Michigan State University will host its 10th annual World Languages Day on Saturday, March 25, bringing more than 600 participants, presenters, and volunteers to campus for a conference on world cultures and languages, globalization, the importance of learning foreign languages, and the positive impact knowledge of other languages can have on future career paths.
This free, one-day conference is for high school students, teachers, and parents from across the state. It is being held in MSU’s Business College Complex/Eppley Center.
Participants can choose from 75 different multilingual, multicultural sessions taught by MSU faculty, graduate students, and community members. The sessions range from Vikings to vinyasa yoga, teen life and language in France to Tamil-speaking teens, and Hangeul to Hamlet. About 20 organizations will host information booths where participants can find information on specific language programs, departments, colleges, admission to MSU, financial aid, study abroad, etc.
Language learning is so important because it teaches one to understand other people.NATHAN BYNUM
This year’s plenary speaker is MSU alumnus Nathan Bynum, a Japanese language teacher at Barack Obama Academy of International Studies. Bynum is a former student volunteer and presenter at World Languages Day and will now deliver the keynote address at the conference. He graduated from MSU in 2012 with a B.A. in Japanese and German and also received a teacher certificate from MSU in 2013. In his World Languages Day address, he will talk about how international education has impacted him and so many others around him.
“Language learning is so important because it teaches one to understand other people,” Bynum said. “It teaches you what to do when you encounter difference, whether it be abroad or even in the United States.”
Bynum has had many international experiences — high school and college study abroad in Japan, internships in Germany, and chaperoning students to Japan and Germany as a teacher — and is incredibly passionate about languages, exploring other cultures, and using the skills he’s gained abroad in his classrooms.
“Language learning has had a huge effect on my life,” he said. “It is my career and it’s also enhanced the quality of my life. I went to Japan as a 16-year-old and met an amazing host family and they are still a major part of my life.”
Bynum now advises students to study abroad and to live with a host family, as they add a different dynamic to the study abroad experience.
“When you get home from school, there’s someone there to talk to you,” he said. “They are a support system, and they are there to take care of you.”
As a student at MSU, Bynum found an important network of support. Now at academic conferences, alumni events, and informal outreach, he’s found there is always a familiar face from MSU.
“The biggest thing I am thankful for is MSU’s commitment to urban education,” he said. “Through these experiences, my eyes got opened to the possibility of teaching at an urban school — something I would have never considered before.”
Bynum now teaches middle school Japanese and is looking forward to attending World Languages Day with his students.
“I’m excited to be attending my first WLD with my own students,” he said. “This is something that I could have never dreamed of and I am so thankful to the WLD Committee for how much support they have lent in this process.”
The 2017 World Languages Day is sponsored by 17 MSU campus units. For more information, visit the World Languages Day website.