World Language Cafe celebrates diverse cultures with monthly events


Stephanie Solomon

The language department opened the World Language Cafe for students to experience different languages and cultures at Whitman with country-based events each month.

By Zach Poe

The language department opened the World Language Cafe this semester for students to celebrate the diverse language and culture at Whitman with country-based events each month.  

Spanish teacher and language department chair Rebecca Zatz leads and coordinates the events in collaboration with other teachers and student organizers. While the Cafe is open only a few times a month, Zatz believes it is valuable in celebrating the numerous languages represented at Whitman, she said. 

“We realize that we have an incredible language program at Whitman — one of the largest in the county — but it doesn’t necessarily go beyond the classroom or touch students who are heritage or native speakers,” Zatz said. “We wanted a place that honors those linguistic skills and abilities outside of the classroom.”

The department hosted its first Language Cafe event on Feb. 15 in room 304, bringing a new purpose to the former office space. Leading up to the celebration, organizers filled the hallway outside the Cafe with cultural-themed decorations. 

“We started [in February] with the Chinese New Year,” said French teacher Michelle Beach. “The Chinese embassy cooked fabulous full meals for us and we even had a student who was a martial arts specialist do a little demonstration.”

For the Chinese New Year celebration, organizers provided delicious cuisine and aimed to expose attendees to an enriching cultural experience. 

“We had tons of Chinese dishes and snacks, like spring rolls, sesame chicken, lo mein, and cold noodles,” junior Victor Yin said. “There were Chinese riddles hung up on the walls and people could solve them for rewards.”

The Cafe opened again in March with a French soiree, and in April with a Japanese culture celebration. At the Japanese culture event, a representative from the Japanese embassy introduced attendees to the country through a brief presentation before students had the opportunity to make flower arrangements, eat traditional Japanese food or practice calligraphy in the hallway. 

This month, the school’s language department celebrated American Sign Language (ASL) in the Cafe by hosting “A Taste of ASL.” 

Many students have enjoyed the first events and remain excited for the celebrations to come, junior Jacob Youn said. 

“I had a lot of fun,” Youn said. “I’m really excited to experience more cultures, try more unique food and learn about other countries.”