February 20-25, 2023 | Wesleyan University | Fisk Hall, 262 High St, Middletown, CT

Power of Language Week seeks to bring together multilingual students with students of foreign languages in an attempt to knit together the multilingual community on Wesleyan’s campus in order to recognize their efforts in and outside of the classroom, in curricular and co-curricular activities.

This year, we are thrilled to be launching Power of Language a week of events in honor of the Bengali Language Movement, and this year’s themes for POL are: self determination to preserve one’s mother tongue and the protection of critical languages. The Fries Center for Global Studies strives to make Power of Language an opportunity to celebrate multilingualism and embrace the language community that already exists on campus, and we welcome you to take part with us in doing so! Taking place from February 20th to February 25th, 2023, join us in celebrating the Bengali Language Movement and International Mother Language Day (February 21st) by showing us what language means to YOU!

Schedule of events

  • Monday, February 20th

    Language Tables:

    Spanish | 12:00-1:00pm | Usdan 1st floor

    ASL Chat Time |12:00-12:30pm | Fisk 201

    Russian | 4:30-5:40pm | Fisk 403


    Author in Conversation with Rebecca F. Kuang

    4:30pm | Daniel Family Commons (3rd Floor of Usdan)

    Rebecca F. Kuang is the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy and Babel: An Arcane History, as well as the forthcoming Yellowface. She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford; she is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale.
    This event will consist of a conversation between Rebecca and Prof. Stephen Angle about the inter-relations between languages, translation, and colonialism—as developed in Babel and more generally—and then opening to questions from the audience (moderated by Prof. Angle), concluded by a book signing (books will be available for purchase courtesy of RJ Julia).

    Click the Facebook link for more details!


    Multilingual Letter Write-In

    7:00-9:00pm | 115 Boger Hall

    Take some time to practice your language skills and send a hand-written letter to your family or friends! Whether you're reconnecting with an old buddy or updating your parents, decorate your letter and we'll mail it off for you.


    Soirée jeux de société

    6:00-7:30pm | Fries Center for Global Studies, 201 Fisk Hall

    Venez vous amuser en jouant des jeux de société en français! Come have fun and play some board games in French!

  • Tuesday, February 21st

    Language Tables:

    Spanish | 12:00-1:00pm | Usdan 1st floor


    Deaf in America and/et Sourd(e) en France

    12:00pm | Fries Center for Global Studies, 201 Fisk Hall

    Pedro Pascual, Assistant Professor of the practice in American Sign Language and Catherine Poisson, Associate Professor of French Studies will discuss some of the cultural différences between the French film La Famille Bélier and its American remake CODA.

    This event will have an ASL Interpreter.

    To watch La famille Bélier, click here. CODA is only available via Apple TV.


    Rangoli Workshop

    12:00-1:30pm | 209 Fisk Hall

    Rangoli is an art form originating from the Indian Subcontinent. Priyanka Chakraborty, our Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from India, would like to invite students to come and participate in making Rangolis with various colours on tracing sheets as an attempt to spread the cultural art of  the Indian Subcontinent across campus. Food will be provided at this event.


    Italian Game Night

    4:30-7:00pm | 164 Mt. Vernon St.

    Come and practice your Italian by playing board games and having fun! All levels welcome.


  • Wednesday, February 22nd

    Language Tables

    Spanish | 12-1:00pm | Usdan 1st floor

    Italian | 12-1:00pm | Usdan Quiet Side

    Hindi-Urdu |12-1:00pm | Usdan Quiet Side

    German | 12-1:15pm | Usdan Quiet Side


    Peace Corps Info Session

    12pm |Fries Center for Global Studies, 201 Fisk Hall

    How will you engage with the world after graduation?

    Join us as we focus on service with the Peace Corps (and related careers) during Power of Language Week! The Peace Corps was started by John F. Kennedy in 1960 and is “rooted in a shared vision for what is possible by working with, living alongside, and celebrating the diversity of cultures around the world.” We’ll hear from two outstanding alumni, Ameen Beydoun '11, Sofía Navarrete Zur '19, and Andrea Weires '19, who are currently serving, or have completed service, and who each have compelling stories about their global engagement journeys. Learn about these alumni’s decision-making processes and journeys through the Peace Corps and beyond as globally engaged citizens!

