Students bring Far East to UW campus

From The Badger Herald

by Peter Sielski, The Badger Herald

A large audience was treated to an array of cultural skits and dances Tuesday night as part of a Languages and Cultures of Asia Department program to educate students about a lesser-known part of the world.

The program — called “LCA Cultural Night” and held at Union South — included performances from languages such as Hmong, Filipino and Urdu. Students studying those languages created the program to help further their knowledge.

“It is to showcase the proficiency of the students with the target languages,” LCA Graduate Student Coordinator Cynthia Koerber said. “Students can use the languages they learned, and they do it in terms of the skit, songs and dancing.”

A large part of the program was also to encourage students and motivate them to get a deeper understanding of their language beyond the classroom.

“When you can show what you can actually perform, it can give you more encouragement and a rewarding feeling that you want to push yourself further,” said Erlin Banard, who coordinated the event.

According to Koerber, the event was created not only to help students who are currently enrolled in the LCA program, but also to grab the attention of students who may be potentially interested in learning a language the department offers.

Koerber stressed the importance of learning these languages in what is now a “smaller world.”

“Too often we only hear about the countries in Europe who have the political and economic power,” Koerber said. “We don’t often hear about the other nations that are maybe not on the same level but are aspiring to be.”

Koerber said students might get more out of learning the language and culture of these Asian countries than the traditional romance languages.

The event showcased some of the difficult languages some students chose to undertake.

“I was really impressed, because these are not languages that are easy to learn,” UW junior Becky Chudy said. “It brings to our campus those [cultures] we are not able to see on a daily basis.”

According to Barnard, this type of event is essential to the students’ learning as it goes beyond the “four walls” of a classroom where only vocabulary and syntax are important.

“It is more than just learning grammar and the structure of the language, it is learning how to speak it also,” Erlin said.

Although some of the productions were simple, the audience members expressed their appreciation of the students’ efforts.

“I really liked all the presentations — I thought they were informative,” said Asius Vangio, a UW graduate who attended the event. “There were some cheesy moments, but overall I think it went well and the audience liked it a lot.”

Although most of the students who performed did so as a requirement for one of their classes, most of the students found that they enjoyed creating their skits anyway.

“This was a requirement for my class, and it is a good thing,” said Kou Xiong, a freshman studying Thai. “This is because it makes me learn about the culture and about other cultures, so it is pretty exciting.”