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'Ambassadors to the world': CLV, Klobuchar celebrate International Day

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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at Concordia Language Villages’ International Day on Friday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer) 3 / 4
Campers give a fencing demonstration at Concordia Language Villages’ International Day on Friday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer) 4 / 4

TURTLE RIVER—It took a village to corral 1,300 campers into the Waldsee area of the Concordia language camps Friday afternoon.

Students from the 11 language villages danced and sang at the center of the German camp, celebrating Concordia Language Villages' second International Day of the summer. Cultures mixed as campers and their families enjoyed German snacks and Arabic offerings, while others chatted in French and Spanish.

Even U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stopped by the villages to celebrate the capstone of the summer language-immersion camps as part of a two-day jaunt through northwest Minnesota.

"It's really just a time for the kids to get to know each other, exchange the things that they learn in their own camps, so it's just a really good time," said Amelia Everson, Concordia's logistics coordinator for International Day. "It's just truly a time for them to explain to someone else about their language."

Everson said she hopes Klobuchar's visit shows the kids that their involvement in the camp is supported by Minnesota politicians.

"I would really want them to see that they have representatives representing their state who are encouraging them that, yep, learning another language is important, why it's important and then sharing things across different cultures," Everson said. "I think in the world that we live in it's always good to learn about other cultures and their traditions."

During the closing program, each of the 11 language villages—Arabic, Korean, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Russian, French language, French Voyageurs, Spanish, Swedish and German—puts on a performance revolving around the year's theme. The camps' 2018 theme was "Courage."

The students teach each other games, play in a "World Cup" and participate in a global summit, in which they solve a world issue. Parents, grandparents and siblings went back and forth on a shuttle bus during the day, seeing where their children spent the past weeks and discovering what they learned.

Klobuchar, who spoke to the campers and visitors, encouraged the teens to appreciate the diversity promoted by CLV. Her 23-year-old daughter, Abigail, participated in the villages as a teen.

"One of the things I love about your generation...is that all these studies have shown that you are the most diverse generation we've ever had in the United State of America," Klobuchar said. "This idea that you're willing to learn another language and learn about another culture is more than just what it means for you. It's going to be what it means for our whole community and our whole nation."

At Concordia, campers don't just take language classes. They become immersed in the culture they choose to study, taking a new name, getting a Village passport and giving up all personal electronics.

Most important, instructors and camp counselors speak only the Village's chosen language, pushing the students out of their comfort zones.

"What's great about Concordia language camp is yes, you learn a language, but you also learn about a culture," Klobuchar said. "These students are going to be ambassadors to the world for us, and they do that by coming to a place like this."

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or gpastoor@bemidjipioneer.com

(218) 333-9796
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