Approximately 180 teenagers from local high schools were bused to Southern Oregon University on Friday to attend World Language Day, a festival celebrating cultural diversity put on by the university's Foreign Languages Department.

Approximately 180 teenagers from local high schools were bused to Southern Oregon University on Friday to attend World Language Day, a festival celebrating cultural diversity put on by the university's Foreign Languages Department.

"It went better than we expected," said Scott Rex, Chair of the Foreign Languages Department. "The students seemed to enjoy learning about languages. We want students to know that there's more than just learning the language — there's also learning the culture."

The festival was divided into different stations manned by SOU students, where high schoolers could learn everything from French folk dancing to Chinese calligraphy.

Paul Oliphant was one of the volunteers at the Spanish table. A senior at SOU, Oliphant entertained passing high school students with traditional South American guitar music.

"I agreed to do this, for one, because it's worth five points of extra credit," said Oliphant. "But I'm also really into the music of South America. It's really fun getting the kids involved in the music and culture of the Andes."

"I think the Foreign Language Department has created a very festival atmosphere," said Jen Yockey, an Education Abroad Advisor with the SOU Office of International Programs. "They've got tamales and food, which just makes it fun for high school students."

Many high school students felt the same way. David Forester, a freshman at Phoenix High School, said he jumped at the chance to visit SOU for the day.

"We had a choice," he said. "I decided to come here and see what the college was like."

"I'm hoping to take Spanish all through high school and into college," said Forester. "It'll help with my future career, I want to be a surgeon. I want to go to Argentina."

"We're in a global market," said Christiana Pyle, a German professor at SOU, "You need to know foreign languages to be competitive. We would like to see students take an interest in foreign languages; not just learning the language but the culture as well."

Nils Holst is a freelance writer in Ashland. Reach him at holstn@students.sou.edu.