In order to allow students to accommodate to the changing times while also furthering the global perspective, Gonzaga's modern languages and literature department is hosting an Intercultural Engagement Series of events for all disciplines over the course of this semester. 

This Intercultural Engagement Series will be held over Zoom and is running from now until Nov. 17.

“We felt that the usual informal conversations with students that take place in our College Hall office hallways was going to be missed,” said Christina Isabelli director of the modern languages and literature department, in an email. “After taking into consideration various parameters we decided that a series dedicated to Intercultural Engagement was a good idea.”

These virtual activities act as a supplement to the changes across campus that hinder possible community building between students in virtual classes. 

Designed to help promote interdisciplinary dialogue, all students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend. The events will be held in English to encourage participation from various areas of campus life.

“The event leaders will structure the event so that information is presented to afterward create a space for dialogue,” Isabelli said. “The dialogue could allow the opportunity for students to develop the ability to demonstrate and insightful and complex understanding of the target language cultures.”

Varying from presentations and discussions, each event is set up differently by modern languages and literature faculty.

In addition to a faculty member, some events are also created and led by student ambassadors across the various language programs.  

There is even a cooking class with the Spanish Club on Nov. 2 at 4 p.m.

“The events allow us to serve as educators regarding current events and different cultural celebrations,” said Alec Schumacher professor of Spanish.

He is hosting an event on Oct. 12 at noon, called “Día de la Raza: Celebration of Indigenous Cultures in Latin America.”

Held on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, also known as Columbus Day, this event will discuss how Día de la Raza is celebrated different in Latin America and how it shifts the emphasis away from the European perspective toward the Indigenous perspective, Schumacher said. 

Through this virtual event series, many of the faculty organizing each event are working to represent many of the underrepresented cultures that are not traditionally taught as much in classroom settings, Schumacher said.

Another one of the events, “A Focus on the Philippines” is being held today at 4:10 p.m. to learn about the fascinating history of the country.

While there are not currently any study abroad programs running, the Intercultural Engagement Series also allows students to broaden their worldview through Zoom.

Even though both Isabelli and Schumacher agree that these events will not be able to act as a replacement for the lessons learned from studying abroad, this series helps to provide a greater understanding of other cultures and promote implementing these lessons into creating experiences.

“It is really important to study language and culture otherwise experience is only at a very superficial level,” Schumacher said. “The magic formula is education and immersion, one without the other, is going to be deficient in some aspects.”

In order to provide other students with this first-hand educational experience, there are events lined up for panels of students who have previously studied abroad to recount their experiences. 

“What did I learn in Mexico?” on Nov. 11 at noon will host students who studied abroad in the Cuernavaca, Mexico program discussing what they learned. 

Isabelli said in addition to the Intercultural Engagement Series, students looking to expand their education can also attend weekly events hosted by the GU Center for Global Engagement.

A full list of events can be found on the modern languages and literature department website.

Georgia Cosola is a contributor. 

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