The International Mother Language Day is observed worldwide on 21 February. For that reason in the evening of 20 February people of seven nationalities gathered to celebrate this day informally at the Information Centre for Newcomers (ICN) on Lacplesa Street 75 – 1B. They discovered that all of them together know 10 different languages! The purpose of the International Mother Language Day is to promote awareness of the role and place of the mother language in preserving linguistic diversity worldwide, to facilitate use of the mother language and increase awareness that the mother language is the foundation for the development of a strong and multi-faceted personality.
„It is no secret that a person can tell others about him or herself most emotionally in his or her mother tongue! However, there is always the question — will others understand them?” shares her thoughts volunteer coordinator Ramona Liepina (Ramona Liepiņa). „Participants of the event were very surprised that they were presented with an opportunity to express themselves in their mother language, because we are used to employing a common language, mostly English, for cooperation purposes. We understood each other from similar sounding words, smiles, friendly handshakes and by listening carefully to each other! The most popular word/phrase of the evening we put the greatest emphasis on was "Thank you!". The participants could discover, how to say it in 51 languages during the evening by means of various interactive games!”
She also tells that the map of the world attached to the wall attracted a lot of attention throughout the evening, because everyone had an opportunity to show their birthplace, their Homeland — Latvia, America, Eritrea, the Caribbean, Germany, Afghanistan and Syria! „We also sang, which has already become a tradition at our events! This time we sang in Latvian, Arabic, German, Pashto, English, teaching others to sing various sounds through laughter and joyfully!” In her recollection of the event R.Liepina mentions one participant of the event in particular – a young man from the Caribbean, who took part in an ICN event for the first time and was really excited about a possibility for representatives of so many diverse cultures to find a common ground by means of cooperation in informal environment using informal methods. „He opened up and taught all of us a national game of the Caribbean, which made all of us very happy. Everyone sang the rhythmic "sha-la-la-la-la" and picked up the fiery rhythm! What more is needed, apart from good mood, friendship and common understanding?” sums up R.Liepina.
The International Mother Language Day is observed worldwide based on the UNESCO Resolution on Preserving and Protecting Linguistic Diversity adopted during the 30th session of the General Conference in 1999. Through the observance of the International Mother Language Day UNESCO emphasises the importance of languages in preserving the diversity of cultural expression and promotes use of the mother language, protects it as a foundation for the development of a strong and multi-faceted personality. Various campaigns and activities are organised worldwide on this day – public discussions on issues related to the mother language, on the value of language skills, about the significance of a developed language, respect toward one`s own and other languages. The International Mother Language Day is observed in Latvia since 2005.
ICN began its work as a one-stop-agency on 18 May 2016. ICN Riga office operates as a coordinating centre in Latvia. It provides assistance in dealing with problems of a particular customer and supports the ICN focal points/branches in the regions (in Cesis, Jelgava, Liepaja and Daugavpils) with regard to provision of services, ensures professional support to service providers in all municipalities in Latvia, coordinates awareness and availability of services to various groups of immigrants.
The activity of the Information Centre for Newcomers within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund is ensured and developed by the NGO “Shelter “Safe House””. The centre is co-funded by the European Union. Grant Agreement No. PMIF/12/2017/2/01.
Information prepared by: Rasa Salina (Rasa Saliņa), Multimedia Communications Specialist, phone 29145314, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org