Fifth Annual SUR Conference Hosted at Buena Vista University

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Over forty undergraduates from BVU and various regional universities presented at this year’s SUR Conference.

STORM LAKE, IA (04/10/2017) (readMedia)-- Buena Vista University (BVU) hosted the fifth annual Spanish Undergraduate (SUR) Conference on April 3. The SUR Conference serves undergraduate majors and minors who prepare and present on research, travel experiences or original creative works in Spanish or other languages.

Over forty undergraduates from BVU and various regional universities, including the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Briar Cliff University presented at this year's conference. In addition to Spanish, students delivered their presentations in Russian, German and French.

"The event itself proved to be a wonderful first-time opportunity for undergraduates to present their work in a foreign language in a professional setting," said Dr. Jared White, assistant professor of Spanish. "BVU was especially fortunate to host the conference this year and, as evidenced by ten of our undergraduate presenters, was well-represented."

Dr. Steven Mills, assistant professor of Spanish at BVU, added, "I appreciated the quality of the undergraduate presentations. They illustrated a critical engagement with linguistic, cultural, literary and philosophical themes in their second language. Such research takes a great deal of time to prepare and polish and they did a phenomenal job. It is a tribute to their hard work and to the spirit of collaboration that we share with these universities in our region."

The theme for this year's conference was "Voyages of Discovery, Treasures of Knowledge: Building Awareness, Growing Compassion and Developing Understanding in a Culturally Diverse and Socially Dynamic World."

"Our world is diverse, and it is a blessing to be able to have opportunities to converse with and share ideas with a wide variety of individuals," said Elizabeth Kim, a senior biology major from Fairmont, Minn. who presented and helped organize the conference. "Through these interactions, we are able to develop more compassion and understanding."

The keynote speakers for the event included Dr. Dale J. Pratt and Dr. Valerie Hegstrom from Brigham Young University, who spoke about their areas of expertise and mentoring and developing meaningful relationships with students.

While the conference was originally designed for undergraduate Spanish majors and minors, it has since opened up to multiple languages and cultures.

"What makes this conference unique is the amount of different languages that are spoken," said Molly Lewison, a junior Spanish education major from Forest City who helped organize the event and acted as a moderator at the conference. "Getting to see and hear someone present in another language amazes me. I may not understand what they are saying, but sometimes there are words or phrases that are similar and that is the best. I get to see my language abilities through another language."

Next year's SUR Conference is slated to take place at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D.

About Buena Vista University

Since 1891, Buena Vista University has prepared students for lifelong success and blends liberal arts with real-world applications. Our traditional campus on the shores of Storm Lake hosts students in a variety of majors and pre-professional programs, including elementary, secondary, and special education; business and accounting; and biological and chemical sciences. Our 16 degree-completion locations, online, and graduate programs expand student potential with a pace and academic rigor designed for working adults and a variety of class formats that make scheduling even more convenient. With an average scholarship of more than 50 percent off of tuition, BVU is an affordable option for all students. Visit