MMLA Graduation: Reflecting on an Incredible Summer of Language Learning
The final night here at MMLA 2014 was one of mixed emotions. While we were all incredibly proud and excited to see our students receive their diplomas marking the end of a long and challenging commitment to staying in language, the end of the program is bittersweet. We will say goodbye to the friends that have made thisprocess not only bearable, but also wonderful and unforgettable. Listening to our student speaker, August, it became very clear that Spanish was not the only thing learned or gained from this experience. Our students have learned valuable life lessons about how to persevere, how to create meaningful relationships and work with others and what exactly language learning can do for an individual and a community. As August said (en Espanol), “through learning a language we gain the capacity to create a fuller and more accurate picture of the world. Languages open door to different perspectives, and so language learning is a valuable step in making the world a better place.”
As the students enjoyed their final dance (where they were finally allowed to speak English and intermingle with students from other academies), it was amazing to see the change in the community that had occurred between the first day and the last. A group of shy strangers arrived at Green Mountain College on June 22, and an exuberant, confident community celebrated their triumph tonight, and will say their goodbyes tomorrow.
-Julia, Spanish RA
July 16, 2014 was a very special day for everyone in the German Academy at Green Mountain College from office staff to teaching staff to residential life staff and to students. July 16 marked the day that the Language Pledge® was finally lifted and each student was able to see the fruits of their labor realized through a very moving graduation ceremony.
For the German Academy, the day began like any other. Students woke up, went to class, to lunch and a few even went back to lunch. In the afternoon, students packed up their things, cleaned their rooms and assisted in cleaning the common areas. Instead of free time, students had the opportunity to call home, and then proceed onto their last GMC dinner and final ice cream scoops. From there, students proceeded onto the graduation ceremony in Ackley Hall, where each Language Academy had their director and a student speak about the holistic academy experience. The German Academy student speakers were Kalista Young and Simon Oster. Their speech, which discussed metaphors we could liken the MMLA program and Language Pledge® to, was both very funny and heart-warming. Following the speeches, the students were given their diplomas and the Language Pledge® was officially lifted. Now the festivities could begin!
Following the graduation ceremony, students attended a dance/movie/hang-out night in Withey Hall, where they were finally able to interact with students of different activities while speaking in English. DJ’s Tuttifrutti and Savage provided us with some stellar tunes, while the GMC catering staff made sure we would be able to eat our favorite snacks. The evening activity was followed by informational meetings within the dorm living groups and some last Chillzeit with some very good friends.
Thanks for being with us all summer. The entire German Academy staff has been blown away by not only the language abilities of these very talented students, but also with how motivated, funny and caring they are. Our family is klein aber sehr fein.
See you next year!
-Hannah, German DH
Today marked the students’ last day at MMLA and their last day in the target language. At morning assembly, we commemorated the top 10 memories of MMLA, including the storm, the Expo, and le nain (the garden gnome), who was the French Academy’s mascot. The lastassembléedumatin closed out with a slide show of photos compiled by the staff and students. The photos highlighted student adventures inside and outside the classroom.
After a busy morning of course wrap up in cours de langue, our students piled back into the Gorge. The teachers and RAs had prepared a special song about MMLA for the students and the surprise was greatly enjoyed by all. In the afternoon, students packed their suitcases and prepared for the final ceremony and dance.
The final ceremony truly showed the spirit of the Académie Française of 2014. Student Madeleine Bourget gave a beautiful speech about language learning, in which she highlighted how much we learn about ourselves when we immerse ourselves in another culture and language. Language director Marty applauded the progress that all our students have made and recognized the challenges the students overcame. Likewise, students and language directors from the Chinese, Spanish and German academies gave heart-warming speeches about the MMLA experience. As an individual that understands three out of four of the languages at GMC, it was incredibly inspiring to listen to the eloquent speeches of the students in their target-language. Not only did each student speak with extreme poise, but they also spoke with beautiful accents. Each student speaker highlighted different aspects of the MMLA program, but they all mentioned the importance of learning another language to change the world and to become a better rounded individual. When site director Lincoln lifted the Language Pledge® at the end of the ceremony, students were still brimming with pride for the progress they had made in the target language.
After the inspiring language ceremony, students from all academies poured into Withey Hall. Speaking English amongst themselves, the students were able to compare experiences across academies whilst dancing the night away, enjoying refreshments and/or watching a movie.
As a 2009 MMLA French alumna, I know that these students have formed lasting friendships. Although students would make friends no matter what they did with their summers, the lasting bond created by MMLA is different. We stay friends with our language-learning fellows because we’ve been through the immersion experience together, and have thus created our own creole-pidgin of the language and our own micro-culture that could never be replicated with any other group of students. MMLA creates individuals that are willing to take steps out of their comfort zone to speak in the target language. The bond created by this experience can be seen each year as MMLA alum like Matt Bernobich, MacKenzie Turnbull, and myself come back to MMLA as staff members. I have no doubt that the French Academy of 2014 will remain close and continue to take great leaps in language learning. Merci for an excellent summer!
-Natalie, French Academy