The department of World Languages & Cultures at Allegheny College represents an important cornerstone of the liberal arts experience. WLC provides students with opportunities to express themselves through the attainment of foreign language skills, as well as being enriched with a better understanding of other cultures.
One important component of the foreign language learning experience at Allegheny is the foreign language honor society Phi Sigma Iota, which was founded here in 1922, as the first of about 180 chapters internationally.
According to its mission statement: “The mission of the Society is: the recognition of outstanding accomplishment in the study or teaching of a foreign language; an appreciation for diverse points of view, derived from the knowledge and use of a foreign language; the encouragement of a lifelong commitment to the study and promotion of foreign languages and cultures, and; the pursuit of research in foreign languages and cultures.”
In conjunction with the department of World Languages & Cultures, Phi Sigma Iota is releasing its annual publication, Gator International, which showcases a variety of works from students in languages different from their mother tongue.
“Since being President, I’ve been able to plan a bunch of different events that focus around language and cultural learning,” said Phi Sigma Iota President Megan Swing, ’22. “We were able to bring someone on campus that spoke about growing up in between different cultures, we’ve done different game nights where we brought games in from different cultures, and we did a trivia night to build on people’s knowledge. As president, I’m just trying to enrich everyone’s language and culture learning experience as a student and within the campus community.”
The publication itself has been going on for some time now, at least as long as she has been at Allegheny, Swing said. In her capacity as president, it is her job to collect submissions and compile them for the finished work while also sending them out to the various language professors in the department to vet them for quality and correctness. In the past, there has been quite the variety in submissions, spanning from poetry to people detailing their study abroad and travel experiences in other countries.
Due to COVID-19, many of last year’s works focused on the travel experiences that were canceled and what could have been, according to Swing. She hopes that as the pandemic improves, there will once again be more of a shift towards images and writing detailing experiences abroad in the publication.
Swing is excited by the range of cultures and languages present in this year’s issue.
“So far this year, we’ve gotten a couple from Spanish, a couple from French and one from Chinese,” Swing said. “Since we’re still collecting, we haven’t gotten any from German or Latin yet, but I’m hoping that since we still have another week or so to collect them, we’ll get some more. And just as I’ve been looking, those seem to be the most prevalent ones in the past. In the 2020 edition, there was someone who submitted photos of them signing different words, which I thought was very interesting. We also had someone this year, who submitted a picture of her in South Korea and had a little caption in Korean, which I thought was very unique.”
Swing explained that the most important thing looked for in submissions are the passion and confidence on the part of the submitter. Often, those submissions prove the best work, she said.
“When you’re reading it, you can see someone’s passion and interest in the topic that they’re writing about,” Swing said. “That’s more so when it’s an academic piece, but it can also relate to poetry submissions, when someone’s very passionate and you can see that they poured their heart out into writing a piece of poetry.”
Although the deadline for Gator International submissions is April 15th, Swing said there is some flexibility for late submissions.
Upon publication, print copies of Gator International will be available in Ruter Hall, and digital copies will be available on the publication’s website. Anyone wishing to submit should email their work to Megan Swing at [email protected]