Indiana University’s Center for the Study of Global Change has received the 2014 Paul Simon Award for the Promotion of Language and International Studies. The award, created in 1982, is named for the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon who supported international education and foreign language learning.
It was given specifically to the project called “Bridges: Children, Languages, World,” which offers exploratory language and culture classes such as Arabic, Chinese, Mongolian, Russian, and Zulu. Deborah Hutton, assistant director at the Center for the Study of Global Change, says the award really belongs to their many partners across campus.
“It isn’t just for the global center to brag on it,” Hutton says, “It’s hard for people outside to differentiate the partners but we do run it and we put it on our grant.”
Bridges classes are taught by undergraduate students at IU. The project’s mission is to expose youth to less-commonly taught languages while also helping those who serve as instructors and volunteers gain professional experience.
“We added a language coordinator grad student who helps the volunteer instructors with their lessons,” Hutton says, “This is a good idea and we can even switch things around and she can help the students themselves.”
The project is run by the donation of classroom facilities and materials, and the granting of work-study money and course credit. Hutton says the project gives people in Bloomington a unique and important learning opportunity.
“We’re so proud of what an unusual, large partnership this is to make it work,” Hutton says, “And our students are studying Chinese so well and they are excited and not intimidated by these languages and cultures.”
The Center for the Study of Global Change is one of eleven federally funded Title VI area studies centers in the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington.