Global Language and Culture Center: SUA’s New Hub for Immersive Learning

October 24, 2023
Tagged as:
A large group of students sit together in the Global Language and Culture Center

Though the Global Language and Culture Center has been open only a few weeks, it’s already Lea Hyzova’s favorite place on campus to study French.

“It is very comfy, and definitely enriches my studies because it’s a fun place to learn,” said Hyzova ’27. “I pay more attention than when sitting behind the desk in class.”

Hearing positive reviews from students is highly gratifying for Sandrine Siméon, associate professor of French language and culture and director of the Language and Culture program.

“I’m very happy with the result and proud to have played a key role for our faculty and students to experience this space,” said Prof. Siméon, who described the center as a “cultural nexus” that will advance SUA’s strong commitment to broadening students’ perspectives through encounters with diverse languages and cultures.

The center, which opened with a well-attended gathering on Sept. 20, aims to foster students’ open-mindedness and sensitivity to the cultures they are studying and experiencing on campus while furthering their appreciation of the richness of languages, literatures, and associated arts.

A dedicated space for students and faculty, the center offers comprehensive resources and opportunities for foreign language instruction, including tutoring sessions and access to books, magazines, games, and films. On a recent Friday evening, Prof. Siméon screened a French film for a group of her students.

“Most SUA students are excited to learn the language that they will be using when they study abroad, and are very eager to be prepared,” she said. “But in their explorations of other cultures they can get frustrated expressing their ideas within the constraints of a language that’s new to them. The GLCC will aid them by offering new and different opportunities, as well as tutoring, to develop their language skills while broadening their knowledge about the country and culture they will be visiting.”

Back in 2018, Prof. Siméon had visited a similar center at Pomona College with then-director of SUA’s Language and Culture program Osamu Ishiyama, Vice President for Sponsored Research and External Academic Relations and Professor of Physics and Astronomy Bryan Penprase, and Xiaoxing Liu, now emeritus professor. Plans to open such a space on the SUA campus were halted because of the pandemic, but after Prof. Siméon became director of the Language and Culture program in fall 2021 she dove into the task of bringing the project to reality. Prof. Siméon collaborated with the architect and designers on the construction materials and furniture, and curated linguistic resources for students.

Students said the effort is already paying off. Mareva Dijoux ’26, a native of France who is studying Spanish and planning to study abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica, has been to the center several times for tutoring sessions and plans to use it regularly. As a student from Japan, Sakiko Yoshimura ’26 said she was particularly impressed by the rich assortment of books, traditional toys such as kendama and spinning tops, and artifacts that allowed her to connect with her homeland. “The center’s inclusivity and welcoming atmosphere were equally noteworthy, making it an inviting space for individuals from diverse backgrounds and language proficiencies,” Yoshimura said.

Kevin Afful ’26 of Ghana, who is also studying French and was among those attending the center’s opening event, agreed that the space will enrich their studies. “The place is so cool,” Afful said, and “equipped with so many fascinating things that will push me more to go for tutoring. It has snacks, too, so I can pass by to grab some when hungry and have a conversation with my professors and tutors.”