Native Languages program director Lance Twitchell and a number of other faculty and students speak Alaska Native languages.
For students interested in learning more about Global Connections, Study Abroad, the Peace Corps, or foreign languages, visit Marsha Squires downstairs in the Mourant Building at the Academic Exchange and Study Abroad office.