Language Education

Mapping the Borderlands, Where Languages and Cultures Coexist

Any exam of existence near international borders yields the expected divisions among nations and languages, but a deeper dive also uncovers evidence of the diffused variations – and similarities – that exist in areas of cultural overlap.
University of Arizona students studying French and Russian, together with their friends in two other counties, are taking a more in-depth look at borderland regions thanks to brand new studies and teaching collaboration that is supported using a furnish from the UA Center for Digital Humanities.
The students are being guided thru an interdisciplinary look at of 3 borderlands areas, Québec-New England, Mexico-Southern Arizona, and Russia-Northern Kazakhstan, with the aid of UA faculty Liudmila Klimanova and Emily Hellmich and their colleagues on the Cégep de Sept-Îles in Québec and Kostanay State University in Kazakhstan.

Mapping the borderlands
“They’re exact locations, borderlands, characterised via a lot of paradoxes,” says Hellmich, an assistant professor of French at the UA. “We talk a lot approximately borders these days. At the identical time, globalisation is making us extra connected; there’s more constructing of borders, each actual and ideological. We wanted to reflect onconsideration on what our students are living and the way these conversations should enhance the mastering of language and culture.”
“When we’ve got cultures rubbing up towards every different, that method creates new varieties of thinking and being. It creates new types of cultures,” says Klimanova, an assistant professor of Russian and Slavic Studies. “We communicate about languages, and we see interesting varieties of bilingualism. There’s no proper or incorrect language. They coexist due to the proximity to each other at the border. That exists on the cultural stage, too.”

The UA college students and their peers all contributed to a virtual mapping platform referred to as “Mapping the Borderlands.” They uploaded pictures, videos and 360-diploma snapshots that showcased specific elements of cultural alternate inside the border areas. The ensuing collaborative map functions geospatially positioned records documenting the lives of borderland youngsters, with categories go-tagged to enable critical evaluation.

“This idea of mapping comes into play because we will see the artefacts of bilingualism and positioned them at the map to reveal how that range performs out in a community,” Klimanova says. “Maps let us see relationships between seen entities, like borders, and invisible entities, like evaluations, language affiliations, political stances and more,” Klimanova says.

“By zooming in on a map and seeing what’s there, students can visually have interaction with a network at a distance. This is an, in reality, awesome learning tool. Students can virtually go to those communities and spot thru 360-diploma imaging what it’s like in that a part of the arena.”
Learning the language, and greater

Though they’re in distinctive departments at the UA, Klimanova and Hellmich have research interests that overlap. Both use digital technology as part of language and way of life education, and each is inquisitive about borderland areas and the coexistence of various styles and cultures inside the corresponding location.
They designed the project to attach students in their lessons with friends in other borderland regions, so college students ought to explore the subject of borderlands collectively at the same time as running on language skills. Klimanova’s college students were a number of the primary foreigners to ever interact with their Kazakhstani peers.

“Being near the border right here in Tucson is lots exceptional than the revel in the students in Kazakhstan have in being next to the border with Russia,” says Evan Rowe, a Russian principal. “For humans right here in the United States, the border with Mexico is a massive topic, but once I talked to a number of the students there, they didn’t sense as they lived next to a border. It honestly helped recognise the similarities and differences between the two cultures.”
The alternate additionally served to highlight the linguistic borders that exist between the students and the porous nature of such limits.

“People face language limitations, and for me, it’s English to Russian. I studied last summertime in Moscow, and I’d struggled to get over that border, but the usage of it an increasing number of on this mission helped me overcome that,” Rowe says. “It changed into a one-of-a-kind way of using our conversational Russian. Instead of speaking me with classmates, wherein we’re all usually at the identical stage, it became in reality first-class to speak to humans whose local language become Russian. The generation gave us the capability to do that.”

In connecting with peers in Canada, a country that borders the USA, Hellmich’s students were able to replicate on other commonalities. But they nevertheless got here away with new perspectives on the diffused ways cultural borders exist alongside real ones.

“We were speaking about the varieties of borders that are right here in Tucson, in which quite a few people are bilingual in English and Spanish, and people in Québec, wherein a variety of humans are bilingual in French and English,” says Leticia Marie Harris, who’s pursuing a double foremost in French and psychology on the UA. “By sharing our language limitations among the two places, we were capable of find similarities.”

Through the course of the elegance, each Klimanova and Hellmich say their college students began to observe borders in specific approaches – countrywide, linguistic, cultural, personal – all of that have the potential for additional exploration.

“We want this virtual humanities pilot venture to grow to be greater public and more global and function an intercultural trade. We’ll look at as many borderlands as we can seize,” Klimanova says. “It’s a crucial issue in the community and a way to look at your network through the eyes of every other perspective. That’s the type of language training we need. The conversations have a motive – to share ideas and discover concepts.”

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