Faculty, Staff and Students Spend Immersive Weekend at Concordia Language Villages

Community celebration of diversity through languages and cultures

More than 30 students and seven faculty and staff from Chinese, French, German, and Spanish courses in the department of World Languages and Cultures (WLC) headed to Concordia Language Villages (CLV) for an immersive weekend experience Nov. 4-6. 

Leaving behind their everyday lives and going to camps in the woods of northern Minnesota, students were able to jump headfirst into using the languages they have been practicing in the classroom in a real-life setting and experience new ways of utilizing their skills.

At CLV, students were able to choose from a variety of activities throughout the weekend, from creating arts and crafts to sports and walking in nature, making food, and singing and dancing, all with the goal of emphasizing the importance of languages and cultures. While students were encouraged to practice the language they are studying at Concordia, they also had opportunities to experience other languages and cultures through group activities such as meal presentations, multilingual games, and even tours of different Language Village sites.

Throughout the weekend, students were able to practice and strengthen their language skills, but also to experience and celebrate diversity and different cultures. The retreat helped to create new friendships and connections throughout the department and to introduce students to the vibrant CLV community with its missions of cultural appreciation and sustainability.

One student remarked on how enjoyable it was to connect with others who had similar interests, from experiencing the “joy of culture to love of a specific language.” Another student expressed appreciation for the shared sense of community and the interactions between all the languages. Throughout the weekend, there were conversations about language learning techniques, motivation, and study and career opportunities.

The annual WLC/CLV retreat is part of the integrative learning plan for the World Languages and Cultures department. We want to help students “BREW” (Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World) by learning about different languages and cultures and celebrating diversity. Our department learning goals are aligned with college initiatives related to sustainability and justice. We toured the German BioHaus to learn about sustainable architecture and visited several other sites. We had the opportunity to live in a sustainable way in our interactions at CLV. Students were asked to reflect on and identify ways that we were being sustainable in our interactions.

Students in the advanced French class on translation and interpretation worked on their book translation projects, translating books donated by Centennial Elementary school in Fargo for TeacHaiti. The books and their French translations will be shipped to our partner school in Haiti, which was founded by Concordia alum Miquette Denie McMahon ’06. This is just one example of the ways that students were able to apply their language and culture skills to active and responsible engagement in the world. WLC students are making a difference in big and small ways every day. 

WLC would like to give special thanks to Dr. Kenneth Foster and his team in Community Engagement for making this trip possible. We would also like to recognize the Student Government Association (SGA) and its support of our annual retreat. It is perhaps the top request each year from our students; the impact on their learning is clear, and it’s done in an enjoyable way. It’s our favorite way to start the year: community celebration of diversity through languages and cultures. Without the support of these entities, students would not have been able to enjoy these unique experiences at CLV.

Written by

Emma Skuza, Administrative Assistant for World Languages and Cultures, and Graduate & Continuing Studies; and Dr. Gay Rawson, chair of World Languages and Cultures and professor of French