Dr. Ana María Schwartz Caballero Receives
2014 NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

Dr. Ana María Schwartz Caballero, Associate Professor of Spanish and Second Language Education, was honored with the 2014 NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award at the September 28th Ravens versus Carolina Panthers game at M&T Bank stadium.

The NFL and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) partner every year to recognize the contributions of Hispanic leaders in each NFL market during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15).

Dr. Schwartz Caballero is coordinator of MLLI’s Spanish area and teaches Spanish for heritage Spanish speakers (HSS) courses as well as foreign language pedagogy. Her research and professional activities relate to HSS language teaching and learning strategies and curriculum development. In addition, she serves as President of the Latino/Hispanic Faculty Association and Faculty Advisor for the Hispanic/Latino Student Union and serves in several university committees that focus on underrepresented minority faculty and on Latino student admissions. She is chair of the Baltimore City Hispanic Commission and participated in the State’s Legislative Task Force on the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland. She has been involved in advocacy activities with CASA de Maryland, especially in the passage of the Maryland Dream Act. In 2007 Dr. Schwartz Caballero received the “Legends of Excellence Award: 40 Years of Inspiring African American and Latino Students” from the UMBC African American and Latino Alumni Association.

“I share this award with the members of our Latino community who work so hard to better their lives and who make our state a better place to live; and with my students, whose drive and persistence are my inspiration,” said Schwartz Caballero. She has chosen UMBC’s Esperanza Scholarship Fund to receive a $2,000 grant that came with the award.

Аn Еvening of Russian Culture and Couture

The UMBC Russian Club, with support from the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; the  Russian Center of Culture and Science; and Russian Washington, will present an evening of Russian Culture and Couture on Sunday, December 7th, 5 to 8 PM.  Distinguished performers will join us in promoting cross-cultural understanding through Russian song, cuisine, conversation, and high fashion.

Headlining the evening will be renowned Russian designer Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar.  Luzhina-Salazar has received numerous awards, most recently the Maryland Fashion Award for 2012, and will share highlights from her collections.  Music will include a performance by the UMBC Russian Chorus, directed by Saveliy Liberman, with professor Vira Zhdanovych as soloist.  Award-winning musician Artem Starchenko and vocalist Victoria Sukhareva will perform traditional Russian selections.  Guests will also enjoy a performance by the Lada Children’s Theatre.  Traditional Russian food will be provided by Europe and Gertrude’s. 

Seating is limited to 300 for this timely celebration of the best of Russian culture. For further information, please contact Russian Club president Elena Volosina.

Recent alumnus Ryan Kotowski (B.A. 2013, cum laude,
Applied Linguistics) writes from London

I write to you sitting here at my desk, cup of PG Tips in hand, my gaze shifting from the cloudy, darkening London twilight to the courtyard below bustling with Chinese students aplenty. I should be revising lecture slides on fMRI research methods; however, I, for the sake of your amusement, shall recount my experiences of the last month or so. You might be expecting some inspirational account involving the adventures of experiencing a new culture, the thrill of undertaking an advanced course of study at a prestigious British university, and the myriad of life-enriching experiences. However, as someone who is perpetually unimpressed, such themes will not be present in this current histoire.

I am well into my first term here at University College London completing modules in syntax, statistics, and brain imaging. The staff here are an eccentric bunch, which is to be expected when dealing with linguists. Combine this natural eccentricity with frequent exposure to radiation from various brain scanning devices and it yields some very interesting characters. Needless to say, everybody met their match when I arrived. One of my favourite tricks to pull on my peers is to abruptly switch from my very proper accent to a full-on Baltimore accent and back again as if nothing happened.

The British university system is quite different from the American. It is much more compressed and focused, causing degrees to take less time. Since American universities tend to regard students as profit, it would not be beneficial to have students finish in less time. Also different is the British method of assessment, which favours one final examination or essay. I feel this allows students to demonstrate that they have a full command of all concepts learnt in the course.

During the next few weeks leading up to Christmas break, I hope to begin preparing PhD applications to Queen Mary, University of London, and to Johns Hopkins University. I hope to take on research regarding morphology. I considered research in syntax; however, I doubt what little sanity I have would survive three more years of dealing with Chomskian folly.

UMBC German Students Attend “Germany Means Green
Immersion Day in Washington
, DC

Six upper level German students and faculty member Susanne Sutton attended a German Immersion Day at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., themed “Germany means Green.” The day was supported by a grant from the national American Association of Teachers of German and sponsored by its local chapter and by the Goethe Institute in Washington.  German students from area universities worked along students from local high schools to build solar models and learn about the German recycling system.

Representatives from Volkswagen USA and Baumann Consulting, a German based firm with offices in the US and specializing in high efficiency building, spoke about current energy conservation efforts in their companies and concepts for the future. The language spoken during activities, including lunch and presentations, was German.

On November 2, Dr. Elaine Rusinko received the John Mihalasky Humanitarian Award from the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. According to its description, “The Mihalasky Award honors those who have dedicated themselves to the cause of Rusyn culture, heritage, and humanitarian aid.”

