February 16-23 | Wesleyan University | Fisk Hall 

The Fries Center for Global Studies is thrilled to be hosting the second annual Power of Language Week! POL is a week of events in honor of the Bengali Language Movement, International Mother Language Day (also known as Ekushey February, which is celebrated annually on February 21st). Power of Language Week seeks to highlight the environment of multilingualism on campus by bringing together speakers and learners of all languages at Wesleyan and hosting events that feature the following themes:

  • Self-determination to preserve one’s mother tongue and one’s individual and collective multilingual identity 
  • Celebrate and foster equity, belonging, and diversity in language practice at Wesleyan 

We strive to make Power of Language Week an opportunity to embrace all multilingual identities on campus through the exploration of our language community’s educational, personal, and cultural connections to language.  

We welcome you to take part in this initiative! Held on Friday, February 16th to Friday, February 23rd, 2024, join us in celebrating Power of Language Week by showing us what language means to YOU!

We welcome anyone interested in submitting event proposals to fill out the event submission form by February 5th! For any questions, please contact Thais García Bagué at tgarcia@wesleyan.edu.


 Full Events Schedule

  • Thursday, February 15
    • The Elephant is Very Like Staged Reading 7:30-9:30 PM, Theater Department Studio

    When we speak, whose language are we speaking? What language can we call our own? Written by Ankita Raturi, the one-act play The Elephant Is Very Like tells the story of a woman who cannot say any words that have not been spoken to her, and a man who tries and fails and tries again to help her. Together, they reach for multilingual poetry, prose, and the South Asian dance forms of kathak and bharatanatyam in their pursuit of a language of her own. Staged over a week of intensive rehearsals, The Elephant Is Very Like will be brought to life by Wesleyan students in a reading directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar and produced by Malaika Fernandes ’23, in consultation with Assistant Professor of Theater Maria-Christina Oliveras and Professor of Dance, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Global South Asian Studies Hari Krishnan.

  • Friday, February 16
    • A School Amidst the Wilderness: Documentary Screening, 5-7 PM, Fisk 201 RSVP on WesNest

    This documentary portrays the challenges faced by Syrian children and their families, who have become refugees and are working as farmers in Turkey in the aftermath of the Syrian revolution, as they strive to continue their education. They establish an improvised school in the desert and rely on volunteer teachers to ensure that the children do not lose touch with their identity and culture, particularly after attending Turkish schools. Their struggle includes preserving their mother tongue, the Arabic language. Directed and filmed by: Hassan Almohammed ( 2019-2021)
  • Saturday, February 17
    • It's Carnival Time! Celebrate the Diversity of Brazil with Samba, Portuguese, and Snacks! 2-3:30 PM, Schonberg Dance Studio, 241 Pine St RSVP on WesNest

    Come celebrate the diversity of Brazil and the many ways Cardinals can learn about and visit this magnificent country!
  • Monday, February 19
    • Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Tips and Tricks on Working with Multilingual Learners, 12-1 PM, Education Studies House, 1st Floor RSVP on WesNest

    During this event, WELLP will discuss the challenges multilingual learners face in the United States. They will also explore the various opportunities Wesleyan offers to support multilingual learners and help them overcome these challenges. There will be a particular focus on tutoring strategies, especially those that allow multilingual learners to improve their English proficiency while maintaining their primary language proficiency. Lunch will be served from Shah's Halal in Middletown.

    • Multilingual Storytelling & Open Mic, 7-8:30 PM, Resource Center 

    What language do you dream in? What language do you say “I love you” in? Does it carry a different weight than English? Come to the launching event for Emulsify, the new multilingual publication on campus, and share stories, poems, and songs about living among multiple languages at our open mic event. Snacks and milk tea provided!

  • Tuesday, February 20
    • Journey Through Libyan Culture: Unveiling Traditions and Treasures, 12-1 PM, Shanklin 107 RSVP on WesNest

    At this presentation, Arabic FLTA Moataz Derdira will be talking about the Libyan culture such as history, clothes, way of life, while showing photos and videos of different places around Libya. There will be an escape room section where students will have to solve some puzzles through Google Forms. Lunch will be provided.

    • Teaching Opportunities in Spanish Speaking Countries, 12-1 PM, Fisk 208 RSVP on WesNest

    An opportunity to chat with Wesleyan Alumni who have or are currently teaching english in a spanish speaking country. Learn about their program, application process, and their experience teaching abroad.

    • Bubble Tea with International Students, 4-5:30 PM, Woodhead Lounge 

    Come join members of ISAB and the international student community for bubble tea and other sweet treats to engage with this year's Power of Language Week! Bring any questions and concerns you might have as an international student at Wesleyan. This will be a great space to meet new people and discuss openly about our experiences on campus together!

