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Arts

Is Bill 96 relevant in Montreal: What do polyglots at Mundo Lingo think?

Third and fourth-language speakers talk about learning French at the famous Mundo Lingo meetup

Mundo Lingo is an international project that promotes language exchange operating on four continents and thrives to make language learning accessible to all. The project was founded in 2011 by Benji Moreira, and the first event happened in Buenos Aires. Moreira wanted to organize a space where locals could practice foreign languages, and foreigners could practice Spanish; this eventually became a global event where people are welcome to practice any language. 

People that attend Mundo Lingo meetups come from all walks of life, old and young, international and local; they all come for one purpose: to discuss the languages they are learning and help people that are learning their own. 

Each participant is given sticker flags for the respective languages they speak and want to practice, to signal to other people which languages can be spoken in their interactions.

Several Mundo Lingo enthusiasts spoke about their opinions on Bill 96 which imposes the speaking of French in the workplace among other things. 

Courtesy of MUNDO LINGO

David Tousseau, an ambassador at Mundo Lingo who speaks French, English, Kinyarwanda, Spanish and Gaelic, says that as a university researcher, “linguistically I am not very involved politically,” and admitted to not really caring about Bill 96. He speaks these languages for patrimonial value, family relations and general interest. 

Others like Argentinian Joaquim Marubio, who speaks Spanish, English, and a bit of French, spoke against Bill 96. 

“Let me tell you something, Canada is part of a British Commonwealth, it belongs to Our Majesty, so we better speak English. Quebec is part of Canada, people need to speak English, it belongs to Our Majesty!” 

Marubio continued to praise the King and said that imposing French was ironic with regards to Quebec’s ties with the Commonwealth. 

Anthony Gagné, originally from Quebec, had opposite views to his friend Marubio.  He comes to Mundo Lingo to socialize and practice his languages. He speaks French, English, Italian and Portuguese, and is learning Chinese. 

“I think it’s a good law, we need to protect the language.” He says Montreal is a perfect example of a place where this law needs to exist. “There are two cultures, Bill 96 creates controversy, it’s taboo to talk about it, but we need to address it.” 

He added that “the province of Quebec runs Montreal and that makes for a rather interesting phenomenon,” referring to the recent elections, of a majority government not representing Montreal voters. 

He continued, “here it is sure that you will meet people that their French is a third, fourth language, but in everyday life there are not so many, but I really understand linguistically that French is complex, more complex than the other Romance languages” 

Two women speaking in Spanish stated that they really appreciated being there, because everyone was so friendly, and it allowed them to practice French without shame. They said that in their workplaces they did not feel comfortable practicing their French because they only speak a bit of it. 

Whether it be in language circles or the streets of Montreal, there is a lot of divide on questions of language protection and Bill 96 more specifically. What is certain is Mundo Lingo provides a space where people can share in any language they desire without fear of being shamed for having an accent. 

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Student Life

An exchange student begins her first business: Roma Experiences

Concordia alumna, TingLi Lorigiano shares her travel exchange journey

Travelling across Europe, going on student exchange, learning a new language and starting a business all sound like goals many students have on their bucket list. One student not only managed to accomplish all these thing, but she did it in just one year.

Concordia alumna TingLi Lorigiano embarked on a year-long student exchange to Italy, during which time she also visited 30 cities in 10 countries. During her stay in Italy, Lorigiano founded Roma Experiences, the first Chinese tour operator service in Rome.

Mountains in the northern part of Italy at Bolzano-Trentino Alto Adige. Photo by TingLi Lorigiano

“I was at the Colosseum in Rome, and I realised that there weren’t any Chinese tour groups,” she said. “So, I inquired what the situation was like, and I decided that I would just start my own.”

Lorigiano is of Italian and Chinese descent and grew up immersed in both cultures. “I grew up with serious Chinese traditions and very traditional Italian traditions. I always had to explain Italian traditions to my Chinese friends and vice versa,” she said. “I felt that it’s important for Chinese visitors to learn about Italian traditions, so I wanted to help them learn about Italian culture.”

According to Lorigiano, no one working in the piazza of the Colosseum spoke Chinese—most were European. “There was a language barrier,” she said. “I connected the two worlds.” Lorigiano speaks fluent Mandarin and was learning to speak Italian at that time. She is now fluent in Italian.

Pasta at Osteria Da Fortunata in Rome, Italy. Photo by TingLi Lorigiano

She started by organizing tours where she would bring Chinese tourists to various restaurants and to visit historical sites such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.

