By Lily Vining || Managing Editor
Members of ISAB and performers. Photo courtesy of Munahil Sultana.
On Tuesday, February 21st, The International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) hosted a Multilingual Poetry Reading at the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House in honor of International Mother Language Day.
The night began with an introduction by Shubham Jha ‘26. He expressed his gratitude for the multitude of supporters of the event, both in person at the Writers House, and watching over the @fandmcollege Instagram Live. Alfee Rubayet ‘24 then took to the mic to explain the meaning of the celebration. International Mother Language Day was first proposed at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and recognized by the United Nations in 2002. The annual celebration promotes awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity. It also honors martyrs who fought for recognition of Bangla in the Bengali Language Movement in Rubayet’s home of Bangladesh. Rubayet shared the poem “Bidrohi,” translated to “The Rebel,” in her native Bangla. The connection she holds with the piece was palpable for the audience, as her powerful reading garnered a second round of applause.
Sarwesh Mani Acharya ‘26 followed with a poem he wrote in Nepali titled “Suruwat.” Acharya explained that his experience at F&M inspired him to share the “new beginning” of starting college in another country.
Milo Berger ‘26 followed with a French poem by Charles Baudelaire titled “Je t’adore à l’égal de la Voûte Nocturne.” With his readings in both French and English, he hoped to defend the stereotypes he feels Americans have surrounding French culture and the trope of the “hopeless romantic.”
We next heard from Ali Nawar ‘26 with a reading of “Tibaq” by Mahmoud Darwish. The poem, which translates to “Antithesis,” was read in both Arabic and English. Arogya Dahal ‘26 followed with a rendition of “Mero Chowk ” by Bhupi Sherchan in his native Nepali.
Aayat Tahir ‘26 took to the mic to share two pieces, the first of which being “Malal Hai Magar Itna Malal Thori Hai” by Parveen Shakir in Urdu. Tahir followed with an original composition titled “The Lonely Shade of Blue” which she described as a poem “preserving something close to my heart” and while melancholy, provided hope in the end.
Marisol Rivera-Esquivias ‘24 also shared an original piece titled “Elementos de la Vida,” or “Elements of Life,” about her experience as the daughter of Mexican farmworkers. Her moving performance captured the feelings that many share as they work to maintain their identity and honor their roots.
Before Sofia Netto ‘24 recited “Seiscentos e Sessenta e Seis” by Mario Quintana, she stopped and looked around at the walls of the performance space. She noted two famous writers with Latin American names surrounding her but pointed out that “there are a lot of white walls,” room to add more international authors to the list.
Other performers included Johansen Vargas Rodriguez ‘26 reciting “Mi Sangre” by Manuel del Cabral in Spanish; Olha Shapovalenko ‘24 reciting “Zapovit,” or “Testament” by Taras Shevchenko in Ukrainian; Aidana Talgatkyzy ‘26 performing “Ush Bakytym,” or “Three Happiness” by Mukaghali Makatayev in Kazakh; Catalina Bernabe Correa ‘24 reciting “La Cancion del Pirata” by Jose de Espronceda in Spanish; Zainab Akram ‘25 performing “Hamesha Der Kar Deta Hun” by Munir Niazi in Urdu; Dominique Arambula ‘25 reciting “Oyeme Como Quien Oye Llover” by Octavio Paz in Spanish; Reetoja Banerjee ‘24 performing “Koshish Karne Walo Ki Kabhi Haar Nahi Hothi” by Sohan Lal Dwivedi in Hindi; and Kate Martinez ‘26 reciting “Si Alguien Quiere Saber de mi Patria” by Pedro Mir in Spanish.
We thank all of the performers who shared work in their mother languages with the F&M community for this global celebration of indigenous culture and diversity.
Junior Lily Vining is the Managing Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.