Happy International Friendship Day

“The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

The resolution places emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.”


At Queen’s, we have seen friendship developing in many ways, one of which is through joining our Tandem Language Exchange (TLE) programme. As Luisa, a German student in exchange of her language for Mandarin Chinese with Lingzhu, said, “What started off as a language partnership soon turned into a real friendship and apart from learning German and Chinese we also go running together and spend time as friends.”

While it is quiet on campus during the summer break, those who are keen to develop their language skills through TLE can still maintain their language partnership onsite or online. The new round of TLE events will begin after the new academic year starts, so enjoy your summer time (and with old friends) and be prepared to look for new language partners starting from October 2023.

To register for TLE, sign up via go.qub.ac.uk/tandemlanguage

LC-iRise Social and Wellbeing Event

The LC-iRise Social and Wellbeing Event, jointly organised by the Language Centre and Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic & International Staff Network, aims to provide staff members and students a space to meet, network, share knowledge, and enrich the intercultural experience.

This event also celebrates the mid-summer season with a taste of the cultures that Queen’s students and staff members brought together. Light lunch will be provided.

Date: Thursday 22nd June 2023
Time: 12:00 – 14:00 
Venue: Junction area, Main Site Tower / Peter Froggatt Centre, QUB

Event review

On Thursday 22 June, Queen’s staff and students came together for a social and wellbeing event, jointly organised by the Language Centre and Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and International Staff Network.

The event included traditional Chinese music on the guzheng, a Taiji martial arts demonstration, as well as various stalls showcasing calligraphy (Persian and Chinese), Indonesian culture, Chinese games, and the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.

QUB News > In Pictures

Africa Week 2023

You are all most welcome to join us on Thursday 25th May at 12 noon in The Harty Room, QUB School of Music, when we will be joined by celebrated musician, Eric Bibb. During this lunchtime concert, Eric will perform a number of his popular songs as well as sharing stories from his experiences of playing music and collaborating with other musicians from across the globe.

Eric will be interviewed by Thomas Smith, from the Language Centre at Queen’s. This musical event falls at the beginning of UNESCO Africa week, 2023 and Eric will also be reflecting on the influence of his time in Africa recording and collaborating with local musicians.

This promises to be a wonderful event, and with limited availability, we encourage anyone that is keen to attend to register now in order to avoid disappointment.

This event is free to attend. To register to attend this event, please complete the following form.

World Day for Cultural Diversity

Happy World Day for Cultural Diversity!

To celebrate this special Day (21st May), The Language Centre and The Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and International Staff Network would like to invite you to view our posts and reports in the past months on a variety of events that were hosted at Queen’s, broadly with the theme of cultural diversity being shined out.

To help us celebrate cultural diversity as inclusive as possible, you are welcome to let us know the various festivals or days of cultural significance to your native culture that are not yet added to the calendar by completing the survey form embedded.

Attending the Tandem Language Exchange session

The coming TLE session will be on Wed 24th May, at the Training Room 2, McClay Library. Queen’s students and staff members who are looking to get some language practice and intercultural exchange are very welcome to attend it. Sign up now if you have not done so yet.

Happy World Portuguese Language Day

Feliz Dia Mundial Da Língua Portuguesa!


About World Portuguese Language Day

The date of 5 May was officially established in 2009 by the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) – an intergovernmental organization that has been in official partnership with UNESCO since 2000, and which brings together peoples with the Portuguese language as one of the foundations of their specific identity – to celebrate the Portuguese language and Lusophone cultures. In 2019, the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference decided to proclaim 5 May of each year as “World Portuguese Language Day”.


On this special day, Isabella Souza McLaughlin, a graduate intern at Queen’s Global Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, shared with us her thoughts and feelings of having a Portuguese-speaking identity.

English version

May 5th is World Portuguese Language Day. The Portuguese language is widespread with speakers across all continents and is an official language in nine countries, including Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Timor Leste, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Cabo Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe. Additionally, Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in the southern hemisphere.

My name is Isabella and I am Irish-Brazilian. Being Brazilian, speaking Portuguese is part of my daily life. Speaking Portuguese allows me to communicate with my family and friends in Brazil, watch Brazilian movies, read books and listen to Brazilian music. Not only that, speaking Portuguese further helps me learn and understand other languages as Portuguese is rooted in Latin, alongside Italian, Spanish and French. If you listen closely, you may hear similar words spoken in these languages.