With a major in genetic engineering and experience in the tech industry, Lorigiano had no problem setting up her own website and logistics for her business. After creating all the social media accounts, she hired 10 people to be part of her team. “I raised a team from one to 10 in my first three months in a country that I’ve never worked in before, and I didn’t yet speak fluent Italian. I hired tour guides and team promoters. We delivered wonderful historical experiences to Chinese tourists at least three times a day,” she said. “I had to be very meticulous with logistics. I had to buy tickets ahead of time, I had to know how the Colosseum ticketing system worked.”

According to Lorigiano, Roma Experiences has been running for the last eight months and has generated $40,000 CAD in sales revenue. “I was able to sustain myself for the last seven months in Italy. I used the money to travel, pay my rent, live in Rome,” she said.

The business is still running now that Lorigiano is home. The company’s vice-president took over the company. “It’s pretty cool to know that, before this year, in Rome, there were no Chinese tours available. And now they are,” Lorigiano said.

Creating Roma Experiences was an enriching leadership experience for Lorigiano. “It taught me a lot about business, and it showed me that my passions are not in tourism. My passion is in tech. I was way more interested in the website, e-commerce and the retail technology part of it.”

Camels in the Marrakech Morocco desert. Photo by TingLi Lorigiano

In November, Lorigiano is moving to London to work for a tech startup. “I knew that I wanted to work somewhere where the tech scene was more apparent, more vivid and vibrant, so London was the best choice for me,” she said.

Based on her experience, Lorigiano insisted that studying abroad can be life-changing. “You never know what is going to happen,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to go on exchange […] People grow up in Montreal, they work in Montreal, but there are so many other opportunities. Being Canadian, you have great visa opportunities as well.”

Lorigiano said she would advise students to check out all the job, volunteer and internship opportunities offered at Concordia to see what might interest them. “Make a list of things that you think are really important, and just highlight what you want to go visit or inquire about,” she said. “You need to think about what you are losing and what you are gaining.”

“You grow the most when you are put in the most uncomfortable situations such as travelling and being part of things that you are not comfortable with,” Lorigiano said. “It’s just a really great experience.”  

Photos courtesy of TingLi Lorigiano

Categories
Opinions

Letters from abroad: Chicago

Flickr photo by hearkencreative

Greetings from Chi-town! It’s the city where sporting black hair is a sign that you’re Brazilian! No seriously, I have never been asked so many times in my life if my ‘funny accent’ is Brazilian, which by the way, it isn’t.

The moment I stepped off the plane, I got the foreigner stare. People here seem to know right away when Chicago is not your home. They find it really entertaining to ask you to say something in French when they find out that you’re Canadian (I don’t find it entertaining), because apparently you aren’t Canadian if you don’t speak it. Once you crack and say something, they respond with ‘ou la la!’ which apparently is their way of telling you they know how to speak French too.

Besides their annoying demands that you speak French, everyone here in the city and at Loyola University Chicago is pretty nice. It’s funny though, because I never understood those articles that name Canadians as some of the friendliest people until I moved to the United States. People are nice, but they don’t want to be bothered.

The vibe is just very different here. The competition is obvious to an outsider like me who back home would rather help my peers succeed than see them fail.  Not to say that competition is a bad thing, it’s actually a great thing if the reasoning behind it is positive.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.” Photo by Marilyn Santucci.

The school itself is just a world of its own. The journalism program here is pretty popular and like at Concordia, has its own J-School building. The broadcast studio has windows around three of its walls, so those outside of the building can see and hear what is being broadcasted. Many of the professors are known journalists who are recognized not only locally and nationally, but internationally as well. It’s thrilling to be around so many people who have the same dreams and aspirations that you do.

Downtown Chicago is just a masterpiece. I have travelled to many places, but something about this city sends shivers down my spine every time I step onto its streets. You discover something new about the city everyday. Magnificent Mile truly is magnificent. The architecture, restaurants, shopping and parks are unique, and nothing short of great. I literally got lost for four hours in Millennium Park the other day, and it turned out to be the best day I have had here so far. It’s very difficult to put into words how beautiful the city is, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.”

I truly do love and miss Montreal, but right now, Chicago isn’t doing such a bad job of stepping in as my temporary home.

Currently on exchange or heading off in Winter 2014? Interested in taking part in “Letters from abroad?” Let us know! Email: opinions@theconcordian.com

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