36th annual ‘Foreign Language Festival’

A Panamanian student performs the “Mirror Devils Dance” in the Student Union Breezeway on the occasion of “Foreign Language Festival.” Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar

The department of languages and communication organized the 36th annual “Foreign Language Festival.”

On Friday, April 13, high school students gathered to showcase their expertise in the foreign language they have been studying in school. Students competed in various categories such as prose, poetry, extemporaneous speaking, music and theatre.

“This is an opportunity for them to showcase their talent in the language that they love to learn,” said Instructor of Languages and Communication Aileen Mootoo-Robertson, an organizer of the event.

Mootoo-Robertson also described how the event promotes the university to high school students who are deciding about furthering their education in college.

“It is the perfect opportunity for them to see the campus,” said Mootoo-Robertson. “It’s also a promoting tool, hoping some of these students will consider coming to Southeastern.” 

The event hosted over 200 students who took part in various competitions. Mootoo-Robertson explained how she and co-coordinator Jerry Parker have been able to coordinate activities to organize the event. 

“He has been the one in charge with communicating with the teachers, registering the students, and I am in charge of everything that relates to the campus activities whether it’s posting the signs, creating the names to the time that the students compete at, all the breezeway activities,” said Mootoo-Robertson. 

Amanda Santos de Oliveira was awarded as the Outstanding Senior Student in Spanish Oral Interview. She won a $1,000 travel gift certificate. The award was a new addition to the festival and will allow de Oliveira to travel to a Spanish-speaking country. She shared her thoughts about the event and her plans on how she will use the travel gift. 

“It was pretty fun,” said de Oliveira. “I really liked it, and it was a great experience. It was my second year. Last year, I didn’t get the awards. This year, it was really good, and I really like this new category. I really didn’t think I was going to win it. I would like to go to Bolivia to see my cousin. I love Bolivia. I studied about it. I want to take advantage to see my cousin that I haven’t seen in a long time.” 

The festival included other new additions to enhance the ambience of the event. This year, popcorn was served in the breezeway. Tables were set up to provide information about the department. The event also coincided with “Lion Pride Preview” day where the students could take tours of campus. The festival featured a 14-minute-long dance performance by Panamanian students.

De Oliveira believes the event provided her initiative to enhance her knowledge in foreign language. She encouraged other students to get the same benefit by participating in such an event. 

“It’s a great thing,” said de Oliveira. “It pushes people to say, ‘Hey, it’s a competition. OK, let me get my studies on for it.’ It helps people to really get into Spanish. For me, it was like, ‘I’m going to learn about a country,’ to know a country a lot better.”