How can you get involved in World Portuguese Language Day? Here are some examples:

1. Learn the language: Here at Queen’s University Belfast, the Language Centre has classes in Portuguese (European) and Portuguese (Brazilian). You will be surprised to discover how many words you already know in Portuguese! Such as: Olá, tchau, cobra, açaí, mosquito, samba.

2. Visit a Portuguese-speaking country: If you visit Brazil, with its beautiful nature and delicious food, you will be enchanted by Brazilian culture.

3. Watch movies and listen to music from Portuguese-speaking countries.

Portuguese version

5 de maio Dia Mundial da Língua Portuguesa. O português é uma das línguas que se expandiu no período colonial europeu. Hoje é a língua oficial de 9 países divididos entre Europa, América, África e Ásia.

O maior expoente em termos de extensão territorial e número de falantes é o Brasil. Além disso, é a língua mais falada no hemisfério sul. Porém, o idioma tem status oficial em Angola, Moçambique, Guiné-Bissau, Timor Leste, Guiné Equatorial, Macau, Cabo Verde e São Tomé e Príncipe.

Meu nome é Isabella, sou natural da Irlanda, filha de mãe brasileira e portanto o português faz parte do meu dia a dia, pois em casa minha mãe fala português, também meus tios do Brasil e amigos. Gosto de ler livros, assistir filmes e ouvir música brasileira. Falar português ajuda muito a aprender e entender outros idiomas, pois tem origem no latim, italiano, espanhol e francês, se prestar atenção veremos muita semelhança em palavras nesses idiomas.

Portanto comemorar esse Dia Mundial da Língua Portuguesa é aprender e se surpreender com as palavras conhecidas como: olá, tchau, cobra, açaí, mosquito, samba… Visitar o Brasil com sua beleza natural e sua culinária deliciosa é encantar-se não só com as palavras é também conhecer através de filmes e músicas a riqueza de um país encantador.

Isabella’s Graduation Photo | Photo credit: Isabella

Learning Portuguese at Queen’s

To find more information on learning Portuguese languages at Queen’s, please click the links below:

Plurilingual Recipe Writing Competition

Call for participation – from Dr Caroline Linse, Senior Lecturer (TESOL) from School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Handy-Crafts consists of a wide variety of engaging, hands on activities such as cooking, card making, kites, paper airplanes, etc. in the target language which will stimulate children and provide the tools for parents and teachers to conduct the activity, (make the recipe, etc. in the target language). Handy-Crafts are culturally relevant plurilingual activities written in clear or simple language…

Dr Caroline linse

Competition information

Please note, the submission date has been extended to 6th May 2023.


For submission, please see download the recipe competition form below and refer to the Handy Crafts website for relevant ideas. For more information please contact c.linse@qub.ac.uk.

Tamil New Year

Happy Tamil New Year to our QUB Tamil Society and those who celebrate it at Queen’s and elsewhere!

The Tamil Society is a newly ratified Society at Queen’s and they are eager to help a wider audience of students and staff members to get to know their unique culture. Hema from the Society has enthusiastically introduced the Tamil New Year celebration to us.

Tamil Society at the QUB Qulture Roadshow 2023. Image credit: Liang Wang

Tamil New Year, also known as Puthandu (“Puthu” – new; “Andu” – year), is celebrated by Tamils across the world. Falling around the 14th or 15th of April every year, it is a festival not just limited to the Indian subcontinent but is widely celebrated in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, and more. It marks the beginning of the Tamil calendar year and is considered an auspicious occasion when we pay respect to our elders seeking their blessing to mark a new cycle for good fortune and prosperity. On the day, we use the greeting ‘Puthandu Nalvalthukal” which literally translates to “Happy New Year”. Homes are cleaned and preparations are made for the event on the previous day.

There is an important custom that is part of the traditional celebration which is “Kani”. This is where various items such as fruits, betel leaves, gold jewellery, money, flowers and a mirror are arranged on a tray in the prayer room. This is the first thing members of the household will look at when they wake up the next day so as to bring auspiciousness and prosperity for the new year.

Image credit: Hema

Traditionally, on New Year day priests in temple will prepare “Maruthu Neer” which is water that has been boiled with various fragrant herbs, flowers, and leaves. This water is then placed on heads of all family members during their bath. This ritual is believed to wash away all the negative energies from the previous year and bring in positive energy for the new one. After taking the bath, the New Year is celebrated by wearing new clothes, and particularly traditional Tamil clothes. The entrance of houses is decorated with mango leaves and kolams (made of powdered rice flour). We also offer prayers to God and our ancestors seeking blessings for a prosperous year ahead.

