Agirre Center
2020/02/21 13:00:00 GMT+1
One of the characteristics of Columbia University is the great variety of origins of the people who make up the university community -both academics and students- with a great range of cultures that enriches the exchange of ideas in the academic world enormously.

This has made it possible for students and professors of Teachers College, together with the Society for International Education, to reach agreement to represent their respective mother tongues, in an interesting and moving celebration on International Mother Language Day. The event was a simple and very enriching ceremony with a range of personal reflections on the respective mother languages, rounded off with traditional music and dances.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed February 21st as International Mother Language Day in 2007. The aim behind this declaration was to preserve and protect all the languages and dialects that are spoken in the world. The celebration actually began back in 2000, when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, supported the Day in a speech. It was also proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999.

In the ceremony we were privileged to have the presence of Ms. Sameera Uddin from Bangladesh, who made an interesting presentation on "The history of Bangladesh and the Mother Language Day". The celebration of this international day on this date is a tribute to the people of Bangladesh, because in 1952 university students protested in favor of recognition of their mother tongue -Bengali- as one of the national languages of east Pakistan (now Bangladesh). They were set on by the Pakistani Army and many of them were killed, but they remained firm and defended the universal right to express themselves in their own language. Her talk was followed by a few words in Bengali.

The different languages presented, recited and sung included, among many others,  Quechua, Swahili (Tanzania), Saora (India), Igbo (Nigeria) and sign language. Basque was very well represented by a postgraduate student from Teachers College, who said some words in Euskera and then gave details about the language and showed a moving video on the Korrika. Among the reflections made, we would highlight the consideration of Euskera as a model in the revitalization of a language, and this success was related to commitment and efforts made by young people.

Miren Onaindia. New York (Internacional Agirre Program, IAP)