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Drake welcomes society for bilingual students

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A new chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language honors society, was recently established at Drake University. Thanks to the special interest of a group of students and an advisor, the vote to create the new honors society has passed with flying colors.

The purpose of the recently founded group is to provide interested students with an opportunity to interact in their chosen language. It doesn’t matter what language the student is taking or whether he or she is a native English speaker or international student. The group exists solely as a place for students to get recognized for their foreign language achievements.

The creation of Alpha Mu Gamma was more of a grass roots campaign than anything. Christen Bain, Drake’s administrative assistant of world languages and cultures, said that Drake needed a society of some sort where students of all languages could come together to “interact, learn more about other languages and be engaged with the community.” She conducted a brief survey and discovered that students here were interested in being a part of that sort of organization, as well as the leadership positions it offered.

In fact, it was because of the leadership of these ambitious students that the club exists at all. Following the survey, the group of interested students found an advisor and then worked with the Student Life Committee of Student Senate to go about founding their new society.

“As I understand, the process involved filling out the online application with the name and purpose of the group, the list of student leaders and advisor, and submitting a constitution,” Bain said. “After meeting with a Student Senate committee and making a few suggested changes to the constitution, the group was brought up for a vote before Student Senate as a whole and was approved.”

Now that Alpha Mu Gamma has been officially approved, some students are curious what the group will do next. The list of things the students would like to accomplish with their society includes everything from language fairs to service learning in the community to bringing in speakers to talk about how they use language in the workplace. Bain said that she is proud of how the students focused on practicing their languages and on using them in the community. The students also hope to be advocates for study abroad experiences, strongly believing in the benefits of a global education.

“They’re looking forward to hosting internationally focused events and collaborating with other groups,” Bain said.

So why does Drake need a foreign language honors society when it already has numerous multicultural groups like La Fuerza Latina and the South Asia Student Association? While the current multicultural groups on campus are about celebrating different languages and cultures, there had really been no group that celebrates achievement and practice of different languages. Because Alpha Mu Gamma is not limited to one language or cultural background, it is able to emphasize diversity and academics at the same time.

Students interested in joining need to have a strong academic background — the society requires an ‘A’ in two foreign language classes or two English classes for non-native speakers and a ‘B’ average in all other coursework. It’s rigorous, prestigious and only for students who take his or her language seriously and want to commit to practicing it in everyday life. Contact Taylor Harris, the president of Alpha Mu Gamma, if you’re interested in applying.

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