Multi-Lingual “Speak Out”

November 29, 2016
11:00 amto3:00 pm

Dear Colleagues and Students,

In response to reports of colleagues and students who have felt uneasy speaking languages other than English—particularly Spanish—in public in the days since the election, and out of a wish to celebrate and make audible as well as visible the many, many languages we speak, I invite you to participate in a multi-lingual “speak out” at the EMU amphitheater, Nov. 29, 11:00-3:00 (we’re still exploring alternate indoor EMU space in case of bad weather). This will be an informal event where faculty, students, staff, and community members are invited to say a few words in a language that’s meaningful to them—one they’re studying, one they learned at home, one that belongs to their family’s heritage, one they use in research. It might take the form of a testimonial (“what studying French has meant to me”), or the reading of a poem or a short passage of prose. A person might simply introduce herself as a speaker of Arabic or Swedish or Swahili. Some people might want to sing a song, chant nursery rhymes, or recite a soliloquy from a classic play. All languages are welcome (ASL emphatically included).

This gathering builds on the important, ongoing work of Claudia Holguín Mendoza and the rest of the faculty and students in the Spanish Heritage Language program, whose organization of events such as National Spanglish Day (also celebrated in the EMU amphitheater) continually highlight the ways in which living bilingually may be liberating, but can also be sharply constrained. The current atmosphere feels more charged to many, but the challenges of speaking Spanish in public are not new.

This will be an open-mic, drop-in event, but if you know you’d like to speak, please stop by the Romance Languages department office in 102 Friendly; we’ll have a sign-up sheet available. You can also sign up at the event.

I hope you’ll want to join in, invite your students and friends, and help to spread the word.

From: Amalia Gladhart, Professor of Spanish, and Head, Department of Romance Languages