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Cultural Connections: Languages and Cultures of the Upper Midwest

Welcome to Cultural Connections: Languages and Cultures of the Upper Midwest! This undergraduate research conference, organized by undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and the University of Wisconsin–Madison examines the diverse arts, languages, folklore, and cultural traditions of the people who live in the Upper Midwest, as well as the cultural connections to other countries represented in the Upper Midwest.

The conference is being held on Friday, April 8, 2022, on the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire campus and will be followed by the Wahlstrom Nordic Workshop at Beaver Creek Nature Reserve in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10.

You can find a full schedule of events here:

Friday, April 8th
8:45am–9:15am Check-In and Registration

9:15am–10:45am Session 1: Culture in Phillips 283

  • “Simbang Gabi: Filipino Christmas in America” with Johanna Meijas
  • “Music as Culture Capsules, X-Gen Latine Lullabies as Folkloric Vectors” with Siena Finlayson
  • “Tattoos and Change: One and the Same” with Daniel Wise

11:00am–12:00pm Keynote Address in Phillips 265

  • “Deepening Our Relationship to the North Woods Through Story” with Leah Lemm

12:00pm–1:00pm Break for Lunch in Phillips 283

1:05pm–1:55pm Session 2: Happiness in Finland Poster Gallery in Phillips 281

  • 1:10pm–1:15pm “Fostering Health and Wellbeing Through School Lunches: What We can Learn from the World’s Happiest Country (Finland)” with Ben Adams and Kaitlyn Riehle
  • 1:15pm–1:20pm “Work, Rest, and Health in the Nordic Countries: What Makes the Nordic Countries Happy, and What the United States Can Learn From Them” with Tristan Wirkus, Ashlin VonRuden, and Cole Hanson
  • 1:20pm–1:25pm “Finland’s National Book Bag Program: How the Finland Book Program Creates Happiness” with Ashley Peterson
  • 1:25pm–1:55pm Questions and Gallery Time

2:00pm–3:00pm Richie Yurkovich and Polkarioty Performance in Phillips 265

3:10pm–3:55pm Session 3: Environmental Policies in Phillips 283

  • “Environmental Policy and Consciousness in the Fox Valley” with Hope Karnopp
  • “Wolves in Wisconsin: Hunting, Treaty Rights, and Indigenous Philosophy” with Molly Larson

4:00pm–5:00pm Session 4: Language in Phillips 283

  • “The Low Back Vowel Merger in Wisconsin English: Examining Merger in Heritage Speakers of South Asian Languages” with Trisha Saxena
  • “Voces del Campo: Conducting Oral Histories of Latinx Art, Tradition, Culture, and COVID-19 in Western Wisconsin” with Wendy Villalva

5:00pm Closing Remarks

See our original call for papers here.

Additional questions? Contact student organizers, Mattie, Maya, Molly, and Sydney at or Drs. Anna Rue and Marcus Cederström at