    • Third Culture Kid: Reimagining the International Self, 4:30-6 PM, Romance Language Lounge RSVP on WesNest

    What is a third culture kid, or TCK? What kinds of backgrounds make up this unique group of people? One way to define third culture kids is as those who grew up in a country neither their own nor their parents' — who experience geographic and cultural transience — but there's much more depth and multiplicity to the TCK experience. We invite TCKs as well as the curious to attend our panel of both young and adult TCKs and participate in a creative discussion afterwards. We'll try to create our own working definition of what it means to be a third culture kid, and we hope you'll come and ask questions about what it means to move around in this globalized world.

    • Multilingual Poetry Workshop, 6 PM - 7:30 PM, Fisk 201
  • Wednesday, February 21
    Wear black and white to celebrate International Mother Language Day!

    • Language of the Environment, 11 AM - 1 PM, Usdan 1st Floor 

    Join the student members of Wesleyan’s Sustainability Strategic Plan (SSP) committee on Wednesday, February 21st from 11am-1pm in Usdan (1st floor) to learn more about language commonly used when talking about the environment. Explore how language shapes our understanding of environmental issues and influences our actions towards sustainability. Discover the power of words—in English and other languages–in promoting environmental awareness and fostering positive change within our community and beyond. Don't miss this opportunity to deepen your knowledge and broaden your perspective on the critical role language plays in environmental discourse! This Power of Language Week event is sponsored by the Sustainability Office and the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA).

    • Don't gift a clock or you will DIE: Superstitions in Mongolia and Ukraine, 1-2 PM, Fisk 201 

    A fun activity of learning about Ukrainian and Mongolian superstitions, tongue twisters, idioms, etc. Talk about culture and similarities in linguistics because of the common heritage. Play some childhood Ukrainian and Mongolian games, gartic phone; get some authentic snacks. 

    • Voices from Around the World: Kirundi, Amharic and Bulgarian, 5-6 PM, Fisk 209 RSVP on WesNest

    Discover the beauty of Burundi, Ethiopia and Bulgaria with our speakers Holiness Igiraneza, Tihitina Gebeyehu and Vik Georgieva. Join us for insights into their cultures, traditions, and native languages. Don't miss this unique opportunity to hear their stories from around the world – see you there! For more information about the speakers, please visit the Wesleyan International Speakers Program (WISP) website This event was made possible by the support and sponsorship of OISA. Snacks and refreshments provided!

    Join the Foreign Language Teaching Assistants and FCGS staff in honoring International Mother Language Day and the Bengali Language Movement with some international games! Test your fine motor skills, strategy and language skills while enjoying snacks from all over the world!

  • Thursday, February 22
    • ASL Introductory Workshop, 12-1:00 PM, Fishbowl (Exley 189) 

    Come learn the basics of American Sign Language in a relaxing, low stress environment. Course assistants Kai Tripician and Vivian Redmond, along with several of their student volunteers, will teach you to say your name and introduce yourself to a Deaf person, in addition to a select handful of important greeting words and phrases!

    • Linguicide: The Status of Our 7000 Languages, 1:30-2 PM, Fisk 210 RSVP on WesNest

    The presenter will explain the concept of linguicide and the status of the present 7000 languages. This lecture will emphasize the importance of the mother tongue and how our children are losing it. Staff, faculty, and students are welcome to attend! 

    • Multilingual Letter Writing, 1:30-3 PM, Usdan 136

    Reconnect with an old friend, send an update to your parents, or write a note for your teacher! Drop by to write a letter (or two) and we'll mail it for you!

    • Inclusive Language: Necessities of Identity and Positionality, 4:30-5:30 PM, Fisk 201

    The expansion of variants of inclusive language is a reality, and yet a source of constant debate at all levels. Clearly, the academic sphere is where forms of inclusive language are most obviously used. What about everywhere else? How are native speakers dealing with the pressures of this change? What are our dilemmas and challenges? The session will start with a round table with some native speakers of different languages, and then the floor will be open to audience questions and sharing-in.

    After a brief explanation regarding the Sanremo Festival and this Italian tradition, participants are free to choose songs from a list of songs proposed and considered by Italian critics to be the most beautiful that participated in Sanremo from the first edition to the 2024 edition. The English translation of the Italian lyrics will also be provided. If the participants want, they will be able to share their thoughts on the song they listened to, on the lyrics, on the music or simply on the power of words, even if they don't know the words or the language. The purpose of the event is to demonstrate how words, even from an unknown language, can communicate a message (whatever it is).

