Merrimack Junior Crosses Borders
After watching the documentary “Crossing Borders” at Merrimack last spring, Sumi decided that she wanted to be among the travelers to Spain and Morocco. She quickly signed up for Convivencia, organized by Dr. Lynn McGovern, chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
“Long ago, the Iberian Peninsula was the battleground of conflicts between Christians and Muslims, but it was also emblematic of a past convivencia, when Spain’s three religions peacefully co-existed together and was home to the greatest school of translation in medieval times,” said McGovern. “The Crossing Borders study-travel course is an example of the humanities in action. Students learn about other people and cultures, first-hand, by spending time with Muslim peers, providing opportunities for self-discovery and self-reflection. This inquiry, accompanied by guided discussions, prepares students to translate their enhanced awareness into their own reality when they return to Merrimack College.
Looking back on the Convivencia experience, Sumi’s favorite memory is climbing 34 flights, via ramps, to the top of the Giralda (a bell tower) in Sevilla, Spain. To celebrate, she bought a key chain with the Giralda on it to remind herself that with determination she could do anything! Using a cane or a wheelchair when she got tired, she was able to participate in every group activity on the trip.
At Merrimack, Sumi is a Spanish major with a minor in Political Science/Pre-Law. She is also interested in languages. In Morocco, she stayed with a host family that spoke Arabic, Darija and French. As a first year French student, she practiced as much French as possible and was delighted to be able to converse with her host family.
Sumi enjoyed learning about the culture of Spain and Morocco and about the Muslim families who hosted her stay.
“Traveling to different countries has opened doors for me to practice languages and learn about different cultures through my own eyes,” expressed Sumi.
Besides learning about different religions, history, acceptance of others, and experiencing different cultures, Sumi learned a lot about herself, her determination, her stamina, and the knowledge that with hard work, anything is possible.
“Sumi Krishnan’s rich experiences, her excitement, challenges, and growth, illustrate a new sense of human connectedness,” adds McGovern. “This empathy will forever inform her choices and bit-by-bit empower her to change things that need changing in our complicated world. I invite more students to leap into study abroad.”
A group of ten Merrimack College students, accompanied by Lecturer Mela Heestand and Prof. Saenz de Viguera, from World Languages and Cultures, attended a presentation by Colombian indigenous activist Ligna Pulido at Brandeis University, to countercelebrate Columbus’s Day.
Students will produce better written translations of foreign languages with the help of computer science professor Lisa Michaud’s work on algorithms used in machine translation.