Although seldom students on McDaniel students may know about language houses on campus, the opportunity to partake in one of these experiences is well worth it. A few of the language houses that McDaniel has are the Spanish, French, and German house and living in one of them will change not only your campus experience, but also it will change your perspective of other cultures, including your own. Additionally, for those unable to study abroad but wishing to experience what it’s like to be in an environment where another language is spoken this is the place for you.
We live in a world that is so vastly separated from the world that is around us: the United States. Little do many of us realize how, and on what scale we are effected by the language we speak, the media that surrounds us, and the place in which we live. Our thoughts and ways of communication, and how we interact with one another is inevitably shaped by the culture in which we grow up, whether we realize it or not.
We are influenced by everything around us, from music to food and drink, the programs on television, the shops and stores that help our community and economy flourish, the sports teams we root for, down to the simple mannerisms and ways of addressing our peers. Not only does this strengthen the bond that we have with other citizens but it also entraps us in our ever-growing ethnocentric culture.
In my view, our ethnocentric culture is problematic, especially in a society where the minority is rapidly growing and in the near future we will be forced to merge the majority culture with the dominant minority culture, which is Latinos. The Latino population is a subculture that has already begun to spread out across our nation. Although some think of this as a bad thing, in fact, it is something positive, as it is teaching us to better adapt to and accept our constantly changing surroundings.
For one to submerge oneself in another culture brings one into a whole new perspective on the world. From having been abroad in Spain, as well as currently living in the Spanish house now, I firmly believe that every student should try to experience a foreign culture in one way or another. Even doing something minor, such as living the Spanish house, will have an effect on an individual.
Embarking on a pathway to becoming more culturally diversified is something you owe to yourself and to the global community of the world in which we live. Mark Twain once said, “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” This is an issue on which I have reflected a great deal and I have come to conclude that my culturally diverse perspectives and reflections were formed through my study abroad experience as well as living in the Spanish house.
Living in the Spanish has some requirements in order to make its residents practice their Spanish and earn credit. One of the conditions for living in the Spanish house is that its students are acquired to attend weekly “tertulias” which are our weekly meetings where we gather together twice a week and partake in an activity relating to Spanish.
Our director, Renata, a 26 year old woman from Cordoba, Argentina; puts together games where we play Spanish card games, read Spanish comics, learn colloquialisms, listen to music, watch Spanish movies, or cook a cultural dish from a Latin American country. We speak only Spanish while doing these activities. Additionally, we are always required to speak Spanish to one another in the house common areas.
It is not just the Argentinean director or the frequently playing Spanish music that makes the house culturally diverse from other living situations on campus. It is also the fact that constantly there are international students over at the house, some of who come from France, Germany, and Portugal.
It is through the experiences that we’ve had with our international students that we come to learn about other cultures. Although we may not be in another country, the house embodies cultural diversity, thoughts and ideas are shared about commonalities and differences of life in another country, and in the United States such a cultural reflection is enlightening.
The most important thing about the language house experience is what you take away from it; and being exposed to new foods, music, ideas; language helps one to gain is a newfound respect for other cultures. It is fundamental that we open up our hearts and minds to the world around us, which will enable us to break down the negatives such as the pre-conceived stereotypes we might have about of other people in other cultures. It frees us of our narrow mindedness and into experiencing new traditions that before we might have been unwilling to accept before. By being more open minded to other cultures and accepting of others, we will change the world into a more peaceful place a little bit at a time.