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SMC hosts foreign language celebration

Rebecca O'Neil | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

 Saint Mary’s students shared in the native languages of six women from five different countries Monday through “Writing Across the World,” an event sponsored by the Saint Mary’s English Language School.

At the event, which also marked the beginning of International Week, the women translated and transcribed students’ names into their native languages.

She designed the event to promote dialogue – in English or otherwise –  between students, Terra Cowham, assistant director for International Student Scholar Services at the English Language School, said.

 “During International Week, we want to highlight all the diversity in the international students on our campus,” Cowham said. “We thought it’d be really awesome if they wrote some themes or sayings while sharing their native language with us.”

 “This event begins a cultural festival,” Ethiopian student Neima Mohammed said.

Mohammed’s ability to speak English fluently is a result of five months of language classes from Saint Mary’s, she said. The Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership offers a rigorous program in the English Language School to non-native speakers, and Cowham said the four-week program is open to anyone.

“We have a program for anyone, [from] adult women [to] students just out of high school, if they want to come and learn English they come here, live on campus and they take classes that are non-degree but focused on learning the English language,” she said.

Cowham said many women come for additional practice or instruction before they enter another college.

“I am extremely passionate about making students global citizens and connecting the world every day,” Cowham said. “I want to help all of campus see what wonderful resources we have, all the wonderful students that come here from across the world.”

Noemy Siles-Alvarado, a Costa Rican student, said she feels the strong sense of community that Cowham has tried to foster for international students at Saint Mary’s.

“The professors are really, really good. All the girls are friendly,” she said. “I have enjoyed it, it feels like family.”

Siles-Alvarado said she found her role at the writing event amusing.

“It’s interesting for me because I’m from Costa Rica. It’s not that amazing and for most people it’s the same name in English as it is in Spanish,” she said. “For the other girls, I think it’s really cool because they can write in their own language.”

Siles-Alvarado said she chose to attend the English Language School to improve her grammar before she begins pursuing a pre-medicine degree at Goshen College.

Maha Alshahrani, a student from Saudi Arabia, said she chose Saint Mary’s to study among pupils of her own gender and aspires to receive a Master’s degree from Notre Dame.

Mayumi Oda and Misa Inaba are both studying abroad from the same college in Japan, which Inaba said was “kind of a sister school to Saint Mary’s.” This semester they live with two American roommates in Le Mans Hall.

Oda said as much as they miss home now, when they leave they will miss Saint Mary’s as well.

“It’s beautiful to communicate with another country’s people,” Oda said.

Contact Rebecca O’Neil at roneil01@saintmarys.edu