Multilingual cultural relations with a tasty twist
• 1 deputy minister of Education and a deputy mayor of Sofia
• 1 spacious park in the residential centre of the city
• 2 prime-time TV and radio broadcasts on the day and multiple interviews before then
• 8 double stalls and a stage with performances in different languages every 15 min.
• 11 languages represented at stalls and 10+ more through materials
• 13 basic foods each translated into all 11 languages (cucumber, yogurt, oil, tomato, onion, cheese, pepper, rice, mincemeat, egg, flour, sugar, milk)
• 15 EUNIC members and associate partners, including an HR company
• 500+ t-shirts and bags with “I love cooking” in 11 languages
• 1000+ likes on the Facebook page of the event in less than 2 months
• 3000 copies of the multilingual crossword puzzle
• 4000+ people attending
Take a generous amount of languages – at minimum the represented EUNIC centres in your cluster, but experiment freely with those who are either non-EU (the Russian Cultural Centre) or merely represented by an embassy/consulate (Finnish, Norwegian, Croatian).
Add a diverse group of local reputable partners, e.g. the European Commission and the Association of Quality Language Services (part of EQUALS).
Blend in strategic association with the Ministry of Education and Sofia Municipality. The latter will bring out the flavour of mutuality since you’d be seen as supporting the topmost priority of Sofia’s bid to Cultural Capital 2019.
Once these ingredients are in place, an international recruitment agency (Adecco) will come asking for access for they would have spotted the great opportunity, and would be prepared to pay for that, ultimately making it even more cost effective for cultural centres.
You’ve by now chosen your location – which is different from last year and so much more appropriate for it is now within a park surrounded by residential buildings, therefore highly visible. Similarly, you’ve learnt your lesson from the previous year and also changed the day of the event, this time organising it on a Saturday rather than the more leisurely Sunday.
You’ve also seasoned with a common theme – food as a cultural mediator.
Your specially designed Facebook page has warmed up with all the materials you’re regularly posting. Don’t forget to include partners to help in moderating for a better rhythm.
You’ve stirred the media with the announcement and they’re heating up the phone lines with requests for interviews – before and during the event.
At least 4,000 people visited the stands of the EUNIC members and associate partners on Saturday for European Day of Languages in the blazing sunshine of Sofia’s Indian summer. They stopped by each of the eight tents to enquire about classes, learn new words in a range of languages, collect clues for the multilingual crossword puzzle on food-related vocabulary, taste traditional treats some of the cultural centres had provided (Hungarian Gulyásleves, Russian блины) or pick up recipes for Gazpacho, Tiramisù, Bigos, Švestkový koláč, Παπουτσάκια , Soupe à l’oignon.
The British Council were asked to lead on the organisation on behalf of EUNIC, and here is what we found in our inboxes today from the current EUNIC cluster president Jean-Michel Berthe of the Institut français de Bulgarie: “I would like to congratulate the team of British Council for the perfect organization of the Day of Languages. We are very happy because there were many people and especially young people. The choice of Zaimov’s square and Saturday was a good choice!”