By Nyesha Stone
Richness and diversity are what Milwaukee Public Schools’ students embody. According to MPS, 80 languages are spoken by MPS students and families, so, it only makes sense to celebrate the diversity and importance of every language.
Last Saturday, MPS hosted its first Language Summit that highlighted the benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism—knowing two or more languages.
A variety of MPS schools gathered at Milwaukee School of Languages’ dynamism providing information about their school and how language plays a role in it to students and families.
Throughout the day, remarks were made, students gave cultural performances by the students on stage and a few breakout sessions were all available from 11 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Rufus King International High School was one of the schools in attendance. Spanish teachers, Hilda Rocha and Pamela Davis, said learning a new language is it important, but it’s getting to know the culture that counts the most.
By understanding someone’s culture you can then understand people and their perspectives better, said Rocha.
“It’s crucial life skills to be able relate to other people,” Rocha said about the importance of learning another language.
Davis said you must respect everyone’s language. She explained that it’s okay to adapt other people’s culture into your own, but in a respectful way. When adapting someone’s culture, you have to be careful, if it goes too far it can be considered culture appropriation. Since America is called the “melting pot,” we should all be finding ways to connect with one another, and language is that way, said Davis.
Juan Baez, Director of MPS Black and Latino Male Achievement department, put together the summit.
Baez gave a few remarks before the performance of the day by Milwaukee German Immersion School.
“We truly stand on the shoulders of giants,” Baez said about those who came before us and fought for bilingualism.
Baez said there are talks and efforts being made to create more dual-language schools within MPS.
Lauren McKinney teaches deaf and hard of hearing students at Milwaukee Sign Language School.
McKinney said diversity is a huge thing in MPS and this is just one of their many initiatives that shows that.
“Every student deserves access to get what they need to be successful,” said McKinney and sometimes language can be that barrier to that access.
To find out more about Milwaukee Public Schools and all that they offer visit http://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/home.htm