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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

INTERNational Poetry Night Inspires Foreign Language Engagement, Learning

Joshua Repp

For many students, learning poetry can seem impossible. The rhythm, structure and diction in many poems can make English poetry seem like a foreign language. However, similar to learning a foreign language, a large part of understanding poetry comes simply from consistent effort.

On April 2, dozens of students attended the INTERNational Poetry Night hosted in the W.M. Keck Center for Language Learning. These students studied a poem in a foreign language to present to other attendees. The event was an opportunity for students to engage with the cultural aspects of learning a foreign language and practice their language speaking skills in a non-academic setting.

Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and Director of the Keck Center Cory Duclos organized the event with the help of many of Colgate University’s language interns.

“This is one of my favorite events every year,” Duclos said. “The poetry night always brings lots of people. It’s nice to see that people are excited about poetry. For me, the most important thing is that we are able to celebrate poetry in many languages, and people are able to share the languages that they are learning with others.”

Both Duclos and the interns noted that they saw a genuine passion from this year’s attendees. Chiara Grandin, the Italian language intern, was excited to help guide students in the direction of certain poems and then see them become enthusiastic about what they saw in the poetry.

“Most of them were literally saying that their language interns assigned their poems to them because they had no idea what to choose, and they found out that they related to their poems,” Grandin said. “This was inspiring for us to see that we kind of ignited a spark in them.”

The interns were initially unsure of how the student body would respond to a poetry night, since they had not heard many of their students express an interest in poetry. However, they were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

“It was risky because we didn’t know if the students were actually interested in poetry,” Grandin said. “But then we followed Cory’s lead, and it turned out that it was a great event and everybody was super happy. The students were motivated — they volunteered immediately, and they loved it.”

Colgate has abundant resources for learning languages that make students excited to learn and spend time immersing themselves in foreign language learning and culture. The interns play a major role in this, as they are smart, enthusiastic people who are excited to share their traditions, background and knowledge with Colgate students.

Sophomore French major Lucy Brewer has found her experience learning French at Colgate to have been enhanced by the role of the interns.

“I love chatting with the interns,” Brewer said. “They give me a more real sense of what it’s like living in places outside of the United States, and they have really shaped my experience of learning a language here.”

The interns are an extremely active part of the language department at Colgate, and they play a key role in making events like this one possible. Beyond preparing for the event and instructing the students on how to participate, the interns themselves are fully engaged in the activities that they have to offer. For example, Grandin read the Italian poem “La canzone dell’amore perduto” by Fabrizio De Andrè, which helped her feel more connected to her role in helping students learn and inspired her to continue remaining involved in language events at Colgate.

For any students who are interested in engaging with the language department but are not sure how to get involved, attending the interns’ events is a great place to start. These events are less intimidating than an academic setting, but they still provide a valuable way to engage with and learn about various languages and cultures.

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About the Contributor
Joshua Repp
Joshua Repp, Assistant Arts & Features Editor
Joshua Repp is a first-year from Toledo, OH with a potential concentration in political science and a potential minor in Chinese. He has previously served as a staff writer for the News, Arts & Features and Baker's Dozen sections. On campus, Joshua is a marketing coordinator for Colgate Portfolio, intern for the division of arts and humanities, and participates in intramural table tennis.

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