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At the start of last month, and to coincide with the septcentennial anniversary of the death of Majorcan writer and philosopher Ramon Llull, Catalan language teachers from the universities of Durham, Newcastle, Cambridge and Liverpool organized a cultural trip to the island of Mallorca, where Llull was born. A total of 32 students of Catalan from all four universities took park in the week-long trip, co-organised by Joan Mas Font from Modern Languages and Cultures, including students from across all years of study at Liverpool. This trip not only gave the students the chance to practise their Catalan, but also to learn about the life, work, and legacy of Ramon Llull, a key Catalan literary figure.

The UK students in front of the statue of Ramon Llull

The UK students in front of the statue of Ramon Llull

Llull is considered one of the greatest philosophical and literary figures in medieval Europe due to the originality and quality of his work. Llull wrote in Catalan, Latin and Arabic, and he has influenced great thinkers, from the 14th-century to the present day. The trip included visits to three fundamental locations that allowed students to understand the life of Llull better: Palma; the Miramar monastery, where Llull spent three years; and Randa. There was also an excursion to La Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The students enjoyed a workshop on the Majorcan tradition of “els glossadors”, an improvised oral poetry performance, and had the chance both to taste some medieval cuisine and attend a medieval musical performance. As such, it was a full immersion into Catalan culture and history, beyond the typical touristic experience of Mallorca, something that particularly struck Liverpool student Gemma Gray.

The trip provided the perfect opportunity to be able to use Catalan in everyday surroundings, and what better way to do it than learning about Ramon Llull?

The visit was closely followed by newspapers and TV channels in the Balearic Islands, which helped to raise awareness of Catalan as a foreign language abroad. Such media attention also helped to highlight the work that the Institut Ramon Llull and the Catalan teachers in the United Kingdom are doing for Catalan language and culture.

The radio broadcast The trip Ona Mediterrània, with students and Joan Mas Font (right)

The radio broadcast Ona Mediterrània, with students and Joan Mas Font (right)

The trip was generously funded by the Institut d’Estudis Baleàrics, Institut Ramon Llull, Govern de les Illes Balears, Ajuntament de Palma, Ajuntament de Valldemossa, Ajuntament d’Algaida, Col.legis Franciscans, H. Central Palma, Catedral de Mallorca and Fornet de la Soca as well as by the four British universities involved.