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  • John Ryan

“Let the Games Begin! Again!!!” World Language Day Returns to UNC

(Let the Games begin! Opening remarks at UNC World Language Day 2023)

On Thursday, April 13, following a five-year hiatus, University of Northern Colorado’s Department of World Languages and Cultures once again hosted its Annual World Language Day on campus at the University Center. As if a worldwide pandemic wasn’t reason enough to throw a wrench into our annual multilingual celebration for two years in a row, the planets would align to produce an additional three years’ worth of delays with a surprise Colorado snowstorm in one case, an active statewide shooter warning in another (which closed down all Colorado schools for the day), and finally, on yet another occasion, the unfortunate double booking of university facilities.

No such deterrents would stand in the way of this year’s event, at which UNC welcomed some 155 middle and high school students and their language teachers from across the state and Wyoming to participate in a full day of language, talent and art competitions (22 in all) in Spanish, French, German and American Sign Language. After a few same-day cancelations, a total of seven schools participated throughout the day (one of our cancelations was for a poetry competition in Chinese).

One new highlight to this year’s event was the addition of three separate guided tours for students provided throughout the day by the UNC Office of Admissions, to be followed by a free college lunch experience at one of our student dining halls.

(155 students from 7 schools attended UNC World Language Day 2023)

A total of 38 awards, ranging from first, second and third place, were presented to this year’s winners of the competitions. Among this year’s winners for song and dance, Union Colony Prep performed “La Navidad,” a lively percussion, guitar and vocal musical composition. Other competitions included original artwork and piñata contests.

(Ashley Lemke of Union Colony Prep - Piñata competition Ist prize)

(Ajax Seibel of Laramie High School - Spanish Art competition First prize)

Following the teacher luncheon, first place winners of the French and Spanish Song and Dance competitions repeated their winning performances for all World Language Day attendees. Below is a picture of Grand Junction High School’s performance of their rendition of “Aux Champs-Élysées” which won them Ist prize for the French Song and Dance competition.

Two schools, Union Colony Prep of Greeley and Standley Lake High School of Westminster, tied for taking home the most awards with 10 each. This was followed by Laramie High School, Conifer High School and Grand Junction High School, each leaving with six, five and four awards, respectively.

The day was a rewarding experience for both student participants and teachers alike, although it would be untrue to say this year’s event went without its own set of challenges, the most notable of which was an impromptu fire alarm evacuation during the first-place song and dance performances. Nonetheless, even this wrinkle would not prevent festivities to end before our designated time of 2:00 pm and for students to make it safely to their buses to return home. The date set for next year’s event is Friday, April 26, 2024.

The Department of World Languages and Cultures would like to thank the many campus and community volunteers who helped make World Language Day 2023 a success!

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