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Part 2: Keck Center Intern Spotlights! Featuring: Ayman and Lars

By ninapalisano on April 4, 2019

Ayman Abdalla, Arabic Language Intern

I am the Arabic intern at Colgate. I am from Cairo, Egypt and I have had the privilege of being the Arabic intern here for the 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 academic years.

Before becoming interested in language learning, I was actually a professional musician. I play eight percussion instruments and have had the honor of performing on Egypt’s most prominent stages, including the Cairo Opera House and the Citadel’s Festival.

I bring this passion for music to the classrooms, where I teach my students Arabic through song. I have recently begun playing with Journey West, an Ithica-based band, and am excited to be back on the stage again

My favorite phrase in Arabic is إعمل الخير وارميه في البحر 

which literally translates to: “Do good deeds and throw them into the sea” meaning that one should do good and expect nothing in return.

  Lars Munzer, German Language Intern


My hometown is Freiburg im Breisgau, a sunny and green city located in the German southwest. In Germany, we are perhaps best known for our green politics, our beautiful cathedral and the SC Freiburg, our very own underdog team in the German Bundesliga.

I currently hold a B.A. in English and American Studies (with a minor in Swedish) and am only a final thesis away from holding an M.A. in British and North American Cultural Studies. As far as personal interests go I love languages, music, and reading as well as outdoor activities.

Some of my favorite idiomatic phrases in German include “Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof” (literally “I understand only train station” = I have no idea what you are saying), “Holla, die Waldfee!” (“Holla, the wood fairy!” = an expression of surprise) and “Nicht richtig ticken” (“Not ticking correctly” = “to have a screw loose”).

Fun facts about me: I know how to operate a forklift and I am getting pretty good at imitating an out-of-tune trumpet.

Keck Center Intern Spotlights! Featuring: Giuseppe, Megumi, and Jaime

By ninapalisano on March 28, 2019

Our fantastic 2018-2019 Language Interns are approaching the end of their time at Colgate. We’ll be spotlighting them on the blog over the next few weeks.

Giuseppe Grispino, Italian Language Intern

My hometown is Palermo, Sicily, Italy but I have spent the past eight years of my life between Norway, England, Italy and China.

I hold two M.A. one in Languages and Civilizations of Asia and Mediterranean Africa (Venice, Italy) and one in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (Beijing, China).

Favourite phrase: Abbiamo confini, non limiti. (We have boundaries, not limits).

Fun fact: Most days you will find me drinking coffee, with a book in my hands, listening to music, speaking a bunch of languages or writing stories in my notepad.

Megumi Kuriyama, Japanese Language Intern

Hometown: Tokyo

What I studied at university: Second Language Acquisition.  In particular, motivation to learn languages.

Favorite phrase in my language; 一期一会 (Treasure every encounter, for it will never recur)

Jaime Pumares Lolo, Spanish Langauge Intern

My name is Jaime Pumares Lolo, I am the Spanish intern for this year. My bachelor degree is in Biology and my postgraduate studies in Education. I love Colgate, despite the cold and the snow because this place permits me to enjoy trekking and the nature. I am excited to work in the Keck Center and collaborate in having  a good work environment where I try to have fun with all the workers although we are working.

My great interest in education and the different ways to find the best model for our society has made me who I am, I want to continue my career in this field.

My favorite phrase is: A buen entendedor, pocas palabras sobran. (A good listener needs few words.)

Language Student Interview Spotlight: Jenny Lundt ’19

By ninapalisano on March 18, 2019
Jenny in Nepal

What languages do you speak and/or study?

I have studied Arabic and Tibetan formally during my time at Colgate, and I’ve studied Spanish since high school and now speak it fluently. I also speak a bit of French learned in high school. I learned Portuguese informally in Brazil, but my Portuguese is pretty bad – I need to be going to Table of Babel to brush up!

How has language study been different for you at Colgate than it was in high school?

I’m from Southern California, and I definitely had a lot more exposure to Spanish and Spanish speakers while I was learning that language – as opposed to Hamilton, where my use of Arabic is primarily contained to the classroom. The other main difference in language study here is that while I have a lot less actual class time than I had in high school, I’ve committed a much larger portion of my time in general to studying and speaking the languages that I’m learning.

What has been your favorite language class or professor on campus?

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Shaemma Essa, an Arabic instructor who is sadly not teaching at Colgate any more. She is finishing up her degree at McGill and I miss her every day!

Have you done any interesting research projects at Colgate?

I have done mini research projects on chess, radio, and sustainable building methods in Peru, Mexico, and Colombia. These experiences gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish in three different cultures and contexts. Using Spanish during those projects helped me to understand WAY more than I would have otherwise.

What else do you study besides languages? Do you see crossover between your fields of study?

My major is Peace and Conflict Studies – and absolutely! There are so many ties between language skills and peacemaking – and in being able to resolve conflicts and differences. The root of tolerance is understanding, which has to be reached by communication. I think they are connected in every way.

Have you received any scholarships or fellowships for language study?

I haven’t received any formal language scholarships from Colgate, but I received summer funding after my freshman year to travel to Amman, Jordan and practice my Arabic. I also received funding last summer to travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where I picked up some Indonesian.

Have you been able to study abroad? What was your experience like, and how did it contribute to your education at Colgate?

I studied abroad in Kathmandu, Nepal – and I absolutely loved my time in Nepal. The people I met there – from the people on my program and the staff, the instructors, and my language partners – made my experience so memorable. We learned so much about Tibetan and Himalayan cultures and experiences, traveled to beautiful places, pushed ourselves past our comfort zones, and made beautiful memories together. You can read more about my study abroad experience in this series: http://blogs.colgate.edu/bentonscholars/category/tbs-abroad

What recommendations would you have for someone who wants to learn the languages that you study?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! The best way to learn a language is to lose all shame and self-consciousness, and just throw yourself into learning. If you approach it with hesitation and nervousness, you won’t actually be absorbing what you learn. Make your mistakes and laugh them off. You’ll be better off for it!

