Jennifer Peña/Contributing Writer
Walking through the Graham Center on a regular weekday, you’ll probably catch traces of students carrying their cultures with them as they speak languages other than English. At Florida International University, we can expect this kind of diversity.
If you’re a Miami native like me, maybe you’re used to there being a Pollo Tropical in the area. Maybe you even expect it—after all, it’s no secret that FIU’s student body is mostly made up of Hispanic students. For students who aren’t locals, it might be harder to keep their cultures close—but it shouldn’t have to be.
As a transfer student from a university with a tiny Hispanic population, I see FIU as a hub with so much potential for cultural exchanges. FIU offers activities around campus – some of which are free – for students, regardless of their backgrounds, to embrace their own cultures and those of their fellow Panthers. These include the free conversation circles in English, Spanish and Mandarin at the Center for Excellence in Writing every week, where students who are fluent in a language meet with learners to practice their listening and speaking skills.
There was also FIU Language Day on Friday, Nov. 15, which provided a space for students to talk, sing, listen and enjoy the linguistic and cultural diversity of FIU’s student body. Since it’s annual, you’ll have another chance to attend if you missed it this year. The Department of Modern Languages hosts other events, like Japan Immersion Day on Monday, Dec. 16, and showcases events held by student culture groups on their website.
Activities aside, FIU offers courses (and tutoring at the Language Lab) in languages such as Arabic and Russian, among others. There are also clubs dedicated to celebrating different cultures such as the French culture club Le Cercle Français, which is open to students – including those who don’t speak French — and has hosted museum visits, French tutoring and more. If you’re looking for a way to embrace a culture and language, student organizations can be the way to go.
Whether your native language is English or not, there are opportunities to embrace your background – and your fellow students’ backgrounds – during your time at FIU. We’re all Panthers, but we have our own ways of communicating that make FIU the multilingual, multicultural, international university we know it to be.
The next time you walk through the Graham Center, carry your culture with you. You may find that you aren’t the only one doing so.
Featured photo from FIU Flickr.
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