To showcase the University’s Southeast Asian language course offerings, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies is hosting a celebration from April 9 – 13, where Cornell faculty and students can engage in language conversation hours and taste local cuisine.
Cornell offers one of the strongest Southeast Asian programs in the nation, according to Thamora Fishel, director of the Southeast Asia program. This event was motivated by undergraduates’ lack of awareness of the University’s Southeast Asian course offerings.
“We are the place to go for Southeast Asian study, ” Fishel said.
“Cornell has great expertise in this area,” James Nagy, administrative assistant of the Southeast Asia Program told The Sun, “we offer Indonesian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Thai, Khmer, and Burmese”.
The week-long program is taking place in April because many Southeast Asian countries are celebrating their new year this month.
“We’ve decided April is a good time to connect the Southeast Asian groups on campus,” said Fishel, “also this is also the time where students are starting to sign up for courses next year and we want to increase the visibility of these languages on campus.”
Southeast Asian Language Week kicked off with a coffee and tea tasting at Willard Straight Hall on Monday. Students poured Burmese coffee and tea while sharing their experiences in a Southeast Asian language course.
“Khmer is a really beautiful language,” Leighton Cook ’18 said. “We have a small class size so we make quick connection with our classmates and professor.”
The rapid development of Southeast Asian nations currently makes the classes offered “especially valuable,” Cook added.
In addition to the coffee and tea tastings, the week features two traditional cuisine dinners. Becker House and Cook House will be welcoming guests on Tuesday and Thursday night, respectively.
Guests will experience a taste of traditional Southeast Asian cuisine and meet Cornell’s Southeast Asian student groups and language instructors.
Dinner at Becker House on Tuesday night will feature Burmese pickled tea leaf salad, Thai Seafood soup, Filipino chicken adobo, Burmese grilled beef, and more, according to Nagy.
Southeast Asian Language Week also provides opportunities to practice Thai, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Tagalog in casual conversation hours. Thai Fest, organized by the Cornell Thai Student Association, will draw a conclusion to the week of celebration on Sunday.
“I think this is going to be the best Southeast Asian Language Week yet,” Fishel said. “My goal is for all Cornell undergraduates to leave the school knowing that these languages are taught.”
The full listing of Southeast Asian Language Week’s events can be found here.