Today, students and faculty on academic campuses are connecting with peers all over the globe. The world of academia is flat: from study abroad programs to partnering with sister campuses overseas, the boundaries between nations are being constantly crossed and new connections between cultures are being made every day.
With the library as the go-to place for all things learning, it’s a prime place for students to connect with the world. Whether they are seeking to become fluent in their fourth language or just looking to learn a bit more about another culture, you have the power to make that happen.
Here are a few ways you can put your library at the center of cross-culture conversations.
Host cultural-learning seminars.
Think about partnering with language departments on campus to host language and culture seminars. Wouldn’t you love to hear more about Taiwan from the Mandarin Chinese professor who’s written four books on the Chinese history? Ask professors to share their own stories of how culture-learning has opened their eyes to something new or shifted their mindset. To boost interest even more, provide some local food from the region! College students will come running.
If your university has connections with schools abroad, you could do a Skype or Google Hangout with a professor or class overseas and cover topics ranging from ecology in Costa Rica to the changing political landscape in India. These seminars can provide students of all levels and areas of study the opportunity to learn about and engage with a new culture all within your library’s walls.
Sponsor a modern pen pal program.
Learning a language can feel lonely at times, especially for those students looking to become fluent. Your library has the opportunity to set up relationships with students on campus and across the globe. Building a modern day pen pal or language learning network through your institution's international sister campuses and study abroad programs gives your students so many more opportunities to connect, practice their language skills and learn about culture. Encourage students to connect over Skype to talk face-to-face or over email to practice their writing skills. For your students, having a peer who fluently speaks the language will not only build critical language learning skills, but will also provide a window into everyday life abroad.
Provide the resources.
Like we’ve talked about previously, keeping your library relevant all starts with the resources you provide your students. For example, if students are hoping to connect with another student at your sister campus in Berlin, consider investing in computers with webcams. Also, consider investing in self-guide language and culture learning programs (can we suggest Mango Languages?) Mango focuses on conversation-based learning and uses authentic, culture-packed films to help language learners begin speaking with their foreign friends right away. It’s also available online and on-the-go with Mango’s iPhone and iPad apps.
What other ways does your library connect students with the world to enhance their learning?
Think your library is on the cutting-edge? Time to find out! Take Mango Language’s Quiz to see if you are up to snuff on academic innovation.