As with all festivals, food always plays an integral part in Tamil New Year.  A hearty vegetarian feast is traditionally prepared, alongside a very important dish – Mangai Pachadi – a dish made with raw mango. This dish is believed to represent “Arusuvai” or a variety of tastes (e.g. sweet, astringent, sour, bitter and spicy) to represent a new year that should be filled with all tastes or flavors of life.

In a world that is so fast paced and impermanent, Tamil New Year is a time for new beginnings and hope. It is an occasion to forget the past and look forward to a brighter future. The traditions and customs associated with the festival not only bring joy and happiness but also foster unity and harmony amongst family and friends.

Tamil New Year Potluck

We would also like to send our best wishes to those who are celebrating their New Years (Bengali / Cambodian / Hindu / Lao / Myanmar / Nepali / Thai) on/around the same day.

You are welcome to write posts on your own cultures and contribute them to our celebrating Cultural Diversity at Queen’s for sharing.

Multilingual Poetry and Music Festival

I was fortunate enough to be on the organizing committee for QUB inaugural Multilingual Poetry and Music Festival and to act as a compère for the event, which took place on Thursday 23rd March. I was hugely encouraged both by the high level of interest shown by students and the positive response from attendees on the night. Below is a blog I have written about the event.

Thomas Smith, manager of the Language Centre, begins by welcoming everyone to this inaugural Multilingual Poetry and Music Festival and explaining the motivation behind the event; that it was inspired by an event run by Dr Yecid Ortega in Toronto. He also expresses his hope that the evening become an annual event, uniting QUB students and staff.

Dr Yecid Ortega, a lecturer in SSESW and a fellow organizer of the event, then gets up to address the room, advocating for collaboration and empathy. He argues for recognition of the equivalence of each language and calls us to celebrate the beauty of cultural diversity and plurilingualism. He explains that the emphasis is not on understanding every word that is read, but on hearing the language and the emotion behind each reading.

Yecid kicks off proceedings with a Spanish poem, entitled “Instantes”. The poem is an ode to living life for the moment, and Yecid’s reading is impassioned and earnest.

Second to take to the floor is PhD student Fithrah Ansar, who reads a poem in Indonesian, entitled Rindu Negeriku, prefaced by a mesmerizing and highly emotive vocal performance. The poem is about homesickness, and Fithrah relates this to the experience of Queen’s international students, who find themselves far away from friends and family and the comforts of home culture. She is accompanied on stage by her daughter, who is wearing traditional Indonesian dress.

Mert Hava, a postgraduate researcher in SSESW, is the third presenter of the evening, reading a poem in his native language of Turkish. Mert explains that the poet, Orhan Veli Kanik, is very special to him, as he was first introduced to poetry through his poems, which tend to focus on everyday life.

Next to approach the microphone is PhD researcher Fionnghuala Nic Robeaird, who has chosen to read an Irish poem she was taught in secondary school. She explains that, at the time when she was introduced to it, she felt embarrassment and self-consciousness when speaking Irish. The poem is a celebration of the Irish language and culture, and Fionnghuala’s reading is confident and filled with pride, echoing Fithrah’s earlier contribution.

Victor Henriquez, a tutor in the school of AEL, who played some beautiful background music on the ukulele to open the event, gets up to play a medieval love song sung in the Sephardic Jewish tradition. He talks briefly about the systemic expulsion of this community in 1492 and Christopher Columbus’s simultaneous discovery of Spain. The song, Una Pastora Yo Ami, is from the perspective of an older man, who recalls his experience of being in love with a shepherdess in his youth. Victor’s own arrangement of the song is beautiful and perfectly reflects the haunting lyrics.

A brief intermission follows, during which attendees refill their glasses, grab some food, and continue conversations begun before the event started.

First up after the interval is Raditya Weka Nugraheni, a PhD student in Pharmacy. Her poem, entitled Awan Ing Kuthamu, which Raditya explains translates literally as “afternoon in your city”, is Javanese. The poem is a commentary on city life, in which the writer questions humanity, when it is the case that people can walk past homeless people on the street, without interacting or acting. The poem highlights the juxtaposition of wealth and privilege with poverty and destitution. Raditya’s dynamic reading evokes brilliantly the anger and despair of the writer.

