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The Antelope

The Antelope

Conservation tables break cultural barriers

issue 1 spring


In preserving diversity at UNK, students are invited to break the cultural barricade by attending the language tables in the Calvin T. Ryan Learning Commons. 

At the Language Tables, students face the challenge of improving their language skills — including but not limited to French, Japanese, Spanish and German — while also getting acquainted with others from various backgrounds.

“In here, it doesn’t really matter if you are a 100 or 400 level student, the idea is to try to help each other develop,” said Carlos Ortega, a recent hire as a Spanish language table leader. 

Ortega, alongside Maria Garcia, a first semester language table leader, emphasized the importance of an environment that helps students grow in their foreign language. While using an international style of learning, their one rule is that students use as much Spanish as possible upon entering the table. Learning is accomplished through games and activities such as hangman, kahoot, etc. While attending the first table of the semester, students were required to draw a cultural map that described themselves. They had to then go around the room and explain their map while only using Spanish. Everyone is urged to be themselves while practicing in an environment that escapes the pressure of a classroom setting. 

The coordinator of the language tables offered her thoughts on the benefits of attending the  weekly activity.

“I also think it’s a good way for students to connect with each other, so what we see is a lot of the same students come back week after week to participate in the tables,” said Emily Bahr, the organizer for each table.

Learning a new language is a difficult form of study for many students, and the tables provide them the chance to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills alongside others. Each student is challenged to progress in their foreign language choice. Students that attend often share the same struggles and progression as their fellow peers. Whether it is a 400 level student or one with no previous experience, everyone is invited to join. 

As a second semester freshman, Garcia shared her thoughts on the benefits of attending.

“I think it was really special for me to figure out that there was a place on campus that I could actually come and talk my language,” Garcia said.

Language tables meet weekly at 6 p.m. starting with French on Tuesday, Japanese on Wednesday, followed by Spanish and German on Thursday.

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