Foreign language clubs recreate cultural experiences online
Italian Club has continue meeting through this semester, and attendance has risen thanks to the new zoom format. Photo courtesy of Italian at Baylor Instagram page.

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

Like many on-campus organizations, foreign language clubs at Baylor now host meetings virtually in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. This has caused club officers to get creative in how they structure their meetings.

Foreign language clubs are typically some of the most popular after-school activities on campus because they allow members to engage in cultural activities and practice language skills outside of the classroom.

For Research Triangle, N.C., senior Paul Piazza, this is the second year of serving as Italian Club president. The Italian Club currently meets bi-weekly at 6 p.m. on Zoom.

Piazza said that over the summer he talked with the club’s adviser, Professor Tiziano Cherubini, to prepare possible modifications to club meetings for the fall. Anxious at first, Piazza said he has been pleased by the number of students participating in the club’s online meetings.

“I was pleasantly surprised that at the first meeting we had a really nice turnout, which I would attribute to the fact that anybody could log in on their phone or on their laptop because we did it via zoom meeting,” Piazza said. “I think the online aspect made it a little bit more accessible.”

Piazza said the downside to hosting online meetings are the occasional technology issues.

“We were watching some short films and we tried to share the screen so that everybody could view the film at the same time, and it definitely went by a lot slower in terms of frame rate, so I think that might have to do with the technology of Zoom,” Piazza said. ”Just certain technical issues like that make it a little bit difficult to share things that normally would be a lot easier if you had, say, a projector screen in a classroom like we’ve done in semesters past.”

With the help of Cherubini, Piazza said he is working on ways to host some of the club’s most popular events they’ve done in the past, like cooking in the North Russell kitchen or playing games outside, such as bocce or soccer.

“We’re trying to see if we can all cook at the same time via Zoom, so we can at least send out like a list of ingredients that are needed and then people can follow Dr. Cherubini making some sort of dish on his own,” Piazza said.

San Antonio junior Anahi Gonzalez, president of Baylor’s French club, Le Cercle Francais, also said she has noticed an increase in attendance by hosting their club meetings on Zoom.

“I think more people are able to attend when they don’t have to physically go to campus in the evening for a club meeting,” Gonzalez said.

This semester, students can expect most of the French club’s usual events to be recreated virtually.

“We have some of the same activities as we normally have in person but just in an online format this semester,” Gonzalez said. “Our events for the rest of the semester can be found on Connect. Coming up, we have a movie night, game night and Halloween night.”

Le Cercle Francais meetings are Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom.

“The French club is a great way to practice your French outside of a classroom and to have some fun while still learning,” Gonzalez said.