Modern Language Festival meets success

Chiaki Troutman

More than 100 people, including both students and faculty, attended the festivities Nov. 3 in the World Languages and Cultures Center, said Coordinator Chiaki Troutman.

“It aspired to raise awareness of languages and cultures,” Troutman said, referring to the third annual Modern Languages Festival.

“And it was a success from start to finish.”

The festival commenced with Professor Abra Figueroa hosting a poetry-reading session filled with presentations in various languages. International students read their favorite poems from their native literature, then provided English translations.


There was poetry in Nepali, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, French and English. Figueroa is the ESL Academic Bridge Program coordinator and a professor of modern languages.

There were over 40 attendees, including about 10 presenters.

“Although I enjoyed it all very much, this was my favorite part,” Troutman said referring to the poetry-reading.

“Everyone was so engaging, and it was wonderful. It was extra successful and especially educational.”

At noon the sound of Aventura’s music provided the rhythms for dancing. Twirling and dance steps filled the room as Keven Mendoza taught the Bachata, a Dominican dance. Mendoza is a native of Mexico, was once a dance instructor, and now serves as a work-study student assistant in the WLCC.

His interactive session introduced students to the basic steps. It began with a demonstrative tutorial and a short lecture about its history, and then the dancing embarked.

More than 50 people came to learn the dance, some of whom had to remain outside because the room was full.

“It was a really fun experience,” said Misty Turner, a cyber security major. “I love dancing, and he [Mendoza] was a great instructor.”

Afterwards, Thabet Swaiss and Amin Zadeh spoke about the rising importance of the Arabic language and the potential influence it could have on employment in the future. They also discussed the cultural aspects of learning Arabic.

“Along with Spanish and Chinese, Arabic’s importance is vastly increasing,” Swaiss said.

“Almost 20 percent of the world population speaks it.”

Swaiss is a native Jordanian who has served as an Arabic professor. He is a former broadcast reporter who once worked for Jordan Television Corporation in Amman, Jordan.

Zadeh, a native Iranian, has a minor in Arabic and has studied it for five years at the University of Oklahoma.

Their presentation was followed by a question-and-answer discussion session. There were over 15 attendees, including some business communications students, health professionals, and modern language faculty.

In the final session of the festival, energy and laughter filled the room as 25 participants practiced greeting one another in Japanese.

Japanese language instructor Keiko Shafer led a hands-on workshop filled with Japanese cultural practices and sayings.

She taught students how to write their names in Katakana, a Japanese character system, using sumi-ink. She also offered training in using chopsticks.

Alyssa Orton, a psychology major with a minor in Japanese, is one of Shafer’s students. Orton said she especially likes Japanese because of its anime.

The festival was sponsored by the WLCC as part of the Arts and Humanities division and by Student Life.

Snacks and refreshments were provided for participants throughout the festival.

For more information, call the WLCC at 405-682-1611 ext. 7560, email them at, and check out their website at and their Facebook page at

To contact Nadia Enchassi,

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