VIA@MU, based in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Marquette University, facilitates collaborative, student-to-student learning in a multicultural and multinational setting through the use of videoconferencing. The project specifically addresses the department’s vision of promoting an understanding of the cultures and traditions which make up the fabric of our own society, as well as its goal of providing opportunities for successful communication in other languages.
Studies in language acquisition indicate that people acquire languages rather than learn them, yet until recently the only immersion encouraged in foreign language programs was that of studying abroad. The VIA program started in 2008 as a small, ground-up project to provide another resource for acquiring languages, but has grown to be a departmental program in which hundreds of Marquette students participate each semester in their French, Spanish, Arabic, and Italian classes. These language and culture exchanges occur between members of the Marquette community and the international academic community through partnerships cultivated by the Program Director. Opportunities are then created for students to reflect upon these cross-cultural dialogues and relationships. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the program further solidified its relationship with the network of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and its Latin-American counterpart (AUSJAL). These groups make fitting partners for VIA as they have placed an emphasis on exploring themes of universality and commonalities while addressing our differing perspectives, a vision that is well-aligned with that of the program, the department and the University.