The influential and diverse city

There is a need to develop programs that interest the surrounding community.

Some language courses offered at the University reflect the uniqueness of the state’s cultural demographics. Languages are brought to the University at the request of academic programs or through popular student and community interest. Some classes already echo the voices of Twin Cities, but languages such as Somali are necessary.

U.S. Department of Education Title XI, which was initiated during the Cold War to train students in languages, provides funding for language programs.

Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu and Hmong (which itself is a true reflection of the Twin Cities), received grants from Title XI after significant community interest. Swahili and Somali might be next on the list. The University initiated work on a Swahili program after students in African American studies expressed disappointment that they were offered studies only in colonial languages, either French or Arabic, but not a study in a native-African tongue. On the other side, Turkish found its way here through the history department’s request to enhance the scholarship of students concentrating on Ottoman history.

The University invests in other languages, such as Ojibwa, Dakota and Korean. The Korean program here is the third largest in the country. Popularity for Korean sparked for many reasons; the most interesting is the number of Korean adoptees living in Minnesota that desired to explore their roots by studying the language.

Investments in language courses prove to be an asset for the global world we live in, but it also provides a chance for many to reclaim their culture. For students whose families have been here for decades, it’s difficult for one to retain their language. Instead of allowing youths who present diverse backgrounds to assimilate completely into mainstream society, it’s worthwhile to invest in language courses.

The fact that we live in a cosmopolitan society with a significant Somali population here conveys the need for the language. Many Somali’s call Minneapolis home, but if Somali American youths cannot pick up the language at home, studying Somali at the University ought to be an option.