UMBC Students Attend Film Screening at Russian Embassy

On October 2, 2014, a group of UMBC students and faculty set off for the Russian Embassy in Washington. The evening, hosted by the Initiative for Russian Culture (IRC) at American University, included authentic Russian food and a screening of Vsevolod Pudovkin’s The End of Saint Petersburg. The IRC hosted the event at the Embassy in commemoration of the Great War with Pudovkin’s film, which secured his place as one of the pioneers of modern film. When it was released along with Sergei Eisenstein’s October in 1927, this silent classic also memorialized the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by portraying the events of October 1917 as a result of the crisis cause by the First World War.

Throughout the year, the IRC offers screenings of classic Soviet and Russian films followed by discussions led by visiting experts. It also hosts academic conferences, art exhibits, musical performances, and other events at American University, the Embassy of the Russian Federation, and other locations around the Washington area. The IRC seeks to promote greater understanding of Russian culture’s versatility and richness among all students in the Washington area. If you are interested in attending the next film screening or getting involved with the UMBC Russian Club, please contact Elena Volosina or Dan Stonko!
Dan Stonko

Mervat Ali, Global Citizen and Sophomore at UMBC, writes:

I am Mervat Ali, an Egyptian girl from the land of the pyramids and the great Nile, who was born in Arizona, lived in the hot desert of Saudi Arabia for some time, and finally graduated from the German International School Abu Dhabi in the hot desert of the United Arab Emirates. Now I am back in the US to complete my BA with a major in Biology and German.

Why did I travel so much? My parents’ jobs. I am thankful to my parents for giving me the opportunity of not growing up with one culture but a healthy mix of three, even if I didn’t enjoy the company of boxes and duct tape

I was raised in a middle class Egyptian family filled with a sense of humor, a strong family bond and, of course, great food! It is the culture I closely identify with since it’s the culture which influenced me the most.

I attended a German International school (Deutsche Schule) from kindergarten through high school. A lot of my friends are German, which helped me integrate language and traditions into my own. I came in contact with many native German people in my classes, which contributed more to my exposure to the culture than of course studying it in class only.

I am lucky I was able to travel because that way I saw and experienced what I would learn about in school or read about in books. Despite speaking English fluently and watching so many movies that show American literature, history and society, moving here and living at UMBC was definitely a new experience. You learn so much more and get a fuller picture.

I can proudly say that growing up in a Muslim Middle Eastern family at home, a Christian German Culture in School, and now being here at UMBC where I meet interesting people from around the world, helped me discover so many different parts of life and has shaped who I am. I am grateful to have such a multicultural life because I grew up learning four languages, which I know will help me in the future.

Which country is next? I am not sure. I definitely know I want to be a surgeon one day and travel more, maybe eventually settle in a big city. Maybe I will learn Russian. Maybe I will move to New York or Chicago or live in Germany for a few years or maybe I will go back to Abu Dhabi in the Emirates. I don’t know. What I do know is that it doesn’t end here! I want to see more, I want to learn more.

Matthew Dolamore (B.A. 2008, magna cum laude,
MLLI Spanish/Russian two-language track), writes:

Language study has led me stumbling into people’s lives, knocked me to my knees in humility, and enriched my sense of the world, humanity and possibility. Ten years ago this autumn I barely survived SPAN 301. Last week, 2014, I turned page 800 of Cervantes’ Don Quijote and met a new chapter rich in imagination with the realization that I had achieved a freshman impossibility – language acquisition.

The learning path of listening, observation and conversation as a student of language represents as well a decade and a half spent learning to accept and overcome individual vulnerabilities. I owe a great debt to many along the way – unsolicited direction from a Russian cab driver and Afghan war veteran; friendship of Moroccan fishermen in a moment of aloneness; lessons in joy and simplicity from Costa Rican neighbors and banana farmers. Add the layers of supportive belief and guidance shared by each professor at UMBC. Human trust, hospitality and a willingness to celebrate life’s most basic triumphs are those necessary ingredients to successful communication.

Over the summer I stepped back into Baltimore to join the staff at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Immigration detention has become a daily focal point of my professional energies and a new lens through which to consider the conditions of trust, vulnerability and humanity. Men, women and their children arrive at our southern border with a claim to fear – an assertion that to return home would be to place their lives in danger. Each traveler’s story ends in the custody of an armed officer. In searching for refuge they fall into a system of incarceration.

The average age of a child at the Artesia, NM family detention center is six years old. Their legal limbo is a desert landscape interrupted by bland, white walls within the embrace of a chain link fence. Each face is a story. Each smile a branch of hope. Don Quijote would have us believe in the impossible and step forward with faith of self and justice. I choose to take the wise Caballero at his word. Our approach to welcome could use some improvement.

Matthew Dolamore, National Network Coordinator at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Kassel University-to-University Student/Faculty Exchange Program

The German Area has been working with the Department of Mathematics and the International Office at UMBC and faculty and officials of the University of Kassel in Hesse to set up a direct university-to-university exchange program. The memoranda of understanding have been worked out and are ready to be signed. Brigitte May and Susanne Sutton visited the university last summer for meetings with faculty, students, and university officials and were favorably impressed by the enthusiasm and cooperation expressed by all. Ronald Pinkley, who received his degree in German and Russian from MLLI and is presently enrolled as a graduate student in the Education MA program at UMBC, will be the first student to attend Kassel university for a study program in the summer of 2015.

