UF participates in International World Language Day

By Cassie Arnett, ArnettC@Findlay.edu

According to Kawamura, Christina Muryn, Mayor of Findlay, wants to make Findlay and the campus a place where people feel included, and international students feel safe. 

On Feb. 21, the University of Findlay took part in International World Language Day, an international event, for the seventh consecutive year. UF celebrates students’ various languages and cultures by organizing this public show annually to bring awareness to the diversity of students on campus.  

The purpose of this event is to promote awareness of thousands of languages and cultures worldwide. According to Hiroaki Kawamura, Associate Professor of Japanese, Director of Modern Language, and the University International Relations Representative and Liaison, the worldwide event originated after a language protest in Bangladesh, where it has become an annual major event.  

“This event (at UF) began in 2018 when a student native to Bangladesh asked me to participate in this event, and it has been reoccurring since, Kawamura said. 

UF celebrated this event by hosting a public show of songs, dances, and poems that pay tribute to the student’s mother language at the College of Business/Student Life Center. According to Kawamura, around 20-30 languages were represented from the 47 countries represented on campus this semester. One performance came from an MBA graduate student, Jhanvi Patel.  

Patel is from India and participated in a cultural dance with three other students from India. This dance was performed with a mix of Bollywood songs (songs from the Indian movie industry). Patel and the other students performed this dance as a tribute to their mother language and the opportunity meant a lot to them.  

“The audience didn’t understand the language of our song, but they still enjoyed our dance,” Patel said. It was fun to see different cultures and see other students perform songs and dances from their culture as well. It is a great experience.”  

Kawamura helped to organize this event as he said it was a way to, promote the importance of welcoming people who speak different languages. This event, put on by UF Language and Culture program, aims not only celebrate the diversity of students but to encourage the students to be more comfortable with expressing themselves in their native language.  

“If we don’t create a welcoming and inclusive environment, those students will hide themselves,” Kawamura said. We don’t want these students to hide their language, we want them to celebrate it. This requires effort from students, faculty, and staff members.” 

This year the event opened to the public for the first time. This year, community members were invited to watch and participate in the event to extend the mayor’s efforts in making the city inclusive to everyone.
“If we give respect to their culture, then we will get respect for ours,” Patel said 

UF plans to continue hosting this public event in the future to bring awareness to the many languages around the world.  

“It started and we plan to continue this event, it takes time to change the campus and community culture and we know that,” Kawamura said. We need to continuously to this in order to change the perspective.”