    Japanese Language Lunch Lecture

    12pm | 209 Fisk Hall



    4:30pm | 305 Fisk Hall

    Event inspired by a Spanish television program where the participants have to guess the words from a definition. The words would be from all over the spanish speaking countries. Finalists will win a small prize!



    6:00-7:00pm | 210 Fisk Hall

    The event will be focused on riddles and tongue twisters in Spanish. Come laugh, test your Spanish oral skills, and compete for a winning prize!



    Screening of 2 TV episodes of "Fire Dance"

    8:00-10:00pm| Goldsmith Family Cinema

    The TV show explores the relationship between language and religious practice in the ultra religious sector of the Israeli society.

  • Thursday, February 23rd

    Language Tables

    French | 11:30am-1:30pm | Usdan Quiet Side

    Spanish | 12:00-1:00pm | Usdan 1st floor

    Japanese | 12:00-1:00pm | Fisk 209

    Chinese | 12:00-1:00pm | Boger 113

    Korean | 12:00-1:00pm | Usdan 1st floor 


    Sign Language Introductory Workshop

    12:00-1:00pm | 201 Fisk Hall

    Come and learn some basic sign language! This will be an introductory workshop for students and faculty/staff to learn the alphabet and basic greeting vocabulary. Food will be provided at this event.


    Arabic Tea Challenge

    1:00-3:00pm | 209 Fisk Hall

    Join us for some language games and tea challenge with snacks!


    Eurovision: Is Music a Universal Language?

    6pm | Fries Center for Global Studies, 201 Fisk Hall

    Long before American Idol and The Voice, an earlier singing contest has been captivating the spirits of tens of millions of Viewers: The Eurovision, the international song competition organized annually by the European Broadcasting Union.

    The Eurovision launched the international careers of ABBA and Celine Dion, among others, empowered radical, progressive, and groundbreaking acts, and unfortunately, also created political conflicts and tension. In the spirit of the voting system of the event, in which 12 is the highest number of points, we will discuss 12 fascinating stories from the history of Eurovision. As part of Power of Language Week, we will also discuss how this global competition exposed songs in different languages – English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew, and more. Food will be provided at this event.


    Mahjong Club 

    4pm | 209 Fisk

    Want to learn Mahjong but haven't got the chance? Think Mahjong is difficult to learn? Come to our Mahjong Workshop! We will learn the basics, and you will be able to play it with other people.


    Spanish Game Night

    6:00pm | 305 Fisk

    We will play spanish and colombian board games and cards, meeting people from different cultures and different countries while speaking Spanish!


  • Friday, February 24th

    Japanese Culture Celebration

    12:30-1:30pm | 209 Fisk Hall

    Explore Japanese culture through toys like “Kendama” and “Koma”. Get to know your japanese name, learn pronunciation and characters of simple words.

    Envisioning an English Teaching Journey in a Colonized World
    4:00-5:00pm | 014 Olin Memorial Library (the basement of Olin on the right-hand side)

    In the panel, Teresa Speciale (Education Studies), Beth Hepford (Shapiro Center for Writing and Ed. Studies) and Morgan Keller (Office of International Student Affairs) will discuss their experiences teaching English abroad and the career paths these experiences led them to afterward. The panel will be organized around the journey - choosing how and where to go, our experiences in-country, coming home and career paths. While we agree that teaching English abroad is an amazing experience, we will encourage you to think deeply about your identity, the responsibilities that come with U.S. privilege, and your expectations while teaching abroad. Snacks and hot cocoa provided!

More information about 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.


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 Jewish Studies
  • Office of International Student Affairs
  • College of East Asian Studies
  • Department of History
  • South Asian Studies Minor
  • Department of English
  • Division I Dean's Office
  • Shapiro Writing Center
  • Department of Romance Languages & Literatures
  • Thomas and Catharine McMahon Fund

Power of Language Week Steering Committee

Verónica Socorro Matos, Committe Leader, Global Language and Outreach Fellow, vsocorro@wesleyan.edu

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

Priyanka Chakraborty, Foreign Language Teaching Assitant for Hindi-Urdu, pchakraborty@wesleyan.edu 

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

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

Elizabeth (Beth) Hepford, Assistant Professor of the practice in TESOL, Education Studies, and English ehepford@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