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Celebrating the “Year of Languages”

Lehigh’s program to celebrate the role of languages in learning officially kicked off in late September with the unveiling of a poster honoring the upcoming year-long series of events. The poster, created by university designer Marvin Simmons, employs the metaphor of language and song to convey the significance and richness of languages in contemporary life.

In launching the program, Lehigh joined with colleges and universities across the country in the “Year of Languages” celebration. It will include the presentation of special literary, cultural and culinary events that will continue through April ’06.

Events slated include film showings, musical performances, dance lessons, lectures, concerts, exhibits, poetry readings, artist demonstrations, and selected culinary celebrations for Hanukkah, Russian New Year, and Oktoberfest. There will also be a costume ball to celebrate Mardi Gras in mid-March.

Present at the unveiling were Anne Meltzer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as several faculty, adjunct faculty, lecturers, graduate and undergraduate students, according to Mary Nicholas, professor and chair of modern languages and coordinator of the university’s interpretation of the national “Year of Languages” program.

“We want to make people aware of the wonderful resources the department has in offering classes in eight languages and cultures,” says Nicholas, who worked with staff and faculty members in developing Lehigh’s “Year of Languages” program.

“More than 25 percent of the undergraduates at Lehigh already take classes in foreign languages and cultures every day in our department, and more and more students are studying their third and fourth languages. Almost all of them want to study overseas, and most expect to use their linguistic and cultural expertise in their careers.”

The reward of exposure to and appreciation of foreign languages also has a practical consideration, Nicholas adds.

“There is clear evidence that every student here at Lehigh could benefit from the inclusion of language learning in their academic plans and career preparation curriculum,” she says. “Government and industry both have a pressing need for employees with a clear understanding of the cultures and languages of other countries. We operate in a global community, and people with multiple language proficiency will command a premium place in the workforce.”

For more information about the series of events scheduled at Lehigh over the academic year, call (610) 758-3090. Or click here for more information about the “Year of Languages” program nationwide.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2005

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