Muhammad Touhidul, a postgraduate student in SSESW, is next to present his self-penned Bengali poem, which translates as “Journey to the Destination”. He speaks about his inspiration for the poem (travelling on a bus from Dublin to Limerick with his wife). This journey led him to reflect on the journey his life had taken to this point and to remark upon how far he has come. The poem is about that journey and about how important it is to soak up the good moments in life, spent with those closest to us. The poem is heartfelt and evocative.

Another Indonesian poem follows Muhammad’s reading. This time it is recited by Azam Saifullah, who is a PGR student in Nursing. It is called Diponegoro and is a call to action in a time of war. Azam’s delivery is passionate and powerful, and attendees fall silent, as his words transport them to another place of combat and consequence.

We are then treated to a performance by Wei Deng on the guzheng, a Chinese traditional musical instrument. The audience are hypnotized by the beautiful melody that emanates from the sound board, created so deftly by Wei.

Yanan Wei, who is completing an MA in Interpreting, is the penultimate contributor to the event. Her Chinese poem, entitled “Chinese”, is read over a popular Chinese piece, which is played over the speakers. The melody is arresting in its beauty and is the perfect accompaniment to a poem which is a tribute to the beauty, richness and power of the Chinese language. Read with pride, Yanan’s performance is absorbing.

The concluding performance of the night comes from Xinxin Wang and Dai Yi, two PG students from the School of Law. The poem they have chosen to read is entitled “The Song of Mulan”, and tells the story of Mulan, who disguises herself as a man, to take the place of her elderly father in war. Firstly, Dai reads the Chinese original and then Xinxin reads the English translation, while Dai plays the guzheng. The accompaniment is captivating and the melody gains momentum, in tandem with moments of tension in the poem, such as when Mulan sets off to fight.

The evening, which has been filled with hope and positivity, draws to a close. Thanks to the efforts and talent of the student performers and the support of attendees, the inaugural Multilingual Poetry and Music Festival has been a real success. Let’s hope it becomes an annual event.

Dr Poppy Boyd, Language Support Officer, Language Centre 

Happy UN French Language Day

Bonjour! Did you know today, the 20th March, is the UN French Language Day? Joyeuse journée de la langue Française !

On this special day, Manon Merle, a French student doing Politics at Queen’s School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, shared with us her experience of coming to study at Queen’s with her language exchange needs.

I am Manon, a French native speaker studying at Queen’s as an Erasmus student. And there are quite a few Erasmus students from France like me studying on campus! We are very eager to get to know you!

In my home university in France I study political science and am going to apply for a master in the ecological transition. I have decided to study abroad in Belfast mostly to improve my skills in English, to discover new people, a new city, a new culture and a new educational system. Many other French students have the same idea as I have, and we hope to contribute to Queen’s as a vibrant French-speaking community. As I hope this experience here to help me with my English, I recently signed up for the Tandem Language Exchange programme. So, I’ll be happy to promote my native language as well as to learn other languages from you!

To learn French (or the other languages) with us Language Centre, visit www.qub.ac.uk/lc (or scan the QR code) and sign up for the classes which will commence week beginning Monday 24 April 2023.

To find a language partner for language exchange, visit Tandem Language Exchange (TLE) programme. The coming TLE session is scheduled on Wed 22 March between 11:00 and 12:00 at the Training Room 2, McClay Library.

What an amazing M-Fest

East or west, homemade food is the best!

In the annual flagship of the Malaysian Students’ Society of Northern Ireland, we celebrated the joy of preparing and sharing Malaysian hawker-style food.

Photo credit: Xin Yi Beh

Foods and beverages reminiscent of our unique Malaysian childhood were served, including but not limited to teh ais (iced tea with condensed milk), homemade soya milk, nasi kandar (Northern Malaysian gravy and side dishes on steamed rice), Kuih (Malaysian bite-sized savory snacks and desserts) and many more.

It has been a great honor to encourage such togetherness by gathering a bunch of Malaysian food vendors and bringing our Malaysian students as one to enjoy the fruits of our hard work.

They say food is a universal language of love and we remain thankful to be able to deliver this message to our fellow Malaysian students and promote the Malaysian culture to those interested. This one is for the celebration of Malaysian food, the cultural essence of hawker-style cuisine, and the love we share as a society!

Photo credit: Xin Yi Beh

To find more about the M-Fest, click the link below:

Author: Maegan Ang, School of Law