Students and faculty can now get their news in more than one language thanks to the Multilingual Gazette, a new campus publication started by UR’s Language Center.
“We wanted to have something that touches the students so that [they] will want to stop and read for five seconds,” said Teresa Valdez, the center’s director. “The minute we have one more language on campus that we offer, we want that language to be included in the Gazette so we can give visibility to students of the foreign languages that we offer on campus.”
This idea came in October as part of an effort to diversify news. Articles are written by both students and faculty.
This month’s Gazette featured six different languages: Italian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and French. It had articles on Halloween in Italy, the weather, soccer in different countries, life on campus, and the Public Market in Rochester.
“I think the format itself is not very serious,” Valdez said. “It’s not heavy. We are talking about whatever [students want], fun and light and made by them. It’s from the heart.”
Some of the last issue’s articles were written by native writers. Others, by those learning a new one.
“The Multilingual Gazette allows students to be able to read as well as write in the language that they are currently studying,” sophomore Sharline Rojo Reyes, a writer for the Gazette, said. “I believe it to be a great way for students to practice understanding the skills they have acquired thus far. Personally, languages are intriguing because it allows you to explore and even get a sense of another culture someone may have not experienced before.”
Data obtained from junior Senator Beatriz Gil, who is leading an international students’ initiative, shows that in April there were over 1,200 international undergraduate students at UR. An official figure was not immediately available.
“This year, we had about 30 percent of freshman and transfer students from different countries,” said Carlotta Gambato, the Language Center’s administrative assistant. “I think it’s a good idea for them to see a multilingual newspaper and find their own language.”
That was why freshman Daiki Nishioka decided to contribute to the paper.
“Because I know that there is a small group of Japanese students here, I was more than happy to help out,” Nishioka said. “My hope is that from this, other students become interested in a language and further look into it.”
Student groups welcomed the idea of the Gazette.
“The University of Rochester is home to an incredibly diverse student body,” said SA Vice President Becca Mooney, who is also president of the Modern Languages and Cultures Council. “Accordingly, it is important that we have a news service that engages the full range of voices on our campus — including those who speak languages other than English. This initiative is a great way to celebrate the cultural, ethnic, and linguistic beauty present at our college, as it builds interest and understanding between students of different backgrounds.”
Sophomore and President of the Slavic Society Tomasz Bazant said that while there might be a boon to students’ interest in learning new languages, “it seems that people who already learn a certain language or are native speakers of that language will select themselves into reading a piece in that language.”
He thought the overall effect on domestic students would be marginal and not worth the cost of printing and distributing the new paper all across campus.
Currently, copies are found in the Language Center (Douglass 305) and on its website.
Valdez plans to publicize the Gazette more next month when it comes out again. With more students reaching out to collaborate on the project, she hopes that everyone will get a taste of different cultures from it.
Correction (11/13/17): The initial version of this story erroneously framed a quote from Bazant. It was correctly shortly after online publication and updated before the print deadline.