Students Get a Taste of Culture at Language Happy Hour

Photo by Shannon Jirkovsky

In an effort to increase their foreign language skills with the added incentive of socialization and international food, students have been attending Language Happy Hours during common hour in ASB-123 for a few weeks now. Put on by the Roukema Center for International Education five days a week, Language Happy Hours, which always offer food from the region of the language being studied, are a way for students with all language proficiencies to learn languages in a less formal setting.

“It's not like a class,” explains senior David Resnick. “It’s more like a get-together. That’s one of the real reasons why I like it; it’s not so structured and you can ask whatever questions you want.”

With German Mondays, Portuguese Tuesdays, Spanish Wednesdays, Japanese Thursdays and Wildcard Fridays, Language Happy Hours offer various programs for those looking to expand their international vocabulary. Techniques for language learning involve everything from flash cards and calligraphy, to card games and songs.

This past Friday, during Nepali Happy Hour, students got to learn greetings and phrases as well as the popular Nepali folk song “Resham Firiri,” all while enjoying delicious Nepali dishes.

Senior Colleen Moran who attended last Friday’s Nepali Happy Hour said, “I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was really fun. I learned some phrases in Nepali and some interesting things about the culture.”

Resnick explains, “I love languages and I also love food, and Language Happy Hour combines both. Learning a new language is important to me because I think the more people you can communicate with, the more people you can have a connection with—that’s why I come to Language Happy Hour.”

The Language Happy Hours, which are now in their third year, started because of the efforts of alumna Nora Dougherty.

Ben Levy, the director for international education, explained, “Nora was a former study abroad student in Spain who came back and wanted to do a Spanish Happy Hour. We started with that and expand and expanded, and are now doing a full-on five days a week.”

The Roukema Center for International Education hopes that through these Language Happy Hours, students will gain a better understanding of other cultures.

“We put them on to promote language and cultural awareness on campus,” said Levy. “We feel that international education is something broader than having a study abroad experience; it is gaining more perspective in culture, and language is a huge aspect of that. We really hope that by encouraging more students to find languages fun, we will get more students to enroll in taking the formal language classes that Ramapo offers and hopefully build the program into something even bigger than it is now.”

Resnick, who frequently attends Language Happy Hours, now finds them one of the best parts of his week.

“I walked into Japanese Happy Hour and saw the food; I was hooked and now I come to all the events,” he said. “I enjoy myself very much during Happy Hour, it’s one of the most fun parts of the day.”