Carolina Public Humanities hosts Foreign Language Lunches, where attendees aim to speak only in that language for an hour and a half. The groups include graduate students, retirees and native speakers — among other participants.
The lunches are held at Southern Season’s Weathervane restaurant in Chapel Hill and are open to all people and all levels of language proficiency. The cost is $25 per person and includes lunch.
The group meets in an upstairs room around a 13-seat round table at the Weathervane restaurant.
Rachel Schaevitz, associate director for State Outreach and Strategic Partnerships at Carolina Public Humanities, had the idea for the program several years ago. When she began working at the University, she said one of the jobs she was tasked with was trying to find ways to bring the scholarship of UNC off campus and into the community.
“I invented this ‘language lunch,’” Shaevitz said. “We started with French because there was a need and a very visible French-speaking community in town, and it expanded from there.”
Schaevitz said the idea is to bring language learners of every level together to have a conversation.
“So even if you’re really rusty or are just starting to learn, you can still come," Schaevitz said. "Even if you don’t chime in that much, you are still hearing it and participating in a conversation in that language.”
Community member Lauren Weinberger has been attending the Italian lunches since the program began. She described the lunches as a supportive, non-judgemental environment.
“I really look forward to them, to seeing the people, to getting to speak,” Weinberger said. “From an educational and a social activity, it’s a very special event.”