10th Language and Culture Week: Celebrating Diversity on Campus
The 10th Language and Culture week, held from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, once again emphasized on the diversity on campus and promoted multicultural tolerance understanding in AUBG. The special note in this year’s event, however, was brought by the second anniversary of the Modern Languages and Cultures minor.
Each year, the Languages sub-department chooses a different topic which promotes the cultural heritage of the nations. Some of the previous themes included holidays, music, myths as each night was dedicated to a separate country. This years’ focus was on the unique traits of each nation as well as some cultural differences. It also emphasized on the translation of literary texts and the challenges connected with it. For a third year, the Language Week was also united and combined all languages together each night. “In this way all language instructors can join forces and also attract students who are interested in the various languages,” shared Diana Stantcheva, Associate Professor in German Language at AUBG.
During the first evening, Feb. 14, AUBG students gathered in BAC to watch the screening of the movie “The Terminal”. The second event continued on the next day, Feb. 15, with a discussion in Panitza Library with four translators, who devoted a big part of their lives for translating foreign works into Bulgarian and also popularizing Bulgarian literature abroad.
A professional literary translator, musician, and linguist, Angela Rodel was one of the invited translators. Her translation of Georgi Gospodinov’s novel The Physics of Sorrow, which came out in 2015, won the award for best translated novel in the US. Another guest was Aleko Dyankov, a journalist who has been translating fiction, plays, and journalistic material from German to Bulgarian for the past 20 years. Among the attendees were also Krassimir Kavaldjiev, a Bulgarian translator working on French, English, and Russian texts, and Vladimir Levchev, Assistant Professor in the Arts, Languages, and Literature Department. Levchev has translated the works of T.S. Eliot, Allen Ginsberg, and others.
During the discussion, the main challenges that the translators are facing were brought up. Apart from dialectal variations, they pointed out cultural context and cultural differences as the biggest causes of trouble. The speakers concluded that some words in a language can be almost impossible to translate exactly in a different language. The guests also discussed the texts that they prefer translating, the tools that help them with their work as well as some personal stories connected to their profession.
“I enjoyed the event enormously, I find the job of working with languages fascinating,” said Iulita Osichenko, a fourth-year student, learning French at AUBG. “It really showed the behind-the-scenes of translating, and I didn’t expect to hear so many interesting personal stories, and actual events and translating puzzles from the speaker’s careers. It was wonderful to hear them talk about their job with such dedication, and passion – and you could see they really wanted to share their love of the profession, and all the ups and downs that go with it,” she then added.
Stantcheva further explained that the Language department is thinking of introducing courses connected with the literature of the languages that are taught at AUBG. “This was an occasion where we could present to the students what it means to work not only with the language but also with the literature of this language,” she disclosed.
Denitsa Mitsova, a fourth-year student learning German at AUBG, and one of the facilitators of the event said that she would enjoy having such courses. “There is a lot of great literature to be explored from these countries and we aren’t exposed to it all that often, so if it were to be incorporated into our language studies somehow that would be awesome,” Mitsova noted.
For the third event on Feb. 16, the students were invited to participate in a culture map workshop in the ABF student center. The game was to create a map representing the culture of either Bulgaria, Germany, France, or Spain, thus showing emblematic symbols of the country – customs, traditions, everyday lifestyle, and gastronomy. After voting, the most creative projects, received prizes. “We saw a lot of amazing creations, the children from the local language high school got involved and everyone had a lot of fun,” commented Mitsova.