The Modern Languages Department (MLD) hosts a variety of events, activities, and resources aimed at enriching students’ learning experience.
The MLD Colloquium
Founded in 1995, the MLD Colloquium has a long history in bringing renowned intellectuals, writers, and artists to BMCC to present on a wide variety of topics, including identity and racism; Afro-Caribbean cultures; the impact of Italian, Hispanic, and Asian cultures in New York City; transatlantic connections between Spain and New York; world cuisines and fashion; the immigration experience; and global cities, among others. Open to all students and faculty at BMCC, the Colloquium has recently focused on screening contemporary films from all corners of the world.
MLD faculty regularly enrich students’ learning experience by inviting writers, film-makers, and artists from all over the world as guest speakers in their classes. Most recently, these speakers have included MacArthur “genius” awardee Cristina Rivera Garza, Basque novelist Luisa Etxenike, Dominican poet Yrene Santos, and Cuban writers Ana Lydia Vega, Sonia Rivera Valdés, and Nancy Morejón, among many others.
Talks have addressed topics as varied as the Haitian Revolution, Taino cultures, plagues and passion in the early modern French novel, Surrealism, Puerto Rican Haiku poetry, the Spanish Civil War, Afro-diasporic dance, Latinx music in the U.S., Mexican Lucha Libre (professional wrestling) and Chinese calligraphy, musical instruments, medicine, and martial arts.
Faculty have organized visits to the United Nations, Ellis Island, New Paltz, museums, and other cultural institutions. Other events have focused on students’ careers, including how to prepare for the United Nations’ language test in Chinese. Faculty also make use of BMCC’s film databases, Swank and Kanopy, which give free access to hundreds of films in foreign languages.
The MLD Student Symposium
Founded in 2016, the Student Symposium showcases presentations by Modern Languages majors on a particular topic related to the cultural diversity of their languages of study. Themes explored so far have included the role of reading and other artistic expressions in our lives, the connection between language and knowledge, and Our Roots, Our Traditions.
Every Friday afternoon during the summer of 2020, and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Professors Paquita Suárez Coalla and Ainoa Íñigo, who are also creative writers, held a virtual Tertulia Literaria, inviting students to discuss literary texts, share their own creative work, and give each other constructive feedback. Tertulias were both impressive and inspirational for everyone, offering a space in which to cope with the emotional impact of the pandemic. Tertulias Literarias will resume in the Spring 2021.
Starting in the Fall of 2020, our Micro-Story Contest invites students to submit 100-word stories in any of the languages taught in the Department: Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Arabic and American Sign Language. Awards are given separately for each of these languages.
Students meet during club hours and organize off-campus events. They can participate as regular members or serve as an officer (President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary) and gain credit in the co-curricular transcript. Serving in any of these capacities shows community engagement, teamwork skills, leadership, and global literacy.
The Arab Students Association’s mission is to bring together students interested in the Arab world on campus. To become an officer or member, contact Club Advisor, Senior Lab Technician, Mohamed Sofaini, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chinese Culture Club’s mission is to promote the awareness of Chinese culture and language on campus. To become an officer or member, contact Club Advisor, Professor Ling Luo at email@example.com
Members of the French-Speaking World Club help each other practice French as they review grammar and vocabulary, watch movies in French. They also organize and attend off-campus French-related cultural events. The club sponsors the magazine Échos du Tout-Monde, which consists of short texts written by students in French about different French-speaking countries. To become an officer or member, contact Club Advisor, Senior Lab Technician Adela George, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BMCC-sponsored African Heritage Month (February), Asian Heritage Month (April), Italian Heritage Month (October), and Hispanic Heritage Month (November) celebrated throughout the campus offer great opportunities for students to get exposure to these vibrant cultures. The Modern Languages Department participates through the collaboration of its faculty and/or the invitation of guest speakers.