    • Panel Discussion on "The Role of Languages in Shaping Cultural Identity", 5:30-7 PM, Fisk 208

    The Panel Discussion is aimed  to foster an atmosphere at Wesleyan University where individuals can appreciate linguistic diversity, recognize its significance in preserving cultural identities, and promote the idea of mutual learning and understanding across various cultures.

    • ASL Game Night, 7-9 PM, Fisk 201 

    Come play games focused around American Sign Language! We have games for all knowledge levels, so this event is open to the entire school and no ASL knowledge is required! Professor Camila Zamboni will introduce the importance of play and games for language acquisition. She will also be running games of "Sign," a board game inspired by the formation of Nicaraguan sign language in the 1970's, played in complete silence.

    Bring your friends to sing your heart out in the languages you love! The Multilingual Karaoke Night is a great opportunity to flex your singing skills and have refreshments with your friends and multilingual peers. As a special treat, Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs) will prepare a song for you! We encourage singers of all languages to participate. Request to sing a song on this Karaoke Form

  • Friday, February 23
    • Mi español/My Spanish, 12-1 PM, Fisk 201

    Spanish is the language of all sorts of people, places and personal situations—colonized and colonizing, a mother tongue and an elusive aspiration, a source of feeling at home and a source of anxiety, and so much more. What is Spanish for you? ¿Qué es el español para ti? Come and orally share your feelings and your experience in Spanish/English/Spanglish, with your own words or borrowed words (with proper credit). Read it or recite it. (Intervention limited to 5 minutes) Pizza will be served!

    The German studies Department is hosting a Pop In Vinyl Café, serving German musical & culinary treats. Stop by, listen to some records, and enjoy a selection of German desserts.

    • Venezuelan and Somali Languages and Cultures, 3:00-4:00 PM, Fisk 209 RSVP on WesNest

    International students from the Wesleyan International Speakers Program (WISP) will be talking about their languages (Spanish and Somaliland), sharing about their cultures, their backgrounds, and their experience in the United States.

    Play Chinese Mahjong together!

    The event highlights indigenous African languages with activities such as "Say It Like a Local" booths, spoken word, storytelling, poetry, African drum and dance workshops, and charades.

  • More on the Bengali Language Movement

    The Bengali Language Movement began in East Pakistan, or East Bengal, after it was declared by the Pakistani government that Urdu, the language primarily spoken in West Pakistan, would be the only official spoken language, rather than their native Bangla. In a stand against cultural assimilation and linguistic oppression, citizens of East Bengal protested for the recognition of their Bangla language for five years. In 1952, it was once again reiterated by the Pakistani government that Urdu was the only official language, triggering more widespread protests held on February 21st across East Bengal. This movement continued for years and eventually gave rise to nationalist movements in East Bengal, leading to their declaration of independence on March 26. It would take a liberation war for Bangladesh to finally be independent in 1971. Decades later, the 21st of February was officially declared by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day.

  • Our Sponsors

    This week of events is made possible with the support from many offices, centers, departments and organizations. We would like to express our greatest gratitudes to:

    • Fries Center for Global Studies
    • Center for the Arts
    • College of East Asian Studies
    • Department of Dance
    • Department of English
    • Department of German Studies
    • Deparment of Global South Asian Studies
    • Department of History
    • Department of Romance Languages & Literatures
    • Graduate Student Association
    • Office of International Student Affairs
    • Office of Sustainability
    • Resource Center
    • Shapiro Writing Center
  • Power of Language Week Steering Committee


    Thais García Bagué, Global Language and Outreach Fellow, tgarcia@wesleyan.edu, Committee Leader

    Gabriela Berzinskas, Advisor, Office of Study Abroad, gberzinskas@wesleyan.edu 

    Hansini Bhasker, Graduate Student, Music Performance, hbhasker@wesleyan.edu

    Jennifer Collingwood, Administrative Assistant, Fries Center for Global Studies, jcollingwood@wesleyan.edu 

    Anita Deeg-Carlin, Director of Intercultural Learning, adeegcarlin@wesleyan.edu 

    Elizabeth (Beth) Hepford, Assistant Professor of the Practice in TESOL, Education Studies, and English, ehepford@wesleyan.edu 

    Dari Jigjidsuren, Assistant Director of International Student Engagement, Office of International Student Affairs, jdari@wesleyan.edu

    Morgan Keller, Director, Office of International Student Affairs, mkeller@wesleyan.edu 

    Cyn Le, Multilingual Writing Fellow, mlwriting@wesleyan.edu 

    Emmanuel Paris-Bouvret, Director, Languages and Technology, eparis@welseyan.edu 

    Khải Tran, Academic Support Coordinator, Office of Student Academic Resources, ktran01@wesleyan.edu

    Anastasia Wright, Social Media Specialist, University Communications, adaniels@wesleyan.edu