Native tongues: Visiting scholars give voice to world languages

Article originally in Around the O on December 7, 2015 - 6:00am by Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications

Traveling across the world to share knowledge in a foreign place is an impressive undertaking.

The road is perhaps a bit easier with highly valued Fulbright scholarships, but UO foreign language teaching assistants Tooba Ahmed and Thanh Nguyen nonetheless moved away from family, friends and colleagues to come to Eugene, a place where very few people speak their native languages.

However, they might soon be hearing the familiar sounds of their native tongues — Hindi-Urdu for Ahmed and Vietnamese for Nguyen — around campus: They’re here to teach them to UO students throughout the 2015-16 academic year.

Ahmed and Nguyen are teaching classes as part of the UO Yamada Language Center’s Self Study Language Program, where students and community members can take not-for-credit language classes at their own pace with weekly tutor-mediated sessions to help them with their studies.

While Ahmed and Nguyen are at the UO they will also participate in the university’s International Cultural Service Program, which provides financial awards to international students who each year put in 80 hours of community outreach. Students are invited to give public presentations and engage with the Eugene and Springfield communities — mostly schools and other civic groups — to talk about their native culture and languages.

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