By Jillian Waterhouse, Staff Writer—
While students return for the Spring 2021 semester, campus organizations are implementing creative schemes to facilitate community togetherness at a distance, and Virtual Language Hour is chief among them.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, students must find alternative ways to connect with one another safely. Exemplary of this effort is the recurring Virtual Language Hour event hosted by the Center for Global Education.
Though International Tea Time, another recurring event hosted by the Center for Global Education, has been postponed for the time being due to the face-to-face nature of the event, students remain determined to connect, across screen and across cultures. Thus, Virtual Language Hour was developed by the Center for Global Education in fall of 2020 with efforts to maintain a bridge between domestic and international students during the pandemic. During the events, held regularly on Zoom, an international student is given a spotlight to share a language of their home country while interacting with domestic students through trivia games and lessons.
Jill Williams-Alger, a faculty member at the UTC English as a Second Language Institute, expanded on the importance of using language as a tool to create connections between students.
Williams-Alger explained that the event is intended to use language as a tool to foster friendship between students, while aiding potential culture shock that international students could encounter. Additionally, domestic students who have not had the opportunity to travel abroad may use the event to experience cultural exchange with their peers. While calming nerves and exploring language in a safe environment, students are able to learn phrases and greetings in a variety of languages that are not typically accessible, such as Vietnamese, Czech, and Portuguese.
Though Virtual Language Hour was created with the intention of keeping students connected and engaged in a COVID-safe environment, Williams-Alger confirmed that the event will continue after the pandemic has ended. When possible, the Center for Global Education plans to host International Tea Time and Language Hour in person, merging the events together.
Interested students can follow @UTCGlobal on social media to explore what the Center for Global Education has to offer, as well as to keep up with their schedule of events.