Language department brings its communities together

The Department of Language Studies held the Annual Awards Reception and Music Gala on Friday, September 30 in the CCIT building. The event kicked off with greeting and salutations from professor and department chair Michael Lettieri, UTM’s vice-president Amy Mullin, and Anjeza Rexha, the president of the Language Studies Academic Society.

“Life does not come in subtitles, and this is where we come in to ensure that we all can understand each other,” said Lettieri.

UTM’s language department has expanded to include a wider variety of courses and prepare students to pursue careers in the global market.

“So what do we do? We celebrate, first and foremost, our students,” explained Lettieri. “We also celebrate and recognize the wonderful work done by our instructors and teaching assistants. We also have a scholarly international journal called Mosaic, run by teachers. We published essays by three undergraduates and one graduate student. This is a really extraordinary achievement. We are proud that we were able to give them the opportunity to be published in such a prestigious journal. We presented the students with commemorative copies of that issue.”

Prior to 2003, UTM only offered French, German, and Italian languages to its student body, with occasional Slovakian and Russian courses. However, as the student demographics changed, the department felt the need to expand the variety of languages. Lettieri took great pride in noting that the language department has since expanded to also offer courses in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, Persian, and Urdu. They also teach Latin, Sanskrit, and experimental and theoretical linguistics.

“These are the areas of emphasis that distinguish our language studies, and I feel that their synergy places our department really among the nation’s very best in the field,” Lettieri said.

Last year, UTM officially changed the name of the Department of French, German, and Italian Studies to the Department of Language Studies. The languages offered were all combined into one umbrella department which included new courses, including as Modern Chinese. Lettieri notes that the department’s function is a very collaborative environment where fellow instructors and teaching assistants take a vested interest in learning more about each other’s languages.

The first part of the event involved a music gala opening, which was a representation of all of the languages taught at the campus. UTM hosted many acclaimed international musicians. The first piece, “Mahboob”, was performed in Persian by Arjang Seyfizadeh and Naghmeh Farahmand. This was followed by a traditional Arabic melody and percussion piece performed by Bassam Bishara and Suleiman Warwar.

After an intermission and reception, the awards for European Studies, the Research Opportunity Program, and the Concurrent Teacher Education Program were given out for outstanding work by instructors, teaching assistants, and tutors. For the grand finale, classical tenor James Ciantar sang “Granada” in Spanish. A well-known soprano, Florence Zhang, sang a Chinese aria called “Ah si ben mio”. The closing act was performed by Brampton native Charlene Santoni, who sang Mozart’s “Der Hölle Rache” in German.

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