Earlier this month the University of Missouri–St. Louis welcomed over 300 students from seven high schools to the third annual celebration of World Languages Day, hosted by the Department of Language and Cultural Studies.
The event, which was created to give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in cultural languages and promote linguistic diversity, featured interactive experiences including a scavenger hunt, language exercises, presentations and even three competitions. Over 60 UMSL students volunteered to help with the event.
The students were from Francis Howell Central, Holt, Lafayette, Liberty, Marquette, McCluer North and Windsor high schools. They arrived with a variety of different language skill levels. That allowed them to utilize and practice their language skills with students at different stages of learning.
Sandra Trapani, a teaching professor of French and chair of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, wanted to provide students a chance to celebrate language and a college experience.
“It was really just an opportunity for them to be able to come on campus, have some fun, show off their language skills and be able to showcase the campus,” Trapani said.
Junior Mitchell Luker, who is in his third year of studying French at Liberty High School in Wentzville, Missouri, enjoyed meeting others his age who were also interested in other languages. He chose to study French because of his love of European history.
His classmate Sara Reth, who is also studying French and is co-president of her school’s French club, participated in the event because she wanted to get more ideas on how to explore French in her student organization and also to tour UMSL.
“I like the campus,” Reth said. “It’s really nice. This was on my list of schools. It’s cool to see how many people get involved with all this stuff.”
The gathering definitely served as a recruiting tool as several students put UMSL on their radar after seeing the campus.
William Manning, a senior at Holt High School, has been studying Spanish formally for four years but has been interested in the language since he was 7 years old. He not only enjoyed World Languages Day but also discovered that UMSL has become a potential college of choice.
Manning also noticed how UMSL could help him fulfill his aspiration to become fluent in Spanish.
“I saw just how many options there are regarding language,” he said. “That’s a really big thing for me. One of the student speakers said she wasn’t great at her language class when coming over to college, but she opened up that door and tried to explore it. Now she’s top of her class. I feel that way about my Spanish too. I haven’t had that click yet, but if I were to get that same opportunity, then maybe UMSL could be the fitting piece.”