Just as visionaries created Concordia College, so to did visionaries create a foreign language instruction program now known as Concordia Language Villages (CLV). Dr. Gerhard Haukebo, a faculty member in the education department from 1959 to 1966, was the brainchild behind this program. He envisioned a program implemented through immersion to help youngsters learn not only the foreign language itself but also the culture.
During the summer of 1961,
The 1960s was a significant decade in the development of the CLV. Numerous languages were added to the program’s offerings including French, Norwegian, Spanish, and Russian. To this point, all of the different camps were operated from leased facilities that were converted into villages reflective of the language being taught. In the mid-1960s, 800 acres on
Noteworthy developments also occurred in the 1970s. First, Odell Bjerkness assumed the directorship for the program in 1971. Under his leadership, two more permanent sites were built on the Turtle River Lake property – Waldsee (German Village) in 1978 and Lac du Bois (French village) in 1988. The language offerings similarly grew to include Nordic and Asian languages as follows: Swedish (1975), Finnish (1978), Danish (1982), Chinese (1984), and Japanese (1988). Since many of these villages lacked permanent facilities, camps and resorts continued to be rented to offer these programs.
In 1989, Christine Schulze became executive director of Concordia Language Villages. In the past 20 years of her leadership, three more villages have been built on Turtle River Lake including Salolampi (Finnish Village), El Lago del Bosque (Spanish Village), and Lesnoe Ozero (Russian Village). Korean, Italian, Arabic, and Portuguese have been added to the language offerings. The
Just as the programming and facilities of CLV have grown, so has the participation. When Waldsee first opened in 1961, 72 participants attended. By the 1970s, enrollment in the CLV programs had grown to over 1,000; by the 1990s to nearly 5,000; and by the early 2000s to nearly 10,000. CLV has also expanded in the past four decades to include programs for families, adults, and teachers as well as credit-bearing programs for high school students both domestically and abroad. Concordia Language Villages are no longer just summer programs either with the advent of Village Weekends, formerly miniprograms, which allow for learning-intensive weekends throughout the year.
– Contributed by Lisa Sjoberg, former college archivist