Matthew Kelly, MLLI-German, writes about
DAAD Summer Study in Bremen, Germany

This past summer I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship to study abroad in Bremen, Germany. My scholarship was awarded through the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst—the German Academic Exchange Service), which funded all my course fees as well as housing, and also chipped in some money for my travel expenses. Without the DAAD I certainly would not have been able to participate in what would turn out to be an experience of a lifetime.

Although I was in Germany to study German (I had class every day from 9:00 to 12:30, and my German improved with each day), the experiences that I had outside of the classroom were what made this trip so unique. In a mere four weeks I experienced many different facets of Bremen that I will never forget; tours of Beck’s Beer factory and Weser Stadion (the stadium for Bundesliga soccer club Werder Bremen), a J. S. Bach organ concert in the St. Petri Dom, Breminale (a music festival in the heart of Bremen), and Germany’s winning of their fourth Soccer World Cup title.

All of these events I’ll remember for one reason or another, but certainly the various people I met from all over the world made my experience even better. I met people from Mexico, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Denmark, Spain, Slovenia, Moldova, Taiwan, India, Russia, Ukraine and people from all different parts of the US. It was great to meet people from various walks of life and to learn about more cultures than just Germany.

The space here cannot describe the unbelievable experience I had in Germany. Any student wanting to study in Germany should check out the DAAD scholarship through this link https://www.daad.org/summercourse.

In order to increase its visibility, the German Area is asking majors to visit local high schools to present our program. Our first “ambassador,” Matt Kelly, recently went to Mt. Hebron and filed the following report. His visit was a full success, and he has since been asked to return to talk also to level three and four students.

Mt. Hebron high school is trying to grow its already well-established German program, and my time there I personally believe was well-spent in that pursuit. Being able to speak to the German student body about my personal experiences has enabled me to enjoy the time and effort I put into the German language. One major aspect I focused on was the time I was able to spend in Germany, learning more about the language and culture as a whole. My expanding background in German, with endeavors to have an education certificate and a minor in International Relations, are all great benefits that I felt helped me demonstrate the many qualities that a German program can have on an individual.

Mt. Hebron was amazing; being able to be in front of a classroom where the students not only paid attention to what I had to say, but all seemed interested as well, was a totally new experience, due to the fact that I had only ‘worked’ in middle and elementary schools. It was definitely a new experience for me standing in front of a classroom of high school students, but it was something I felt was important for me to give back and show how pursuing German can have positive impacts on a student’s future, since it has done so much for mine already.

Over the years countless people have had a positive influence on my interest in German and pushed me to continue to go after it. Mt. Hebron was the first opportunity that I saw to give back, and after speaking to the assistant principal and the teacher I was working with, they definitely made it clear how they truly wanted to expand their program and attract more students to start German as a second language. They even wanted to start trying to incorporate the middle school and have a program begin there so the students would have a better idea as they came into high school.  

Mt. Hebron’s future, both middle and high school, is hard to predict. However, I do hope it is positive and will hopefully have UMBC’s support and guidance, especially from the German program. —Matt Kelly

The MLLI Film Festival ran from September to November 2014, screening ten films from eight countries. The Indian film Mumbai Diaries (Kiran Rao, 2010) opened the festival on September 24 to celebrate the introduction of Hindi language courses at UMBC. The Spanish area presented Juan Antonio Bardem’s melodrama Death of a Cyclist (1955), a critique of the 1950s Spanish societyunder Franco’s rule. The second Spanish film, Black Bread (Agustí Villaronga, 2010), is set in the war-ravaged Catalan countryside of the early 1940s. The German area presented the highly acclaimed dramaBarbara (Christian Petzold, 2012), taking place in East Germany during the Cold War Era. The French area screened a captivating popular film Chaos (Coline Serreau, 2001), part comedy and part thriller, providing a sharp critique of the French contemporary society. The second film from the French area, the Canadian drama Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau, 2011), nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, deals with the unlikely connection between a group of middle school students in Montréal and their substitute teacher, an Algerian refugee.

The Japanese area presented Like Father, like Son (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2013), a drama about the responsibilities and dilemmas of parenting. The Korean area screened The Attorney (Woo-seok Yang, 2013), which is based on a true story of Roh Moo-hyun, the ninth president of the Republic of Korea, well known for his human rights activism. The Russian area chose the blockbuster The Admiral (Andrey Kravchuk, 2008), a biopic about Alexander Kolchak, a Vice-Admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy who opposed the Red Army in the Russian Civil War. The festival ended with the second screening of the German area, Lore (Cate Shortland, 2012), which tells the story of five German children at the end of World War II, left to cope with the devastating effect of their parents’ actions.

The film festival was generously sponsored by the MLLI Department, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, and the Interculturalists Graduate Student Organization. —Dr. Nicoleta Bazgan

For MLL Letter deadline and contact information, please see the menu item
MLLI e-Newsletter (under News & Events)