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World Language Week encourages students to explore languages, cultures

Students gather for a presentation, Study Abroad Information Session, during World Language Week. Photo by Lucas Ratliff / Antelope Staff

The Languages Department of the Nebraska Department of Education organizes a World Language Week once a year at UNK. This week has at least one event per day celebrating or educating about the languages of the world.  

Christopher Jacobs, a UNK language professor, helped hold the event. He said that he wanted to see people during World Language Week who haven’t yet experienced many cultures outside of their own.

“The point of World Languages Week is to expose people in the campus community and surrounding communities to different languages and cultures,” Jacobs said.  “And to show them both that there are more kinds of people than they might imagine in Nebraska and also that there is a wide world beyond rural Nebraska.”

The events of World Language Week included an international game night, two food-based events, many conversation tables and an informational meeting for students hoping to study abroad.

“Here at UNK we’ve decided to do our own version of World Languages Week for the students, faculty, staff and local community members,” Jacobs said. 

Jacobs said that World Language Week provides a chance for students to expand their knowledge of other cultures. It’s also a place to start for students who hope to study abroad.  

“It’s an opportunity for our students to take their learning outside the classroom,” Jacobs said. “It’s also an opportunity to, as you say, simply celebrate world cultures and languages. And yes, of course, it’s also an outreach opportunity.”  

Jacobs said that food events were his favorite since food is the best way to experience a culture and they have a lot of appeal to outside people.  

“Of course, we’re teaching about world cultures and world languages through their food and drink,” Jacobs said. “Food and drink, especially when it’s free, is what gets people in the door. But then when they see the food and taste the food, and the same for the drinks, they want to learn something about the food or drinks and the places that it comes from.”  

Ruger Botts, sophomore business administration major, went to the meeting for studying abroad, five-minute language lesson tables and the “Languages are Sweet” event.  

“I plan on studying abroad this summer in France, so it’s really beneficial and the tables were really nice,” Botts said. “I love different languages.”

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