By Sandra Pedersen
“I joined French Honor Society because I love French,” FHS President Mari Nielsen explained. “I’ve always loved the class and I’ve always loved the culture.”
At MIHS, language honor societies are open to students interested in enriching their language learning experience. Currently, MIHS has active chapters for French Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Chinese Honor Society. Members of each society receive a cord during their senior year to wear at graduation.
Dormant at MIHS for several years, Spanish Honor Society was revived this fall by Co-Presidents Madeleine Lee and Sophia Ristuben.
They are working hard to bring attention to the club, starting by planning upcoming meetings, accepting new members and reaching out to organizations for service opportunities.
Lee explained that in the past, many members failed to fulfill Society requirements, so this year she wants to form a more active student base.
“We want people to be more involved again in the Latino community and experience more of that culture,” Ristuben said.
Lee and Ristuben hope to plan more cultural events, such as organizing Spanish movie viewings and going to Spanish restaurants.
Mirroring French Honor Society’s “French Week,” Spanish Honor Society aims to organize a Spanish Week at MIHS, featuring posters, announcements and activities all focused on Spanish culture.
Adviser Evelyn Jimenez sees the club as an opportunity to grasp a better understanding of the language through the culture.
“The biggest amount of students learning languages here is the Spanish students and it’s important that you have a venue outside from the classroom to do activities [related to the culture],” Jimenez explained.
“We didn’t want it to just be [that] you just need to submit hours or mandatory meetings,” Ristuben said. “We want it to be more communal as a club and have more intimate opportunities.”
Similarly, French Honor Society organizes cultural events for its members, planned by Cultural Liaison Phil Zhang. The club attends French dinners, concerts and movie showings at MIHS through a representative at the University of Washington.
This year, FHS members volunteered at Alliance Française’s annual Christmas Market in Seattle, with vendors, Christmas gifts and a choir singing French songs.
“I think [FHS] helps our entire community grow because we expand our horizons and look beyond what we are asked to do for school work,” Nielsen explained. “I think it does a great job in operating culture beyond the walls of our school.”
For Chinese Honor Society, this year is about finding more service opportunities for members. One of the most popular opportunities is weekly tutoring for ELL students, offered by Adviser Zhousu He. CHS members help students navigate language barriers to complete class assignments and homework.
CHS also hopes to engage in activities that go beyond exposing its own members to Chinese culture, but the wider student population as well.
“It’s kind of unique in the way that you apply your Chinese language into your life,” CHS President Albert Lam said. “Generally, we are learning from the textbook, but here we are actually immersing ourselves in the culture. It’s more about application rather than theory.”
“True mastery of the language requires nuances of tone and slang,” Lam said. “Colloquial speaking is all about understanding the culture.”
Language honor societies provide an opportunity to interact with and experience another culture within the school, helping spread cultural awareness at MIHS.