Professors pass out pastries at Pan!Demia

FMU’s Modern Languages department hosted a “Pan!Demia Pastries With Modern Languages” event, where professors shared free desserts with over 40 students earlier this week at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, in the Founders Hall breezeway.    

“The purpose of the event was to promote the Modern Languages program and the many benefits of learning a foreign language,” said Wendy Caldwell, professor of Spanish.    

The Modern Languages program offers majors in both Spanish and French. With over 100 students in the program, the professors expect the program to continue growing, especially with the increasing rate of other languages in the United States.    

As students approached the tables, professors spoke with them about the benefits of fostering a professional background in foreign languages.    

“We talked to many students about how to pair their minors or majors with a foreign language, and some of them were surprised to hear how complementary they were,” said Kyrie Miranda, assistant professor of Spanish and French.    

Miranda said learning modern languages is valuable because they teach you how to communicate with people beyond simple translation.    

She also said there are cultural elements to languages that do not often translate through words. However, such nuances give profound meaning to the lifestyle and lived experiences of people.   

“Students often do not realize that Spanish or French can complement many other majors and serve as a fantastic second major,” Caldwell said.    

United States officials from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2019 say only about 15 to 25 percent of Americans can hold a conversation in two or more languages, compared to the approximate 50 percent of Europeans. In addition to this, experts say roughly half of the human race can speak in more than one language.   

Spanish and French are just a couple of the widely-spoken languages in the U.S. aside from English. In the southern parts of the United States, Spanish is spoken more because the southern borders are closer to Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. However, in the northern areas of the country, French is more commonly spoken, as it is primarily spoken in Canada.     

Miranda said her favorite part about the event was getting to meet students and see new faces, as the pandemic limited the people she interacts with outside the classroom. She said it was nice to hear about their experiences at FMU thus far and hoped to spark an interest in them for learning Modern Languages.   

The professors emphasized the financial benefits of adding a second language to one’s repertoire, which could be easily paired with another language.    

“Pan!Demia Pastries stand helped several students expressing interest in majoring or minoring in Spanish after our conversations with them,” Miranda said. “Without the languages we speak today, there would be no understanding of one another, no community, no vibrant storytelling or song traditions. Our human culture is not sustainable without a language of some kind, be it spoken, written or signed.”   

Students interested in pursuing a major or minor in modern languages may contact Rebecca Flaggagan, chair of the Modern Languages department, at for more information and further guidance.