With every new school year comes the desire to learn and this University strives to provide students with the best programs imaginable. In particular, there has been an increase in international programs with students experiencing China and Russia through Bolte School partnerships. These new opportunities abroad are examples of Mount Saint Mary’s looking to make a global impact. While I applaud these partnerships, in my opinion, the Mount seems to be missing the mark here. We are a school that is adjacent to Camp David, uniquely positioned just 70 miles from our nation’s capital and hours away from New York, a key international financial center. We have strong connections to multiple federal agencies and have established partnerships across the globe. What we do not have is a language program to truly complement these relationships.
There are many students, like myself, who are International Studies or International Business majors. A requirement for these majors is to complete language studies through a 300 level class. This language directs the region of focus for your studies with emphasis on that region’s culture, politics and economics. The languages currently offered by the Mount are French, German, Italian, Latin and Spanish. These are valuable languages and may work for some, but the variety seems to fall short of what is in demand now. Let’s look at the regions that come across our television news and news links every single day. The Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia. These are areas of threats and crisis; political, moral and financial. What are the languages most commonly spoken these areas? They are Arabic, Russian and Chinese.
I do not question the importance of having a region of focus as part of your studies. Understanding cultural differences and nuances is imperative to diplomacy in all aspects. For example, I have studied Russian for the better part of six years. I can honestly say that it has helped in my understanding of the world. I watch the news with a different perspective. I have studied Russian culture and I understand how it drives Putin. I listen to interviews differently and see how news agencies manage and manipulate the message. My studies have given me insights that I cannot take for granted. Insights that I know will aid me as I pursue a career on the world stage. Unfortunately, the Mount doesn’t offer Russian and I have hit a dead end. Doesn’t it make sense for the Mount to prepare its International Studies and International Business majors for success by giving them the opportunity to study languages such as Russian and, in turn, make them more competitive? Let us dive deeper into more diverse language and culture studies. Give us an opportunity to better understand how and why China influences the global market, what motivates extremists in the Middle East and the implications of Russia’s reach in the Ukraine and Syria. We need to be offering languages that put Mount students at the forefront of international issues – Chinese, Russian and Arabic.