Foreign Language Week: DHS Celebrates Culture

Foreign Language Week: DHS Celebrates Culture

Hola! Bom dia! Nǐ hǎo! If you did not notice the flags in the front hallway or the foreign words labeling rooms and objects throughout the building, last week DHS celebrated foreign language and culture. Thanks to the Foreign Language Club and the Language Department, students participated in events ranging from themed dress-up days to a scavenger hunt and food drive.

The Foreign Language Club was in the midst of planning for this week since the beginning of the year when Portuguese teacher and club advisor, Deborah Dias-Faria, first came up with the idea. The high school has celebrated foreign language in the past, but the language department has faced difficulties with planning and organizing the event.

“Between having time to prepare for language week, funding any prizes, planning and getting events approved, the department has struggled in the past,” said Ms. Dias-Faria, “so this year I was hoping to change that as the advisor of the Foreign Language Club.”
Senior Riley Brizida, a member of the Foreign Language Club, enjoyed decorating the school for the spirit week. “We set up flags in the main hallway [and] labels in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese all around the school,” said Brizida. “In the library we arranged a few displays of books about different countries and their cultures.”

I think it’s great that we are celebrating foreign language.

— DHS biology teacher Sandra Mitra

As part of the weeklong celebration, students were encouraged to dress according to a specific theme for each day. Monday’s theme was Chinese Day, Tuesday was International T-shirt Day, and Wednesday was Soccer Jersey Day. On Thursday, some students and faculty dressed as Portuguese Fado musicians for “Día de Fado,” and students wore bright colors for Folklore Day on Friday.

“[In] past language celebrations we had students dress in the colors of the flags,” Dias-Faria explained, “but this year the club members and I felt that planning actual theme days, like in the fall during football season, that maybe students would feel more involved due to having to find particular outfits rather than just colors.”

Though participation during the dress-up days was not as high as the Foreign Language Club would have liked, Ms. Dias-Faria and the club’s members are hopeful for more involvement during next year’s Foreign Language Week.

Aside from planning the themed days, the Foreign Language Club organized a scavenger hunt. Students were tasked with matching international or language experiences with DHS faculty. For example, one mystery faculty member explains in a clue, “I was held at gunpoint by Taiwanese soldiers in Taipei because I took a photo of an army base.” Selected students who completed the scavenger hunt were to receive a gift card for a Spanish, Portuguese, or Chinese restaurant.

Another event on Wednesday involved the Portuguese consulate of New Bedford speaking to language students at DHS about his job and the importance of learning different languages. Throughout the week, the Foreign Language Club also held a food drive for the Seven Hills Behavioral Center in New Bedford. The food drive was successful according to Portuguese and Spanish teacher, Hilaria Sousa.

Students were not the only ones celebrating last week. “Many colleagues were helpful and excited about celebrating Foreign Language week,” Ms. Dias-Faria observed. “I’ve even seen many faculty members wearing clothing that reflects the theme of the day.”

One of those faculty members is biology and horticulture teacher Sandra Mitra. On International T-shirt Day, she proudly wore her Germany shirt. “I think it’s great that we are celebrating foreign language,” said Dr. Mitra. She noted the importance of learning foreign languages as well as her despair that people in the United States do not seem to be as well versed in different languages as those in European countries. “I wish I was bilingual,” she added.

“What am I hoping will come from this? That everyone sees the diversity and culture we not only have in our building, but also teach here,” said Ms. Dias-Faria. “I am also hoping that years to come this will get more students and faculty involved, and hopefully we can offer other presentations or visitors to speak to students about the importance of learning languages.”