Students of French, German and Spanish present at Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures

Elon hosted students and faculty from Elon and regional universities at its third annual Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Elon hosted students and faculty from Elon and regional universities at its third annual Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures on Saturday, Sept. 22.

<p>UNCG student Abigail Klima presenting in one of the afternoon panels.</p>
The conference was sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Cultures and organized by Patti Burns, lecturer of French. Several faculty members from the department moderated panels, taught workshops, and helped students think about ways to further their research in critical ways: Assistant Professor Pablo Celis-Castillo, Associate Professor Olivia Choplin, Associate Professor Mina Garcia Soormally, Associate Professor Sarah Glasco, Senior Lecturer Ketevan Kupatadze, Associate Professor Mayte de Lama, Instructor Kristin Lange, Assistant Professor Federico Pous, Associate Professor Elena Schoonmaker-Gates, and Associate Professor Donna Van Bodegraven.

During concurrent morning and afternoon panels, students presented research in French, German, and Spanish. Their research topics included analysis of a range of texts from literature and film to socially constructed places and architecture.

<p>Elon student Martina Racioppi '19 sharing her research at the poster session.</p>
During the poster session, students in a French senior seminar course at Elon presented their research in progress on topics such as performative feminism, the role of education in sub-Saharan Africa, a feminist reading of Kim Thúy’s works, and women’s societal roles in Marie NDiaye’s “Hilda.”

During lunch, Professor Brooke Kreitinger of UNCG gave an engaging plenary lecture on German documentaries in her talk titled “Seeing the Other, Being the Other: Familiar, Foreign Encounters in Recent Refugee Documentary Films.”

In the afternoon, Celis-Castillo, Choplin and Lange led interactive workshops in all three languages on how to write a CV and cover letter for various cultures or how to find funding for international experiences such as internships or study abroad.

The final conference events were three concurrent Professionalization Panels during which six Elon alumni — Margaret Liston ’16 and Madeline Monaco ’15 (French), Sam Geha ’18 and Madeline Wetterhall ’18 (German), and Jacqueline Spencer ’17 and Evan Seder ’18 (Spanish) — talked about their own personal and professional journeys related to engagement with foreign languages and cultures.

While the alumni have used their languages professionally, they reminded students that deep knowledge of another language and culture is always viewed positively by potential employers (whether or not the language is a prerequisite for the position) because it demonstrates open-mindedness, an ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and a willingness to engage with difference.

World Languages and Cultures faculty members hope that the conference will become a permanent fixture at Elon that will expand to include panels in additional languages in the future.

Seeing and hearing advanced students present their research early in their college careers can be a true motivator. Several attendees commented that the most valuable part of the conference was connecting with like-minded students and sharing research and passions. For all attendees, speaking with Elon alumni about their experiences with careers, internships and life abroad was invaluable.