Celebrating the Diverse Cultural and Linguistic Backgrounds of Students at MIT | MIT News

The room was abuzz with lively conversations as nearly 70 students gathered to participate in the “Heritage Meets Heritage” event on October 27, hosted by MIT Global Studies and Languages ​​and co-sponsored by MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) and Hermanas Unidas.

Students participated in small group conversations on a variety of topics addressing cultural heritage diversity (their favorite, traditions, holidays, music) and issues such as linguistic heritage identity, multilingualism and multiculturalism , the perceptions of words in different languages ​​and the nuances of communication in different languages. languages ​​and cultures.

The Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Agustin Rayo, made a surprise visit, joining the conversations and then giving a short impromptu speech about the importance of embracing one’s own multiculturalism, to celebrate the diversity of cultural heritage at MIT and see it as a place where we can all find a sense of belonging.

The games, jokes and answers to questions in the Q&A contest drew laughter and applause. Trivial questions included:

● Where is the largest Japanese community in the world outside of Japan? (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
● Which African country has Spanish as an official language? (Equatorial Guinea)
● What language do the Amish speak? (a dialect of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch)
● Which country has the largest French-speaking population in Asia? (Vietnam)

The event ended with a tasting of foods from around the world: empanadas, steamed bao buns, pão de queijo, baklava, madeleines, pocky, etc. A playlist of international music served as a lively accompaniment to the conversations. Students also received a commemorative bag.

In their post-event feedback, students said they enjoyed the chance to meet other language learners, make new friends, engage in thought-provoking conversations, and sample international food. Freshman Michelle Wang said the event was a welcome change of pace that allowed her to “sit back and enjoy my time at MIT without the pressure of classes and homework.” Junior Alayo O Oloko commented on the group chats, saying, “The discussion questions were also very interesting, and many of them I hadn’t thought much of before.” Senior Toomas Tennisberg enjoyed meeting people from different cultures. He also enjoyed the games and the Q&A. “It was fun to learn new trivia, like Massachusetts’ third most spoken language (Portuguese) and the location of the oldest working library in the world (Lisbon).” Sophomore Hazel Mann said, “The food was delicious and I was very happy to have been able to eat food from different cultures. I really liked the baklava.

The organizing team for the event was led by Chinese speaker Min-Min Liang and involved other Global Languages ​​instructors, including Spanish speaker Mariana San Martín; Nilma Dominique, lecturer in Portuguese; and Maria Khotimsky, lecturer in Russian. The event was truly an opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity and learn from each other. In response to student feedback, Global Languages ​​plans to make “Heritage Meets Heritage” an annual tradition.

About Norma Wade

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