Dear Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

Out of a wish to celebrate and make audible as well as visible the many, many languages we speak, you are invited to participate in a multi-lingual “speak out” at the EMU amphitheater, Nov. 29, 11:00-3:00. (We’ll move indoors if we have to, but there will be a tent against rain.) This will be an open-mic, drop-in event, but if you know you’d like to speak, please stop by the Romance Languages department office in 102 Friendly; we’ll have a sign-up sheet available. You can also sign up at the event.

Come say a few words in a language that’s meaningful to you—one you’re studying, one you learned at home, one that belongs to your family’s heritage, one you use in research. It might take the form of a testimonial (“what studying French has meant to me”), or the reading of a poem or a short passage of prose. A person might simply introduce herself as a speaker of Arabic or Swedish or Swahili. Some people might want to sing a song, chant nursery rhymes, or recite a soliloquy from a classic play. All languages are welcome (ASL emphatically included). 

This gathering responds to reports of community members who have recently felt uncomfortable speaking languages other than English in public, and it builds on the important, ongoing work of Claudia Holguín Mendoza and the rest of the faculty and students in the Spanish Heritage Language program, whose organization of events such as National Spanglish Day (also celebrated in the EMU amphitheater) continually highlight the ways in which living bilingually may be liberating, but can also be sharply constrained. The current atmosphere feels more charged to many, but the challenges of speaking Spanish in public are not new.

I hope you’ll want to join in, invite your students and friends, and help to spread the word. Please forward this invitation widely, and join us on Nov. 29 for as much or as little of the event as you can.

From: Amalia Gladhart, Professor of Spanish, Head, Dept. of Romance Languages