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Middlebury Institute students and faculty offered mini language lessons to hundreds of people who attended the second annual Language Capital of the World Cultural Festival the weekend of May 14-15. The downtown Monterey celebration kicked off on Saturday morning with a large procession down Alvarado Street to Custom House Plaza, with musicians, dancers and other performers showcasing the rich cultural fabric of Monterey.

The festival, a collaboration between the City of Monterey and numerous local organizations and associations, was attended by thousands of people as well as dignitaries from around the world. The festivities were free of charge and included of entertainment such as Bollywood dancing, Korean sound dance, Middle Eastern folk music, Country Western line dancing and Punjabi dance, and American, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Middle Eastern food was offered for sale. Institute representatives included Renée Jourdenais, dean of the Graduate School of Interpretation, Translation, and Language Education, assistant dean Patricia Szasz, faculty members Holly Mikkelson, Rana Issa, and Pablo Oliva, and numerous students and volunteers.

“At the Institute, we believe that understanding other languages and cultures makes you that much more effective in your international careers and we’re enthusiastic about sharing our love for languages with others,” said Dean Jourdenais. “The feedback we get from festival participants is motivating. This year, people were particularly excited about having the opportunity to learn a little bit of a new language, as we offered language lessons throughout the weekend. We’re looking forward to expanding that next year!”

The governor of California first honored Monterey with a proclamation declaring it the “Language Capital of the World” back in the 1990s. The city is home to institutions for language teaching and learning such as the Defense Language Institute, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Middlebury Institute, in addition to several well-established language services companies. Two years ago, the Monterey County Business Council helped secure a trademark on this term for whole county.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir