The International Interest Group at Randolph-Macon College hosted a celebration in honor of International Mother Language Day on February 21 in order to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism.
In order to promote cultural awareness on campus, the group created a video to highlight just how diverse the backgrounds of students are at Randolph-Macon. The two-minute video shows many different students speaking various languages, from English to Vietnamese to French. The video was premiered in the Estes “fish bowl” room as part of the celebration on Sunday evening.
This was the first time that this group has celebrated the holiday, but according to Secretary Claudia Marina, the International Interest Group wanted to find a way to celebrate the diversity represented on campus.
“I think that International Mother Language Day was a great opportunity to reach out to more people, as we have set to do during this academic year with our events. Sometimes there is the misconception that only international students represent different cultures, when in fact we have many more students whom have non-US cultural backgrounds, or who are just interested in learning more about other cultures. That is why we included American students as well as other members of IIG; to celebrate not just foreign cultures, but the culture that is hosting so many of us too,” Marina explained.
International Mother Language Day has been observed since 2000, corresponding with a date in 1952 when students from many colleges in Pakistan, demonstrating for the recognition of Bengali as one of the two national languages of East Pakistan, were shot dead in what is present-day Bangladesh. Formally recognized as the International Year of the Languages by the United Nations General Assembly, this holiday is celebrated all over the world. At the global scale, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, spoke of the importance that this day has on society.
“Mother languages in a multilingual approach are essential components of quality education, which is itself the foundation for empowering women and men and their societies. We must recognize and nurture this power, in order to leave no one behind, to craft a more just and sustainable future for all,” Bokova said in a statement.
Randolph-Macon’s International Interest Group recognizes how powerful a quality education can be, and they have hosted many other events this past year to educate college students and the surrounding community about many different cultures. One of their most recent events was an International Showcase where students presented food, dances, fashion, and music from all over the world. The President of International Interest Group, Marylita Poma, says with all this diversity present on campus, it is important to share the multiple cultures that surround us in the ‘Center of the Universe’. The next big event coming up for IIG is the Festival of Color: Holi. This will be on May 1st, to celebrate the end of the semester with a traditional Indian carnival that incorporates color powder, water, music and tons of fun.
-Erin Roberts ’16, Senior News Editor