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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

University of Florida Bangladeshi Students Association hosts first International Mother Language Day

The UF Bangladeshi Students Association hosted its first International Mother Language Day show on Saturday night.

With help from Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs, the event made its debut at Orange & Brew, featuring 11 performances by UF students. About 100 people attended.

The Bangladeshi Students Association created the event to bring awareness of the globally recognized holiday to Gainesville.

Rubaiyat Zinat, president of the group, said members wanted to show attendees this holiday applies to everyone, not just people who speak Bengali.

The group invited cultural organizations such as the Chinese American Student Association and the Cantonese C Singers to perform.

The Bangladeshi Students Association performed the first dance of the evening after practicing night and day to prepare.

As member of the dance group, 19-year-old Spanish major sophomore Popy Shell said she believes language is important because it opens doors between different people and cultures.

Shell, who was an emcee at the show, is a native speaker of Bengali, an official language of Bangladesh.

She said people are always amazed by her language when she answers a phone call from her mother.

The official date of International Mother Language Day is Feb. 21.

On that day in 1952, a group of college students was murdered for protesting in favor of making Bengali an official language of East Pakistan.The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization made it a holiday in 1999.

The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate all the different languages of the world and commemorate the lives of those students, Zinat said.

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Linguistics senior Sarah Adams, 21, said she's glad UF provides events that demonstrate cultural awareness and hopes to find similar events wherever she goes after graduation.

"It's surprising that the U.S. is overwhelmingly monolingual compared to other countries around the world," she said.

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