Another successful collaboration between the MEITS team and Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum (https://www.cecf.co.uk/) took place on 20 February 2019 at Arbury Court, Cambridge. This community event, celebrating International Mother Language Day, allowed those attending to share ideas on what it means to be multilingual for those living in Cambridge today. Opening this event, Eddie Stadnik, CECF Chief Executive Officer, noted that being different is a strength and that diversity is an important value that should be protected in the current, often challenging, climate. In his welcoming speech, Rory Finnin, of MEITS Strand 1, stressed the value of multilingualism for creativity, mutual understanding and community cohesion.
The opening was followed by the presentation by Joel Chalfen, Lecturer in Drama at the University of Cambridge, of video of part of the Polyphonic performance (https://www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk/events/polyphonic). This unique performance was created using 13 languages and, following its successful debut last year, is set to e be further developed later this year. After the screening three actors who participated in the play, Marina, Babette and Lea, shared their experiences of using body and spoken language within a theatrical setting for the expression of emotions and facing various personal challenges.
The major part of the event was dedicated to the activities of the MEITS Pop-Up Museum: Multilingual Mastermind, Lost in Translation, Just Write it, Right?, and Guess Who! These activities allowed those in attendance to learn interesting facts about various languages, to improve their knowledge of a range of accents and dialects of English, and to discover how some languages have words which are difficult to translate into other languages. Over 35 people attended the event, both from the local Arbury neighbourhood and from other parts of the city. It was particularly pleasing to see such a range of ages, languages and backgrounds represented.