Accommodate Vietnamese Table at Oldenborg Language Lunches

Accommodate Vietnamese Table at Oldenborg Language Lunches

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Kendra Nguyen started this petition to Director of Oldenborg Center Carolina De la Rosa Bustamante and

Full Petition Statement The Oldenborg Language Tables Program hosts language tables where students are invited to converse with native speakers of various non-English languages. After 8 years of hosting the Vietnamese language table without incident, members of the Oldenborg staff, including the Director of Oldenborg, repeatedly surveilled the Vietnamese Table for using English during the Fall 2021 semester. The Vietnamese Table primarily uses English to translate words, to facilitate conversation, and to promote inclusivity amongst all members of the Vietnamese-speaking community at Pomona College. The usage of English is integral for students at the Vietnamese Table to communicate effectively and also encourages beginners and heritage speakers to participate. Despite acknowledging the lack of resources to support underrepresented languages at the Claremont Colleges, the Director of Oldenborg Center refused to compromise on the no-English policy on the premise that it goes against “the spirit of Oldenborg.” After being told that one of the goals of Vietnamese Table was to teach Vietnamese to community members who might not have a Vietnamese community or Vietnamese language learning resources at home, the Director of Oldenborg Center said that they did not believe that it aligned with the goal of the Language Tables. The Director of Oldenborg Center also suggested bringing in an outside language tutor; however, the onus to find the tutor was placed onto the Vietnamese Student Association because the Director did not have the capacity to. As full-time students, members of the Vietnamese Student Association also do not have the capacity to perform such unpaid labor and thus had originally planned to ask the Director of Oldenborg Center to take on the responsibility. The Director of Oldenborg Center then reiterated that Vietnamese Table could stay under the condition that they were separated from the other language tables—this time offering a room in the back of the Oldenborg Dining Hall so that it may be unheard and unseen by the other language tables. Given the Director of Oldenborg Center’s stance, the Vietnamese language mentors no longer felt safe to continue operating within Oldenborg Center.

In order to prioritize the inclusion of underrepresented languages such as Vietnamese Table and future inclusion of other language tables, eliminating reduction of any surveillance of Vietnamese Table, and a safe and institutionally supported environment for language acquisition, we demand that Oldenborg Center take one of the following actions:

A) Amending the Oldenborg policy to allow code-switching and translating for languages that may need to speak English more to facilitate a learning space
B) Provide paid language mentors for languages not taught at the Claremont Colleges if there is demand
C) Creating a program and space that allows for instruction of underrepresented languages with occasional use of English.

We ask that the Oldenborg administration end the surveillance of Vietnamese Table and support the inclusion of all underrepresented groups at Oldenborg.

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