New LLCs bond upperclassmen

Reporter

The Modern Languages Living and Learning Community, LLC, will be introduced this fall as the second ever upperclassmen LLC, following the Faith and Service LLC that is finishing up its first year this semester.

Normally, LLCs are only open to freshmen students, but these LLCs open the window for upperclassmen to participate in the program.

The website for the LLC program reads, “Each LLC lives together on the same floor of a residence hall. Students in the community take one or two courses together and participate in dinners, discussions, special events and service activities.”

The Modern Languages LLC gives students the opportunity to hone their language skills and develop a global perspective.

“The language and the culture are two aspects of the same phenomenon, and they go hand in hand … One of the best ways to promote modern languages and cultural awareness is to encourage students to study abroad,” said Cory Lyle, assistant professor of Spanish.

The Modern Languages LLC could also be a viable alternative to studying abroad, with foreign language students and international students socializing, studying together and improving their language skills, Lyle said.

Lyle said learning a new language and understanding a new culture can be a great advantage. As the world changes, it is increasingly important to have a global perspective. Also, he said students proficient in multiple languages are often more competitive and more enlightened.

“You learn a new language and all of the sudden you can talk to a billion more people than you could before,” Lyle said.

The program currently includes French and Spanish students, but Lyle and other faculty sponsors hope to see the program expand and diversify with other languages. They also encourage international students to join so they can improve their English writers skills and the other students can learn from native speakers.

Both upperclassmen LLCs are open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors who desire to be a part of a close-knit community of like-minded people, said Christy Brown, Residence Life’s assistant director of Academic Initiatives.

Both the freshmen communities and upperclassmen LLCs seek to create a sense of family and a sense of inclusion for the members.

Upperclassmen LLCs are a little more autonomous and since the students are more experienced, they may have already declared their majors and involved themselves in service projects, Brown said.

The Faith and Service LLC, which set the precedent for other student driven upperclassmen LLCs, was actually a student initiative.

Senior Molly Hynes pitched the idea to Residence Life after working as a Residence Assistant her sophomore year. Hynes realized her desire to be part of a close-knit community on campus where she could talk about her faith as she served those around her.

“The thought of being in a group of people that could eat, live, pray and volunteer together brought me so much joy,” Hynes said.

In its first year, the LLC students served at Marbridge, a home for disabled adults, and participated in SERVE Austin, while developing their faith in a group of supportive and encouraging peers.

Although the Faith and Service LLCs first year was a success, it faced some struggles. Originally, Ed Shirley, professor of religious and theological studies agreed to sponsor the group. Shirley passed away on Aug. 15.

“Ed Shirley was just always a big proponent of talking about spirituality and how spirituality can be expressed, so he was really on board,” Brown said.

Shirley’s death last fall was a personal loss for many involved in the creation of the LLC, but with much support from the religious studies faculty, the LLC was able to proceed.

“Angelique Montgomery Goodnough was our faculty sponsor in the fall, I think she has described herself as being a disciple of Ed Shirley, and she was very eager to take on the project walking in his footsteps,” Brown said.

Rev. Dr. Jennifer Veninga, assistant professor for humanities, will most likely be the program’s faculty sponsor as it goes on, Brown said.

Applications are still being considered for both LLCs.