The world is home to about 6,000 to 7,000 languages, but how many are spoken at Norwich University? In one class, EN 199 Advanced Academic English II, world languages are commonplace. As a group, the 15 international and multilingual American students in this class know more than 25 languages.
To spotlight language as an academic, cultural, and international resource, the class sponsored two events.
First, it hosted the Norwich Forever Multilingual Video contest, which invited the community to create videos featuring our collegiate motto, “Norwich Forever,” in any language. Students, faculty, and staff submitted more than 50 videos in more than 30 languages, using handheld phones and iPads to film themselves in classrooms, offices, dorms, the library, the campus center, the athletic field, and even on Paine Mountain. Professors in the Spanish, French, Chinese, and German programs integrated the contest into classes in the Department of English and Communications and in the Department of Modern Languages.
College of Liberal Arts videographer Jim Black with NU TV made a two-minute compilation of contest entries you can see here.
Second, the class hosted a World Languages Fair on Feb. 21, the same day as UNESCO International Mother Language Day. Thirty students volunteered as language ambassadors and hosted tables associated with their language. Participants received a festival passport and visited the tables, where they learned to say “I will try” in 18 languages including Sinhala, Newari, French, Italian, and Korean.
The room was a festive cacophony of language and culture.
The winning videos from the Norwich Forever Multilingual Video contest were shown at the fair and awarded prizes sponsored by the Provost’s Office. First prize went to the Francophone Cadets on the Norwich men's hockey team (Gabriel Chicoine, Maxime Borduas, Felix Brassard, Tom Aubrun, and Alex Monteleone). See their video here. Norwich women of East Africa (Gloria Cherotich, Tabitha Sinde, Colleta Koki, and Shakirah Mukandekezi) won second place. Bienfait Badibanga finished third for his rendition of “Norwich Forever” in five languages besides English (Swahili, French, Spanish, Kibembe, Portuguese).
Freshman Helene Bounsana of Burlington received the inaugural Norwich Polyglot Award.
"I speak French, Kongo, Kituba, Lingala, Mbochi from Brazzaville, Congo; Bete and Baoule from Cote-D'Ivoire in West Africa; and Zoulou from South Africa,” she said. “From school, because French education asked for three foreign languages as a requirement from high school to university, I learned a little Spanish, Italian, and English.”
As a global leadership institution, language and culture are the bedrock of internationalism. These events celebrated the breadth of the linguistic, international, and intercultural knowledge on Norwich’s campus.