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UMKC kicks off monthly celebration of world cultures

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures will be dedicating each month to a different country as a way to expose students to diverse cultures around the world.

The objectives of this initiative are to raise awareness of other cultures, promote study abroad and exhibit scholarly work done on the international level in topics such as economics and sociology. 

“We want students to feel that contact with all cultures here at school,” said Alberto Villamandos, Spanish professor and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures.

Through cultural events, guest speakers and the newly added international studies minor, the department is hoping to achieve all of their objectives.

“The goal is to show students that they can and are able to connect with any culture,” Villamandos said. “We want to encourage and support study abroad and provide more opportunities to our minority students.”

Colombia was February’s topic to kick-off the initiative. The department organized events to showcase Colombian culture through politics, poetry, music and dance. 

In one event, the Colombia Cultural Association MO-KAN, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the values and cultures among Colombians in Kansas City, put on “A Dance and Music Celebration” at the Jazzman’s cafe. 

The Colombia Cultural Association performed a variety of songs, including “Yo me llamo Cumbia.” Orlando Gutierrez, the organization’s president, talked about Cumbia, which is a folkloric genre and dance that has indenginous, African and European roots. 

With many students and faculty in attendance, more chairs had to be brought out due to a higher turn-out than expected. 

Pre-pharmacy student Joseph Choi says he wanted to indulge himself in the Latino culture. 

“This is pure culture, and it’s nice to see it,” Choi said. “It’s interesting and very different. You don’t get to hear it too much, so it’s refreshing.”

Although the celebration of Colombia is over, students can look forward to March, which will celebrate Senegal, followed by Germany in April. 

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