On a recent hot, sticky July evening, teams of students attending the University’s Summer Language Institute battled for the ultimate prize: the right to adorn a trophy of a monster dressed in garb representative of the country whose language they are studying.
Ten teams took part in the second annual scavenger hunt, an exercise designed to improve fluency in foreign language. The groups followed clues written in their language of study and spoke only that language as they raced to find the monster trophy near the U.Va. amphitheater.
In the end, the French team, Vive la Republic, managed to track down the trophy and declared “Le monstre va bientôt être coiffé d’un beret!” – or “the monster will soon be wearing a beret!”
The Summer Language Institute’s motto is “Polyglots aren’t born, they’re made!” and offers eight-week courses in French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian, Spanish, Tibetan, Chinese, Arabic, and, new this year, Hebrew.
Other pictures from this year’s hunt can be viewed on the SLI’s Facebook page.
Program director Caren Freeman gave the following account of this year’s hunt:
The members of the French equipe, Vive la République! arrived on the stage of the amphitheater, breathless and pale from heat exhaustion. I surveyed their answers. All were correct except the Russian secret clue. Hung up on the word “avant” in the French translation of the question, the French team struggled for some time before coming to the realization that artist El Lissitzky’s forward-looking style (“ce genre qui a regard en avant”) was not “avant-garde” but rather “futurism.” Time was on their side, however. No other competitors were in sight except their camarades Français from team Élixir, who arrived on the scene moments later with 10 correct answers. Felicitations to the French SLI. This tenacious group was clearly determined to see the monster wearing a beret and carrying a baguette at the graduation exhibition!
There was no clear third-place winner, as no other team solved all 10 secret clues correctly. Arabic, German, Spanish, Russian and Chinese (in no particular order) deserve honorable mention for speedily bringing home seven or more correct answers. The Slackers of Spanish, true to their name, distinguished themselves as the laziest team, declaring themselves entirely unmotivated by the reward of Spudnuts. The Chinese team employed a creative tactic of using the amphitheater as a headquarters for solving the puzzles while a messenger on a bike ferried information to foot soldiers in the field. The Hebrew team gets the “ruach” award for their spirited display of camaraderie. The Italian, Tibetan and Latin teams are also to be commended for their good sportsmanship, enthusiasm and creative attire.
– by Jane Kelly
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