Why do you think studying languages is important?

Having the ability to connect with others – even on a basic level with “hellos” and “how are yous” – can transform your relationship with people and places. It leads to more cross-cultural understanding and tolerance and is tied inextricably to world peace. When we try to understand each other and build relationships, that’s where magic happens.

What impact do you see language study having on the rest of your life? Do you have any future plans that involve languages?

I plan to have an international career, although I’m not exactly sure of the field yet. I know that whatever I choose to do will involve language in some aspect, and it’s important for both my personal and career fulfillment to be able to communicate well. I recently received a Projects for Peace Fellowship, so I will be in Timor-Leste during the summer of 2019. I plan to improve both my Indonesian and my Portuguese while I’m there, as both languages are spoken on the island. Since my project under this fellowship is about peace and reconciliation, I think my knowledge of languages will be crucial.

Language Student Interview Spotlight: Renee Congdon ’20

By ninapalisano on February 18, 2019
Renee (right) with a group of international friends in Madrid, Spain

What languages do you speak/study?

I speak and study Spanish, and I speak Portuguese at an intermediate level.

Did you study languages before coming to Colgate?

Yes. Growing up I learned American Sign Language to communicate with my cousin, who is deaf. In high school I began to take Spanish classes, and also studied Swahili for about 6 months.

How has language study been different for you at Colgate than it was in high school?

Language study at Colgate, for me, has been entirely literature-based. In high school I only ever took language/grammar courses, but since my first semester at Colgate I have been taking courses in Latin American and Spanish literature. This makes language study much more engaging and dynamic for me personally. 

What has been your favorite language class and/or professor on campus?

This is such a tough question. ROLA has such great professors. I think there’s a three-way tie here between Marta Pérez Carbonell, Ricardo Monsalve, and Fernando Plata. In particular, I really enjoyed Marta’s class on contemporary Spanish novels and her short stories class, as well as Ricardo’s seminar on Borges.   

What else do you study besides languages?

I’m currently working on minors in Linguistics and English. 

Do you see crossover between your fields of study?

Definitely. Linguistics is fascinating, and very relevant to Spanish studies, especially when looking at older texts in which you can actually see examples of the way the language has evolved. English, in also being a literature major, definitely crosses over and provides me with more points of reference for my Spanish literature studies. 

Have you received any scholarships or fellowships for language study?

Last summer I received a Lampert Language Fellowship to study Portuguese. I was able to take private lessons all throughout the summer, and then put the language skills I’d learned to the test in December, when I visited mainland Portugal and the Azores Islands. 

Where have you been able to study abroad?

I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad in Madrid, Spain during the Fall 2018 semester. The Madrid trip is a Colgate program run through the Spanish department in collaborating with CEU San Pablo, a private university in Madrid. Throughout the semester, we also travelled around Spain, visiting Toledo, Granada, Santiago de Compostela and lots of other towns.

What was your study abroad experience like? How did it contribute to your education at Colgate?

My study abroad experience was so wonderful. Speaking Spanish 24/7 was so helpful for my fluency and confidence, and being able to live in and explore Madrid was especially exciting after two years in Hamilton. My all time favorite part of my study abroad experience was, without a doubt, the people I met in Madrid. I got very close with a group of students from CEU, including some Spanish students as well as some international students from Peru and Colombia. We would often go out to eat together or spend hours hanging out at one of our apartments, chatting in Spanish and occasionally singing, dancing, and playing guitar, since lots of them happen to be musically inclined. Spending so much time with them was incredibly helpful for improving my accent and my casual conversational abilities. 

What recommendations would you give to someone who wanted to learn the language you study?

DO IT! Spanish is arguably one of the most useful (not to mention beautiful) languages you can learn, especially as someone living in North America. 

Why do you think studying languages is important?

It opens up an entire new population of the world to you. It also helps to expand your worldview in a very concrete, psychological way: if you subscribe to the theory of linguistic relativity, you understand that the language you speak limits, channels, and shapes your reality. When you learn a new language, you often change your interpretation of reality. Additionally, if you enjoy traveling, I think it’s crucial to speak another language besides English to enrich your experience. 

What impact do you see language study having on the rest of your life?

It will hopefully dictate and guide my entire career path! My current plan is to apply for doctoral programs in Spanish literature, and to hopefully eventually become a university professor. Additionally, I now have many close friends that I would’t have gotten to know if I didn’t speak Spanish. I see those friendships continuing – and new ones being created throughout the rest of my life – as a result of studying Spanish.

The Keck Center Presents: Spring 2019 International Short Film Series (Feb 12: “Love”)

By ninapalisano on February 11, 2019

The Keck Center is thrilled to host a themed short film series this semester! We’re kicking things off on Tuesday, February 12 at 6PM with Valentine-themed cinema and candy from around the world.

彼女と彼女の猫“She and Her Cat” (Japanese, 1999) 4:44 runtime 
A year in the life of a cat and his human.

Vale “Okay” (Spanish and English, 2015) 12:04 runtime
Celebrating life and saying “yes” to invitations – despite a language barrier.

Una notte ancora “One More Night” (Italian, 2012) 10:55 runtime
Two men navigate the painful and poetic end of their love affair.

“Samuel-613” (Yiddish and English, 2015) 15:45 runtime 
A young Hasidic man in Britain faces the modern temptation of online dating.

 RHINOS “Love Knows No Border” (German and English, 2012) 14:00 runtime
A chance meeting on a park bench leads to (mis)understanding and connection.