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Global French Studies at Hope College


Click here for the 2009 French Newsletter
click on the link above to access the 2015 and past French Newsletters

French Cultural Ambassadors 2015-16

Learn more about the French Cultural Ambassadors for this school year here!

Crêpes soirée at French House opens the new academic year

Un grand merci to Lucie Gaucher, our native assistant, and the French House students for delicious crêpes!

Apercu de "La Vie en Rose"


An end-of-year "La vie en rose" party at the Maison Francaise took place on Saturday 11 April. On the menu: Madeleines; Mousse au chocolat; Crèmes brulées; and the traditionnal Crepes, with games and music. Merci à Raphaële, our native assistant for organizing this, and for the chefs of French 4 for cooking!

Phi Beta Kappa Award Winners

Congratulations to four Global French Studies seniors who were awarded Phi Beta Kappa! They are from left to right Lize Loubser, Mary Liz Winther, Dorothy Dickinson, and Hannah Gingrich.

Pi Delta Phi Welcomes New Members

The Global French Studies program hosted on April 8 its annual Pi Delta Phi (National French Honorary Society) ceremony and reception at the house of Anne Larsen. Twelve students became regular members while native assistant Raphaele Brachet became honorary member.

Lacie Rawlings ’11 gave the “Life After Hope” address on Monday, 23 March

A Hope graduate with a BA in International Studies and minors in French and Political Science, she studied in Rabat, Morocco during her junior year, and then spent a year in Israel earning a MA in Peace and Conflict Management Studies at the University of Haifa before embarking on her professional career in Washington D.C. Currently, she is Deputy Director of Administration (as well as Executive Assistant to the President & CEO) at the Stimson Center in downtown Washington, DC. This role allows her to enjoy her interdisciplinary interests, supporting the executive office and operations of a top global security think-tank and conducting research on the Middle East and the Maghreb.

Dr. Anne Heath Lecture on Abbey Church

On Wednesday, February 18, Dr. Anne Heath from the department of Art/Art History presented a lecture on "Politics, Performance, and Memory in Abbey Church of Saint-German d'Auxerre: The Urban Life of a Medieval Monastery." Constructed in the 13th century, the Benedictine monastery commemorates the life and relics of St. Germanus, a 7th century bishop from Auxerre, in Burgundy. First-year Global French Studies student Alexandra Knorp commented on how much she learned about the Abbey Church and, especially, on how she enjoyed "seeing how passionate Dr. Heath was about what she was researching. I could tell that she loves what she does, and that kind of passion is inspiring."

Kaleigh Doan wins National French Scholarship

Hope College junior Kaleigh Doan of Ludington has been awarded the 2014 AATF Walter Jensen Scholarship for Study Abroad from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF).

Doan, who is majoring in French and English with an emphasis on teaching at the secondary level, was selected by a national committee based on her credentials. The $2,000 award will provide support while she studies in Nantes, France, last fall semester.

Learn more about the scholarship under the Awards page, and congratulations to Kaleigh!

Alumni update: Global French Studies Major '14 Kate Pitchford working for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Benin

I received such a warm welcome upon my arrival in Benin. It was a huge relief to finally arrive after months of wondering where I would end up and who I would meet. Benin is a beautiful country with people as diverse as its landscapes, and this has been an opportunity to learn about God’s kingdom from an entirely new context—I’ve learned so much here about God and about myself that I would not have learned had I stayed home.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of diverse projects, and the variation has made this a very rich experience. In the past few months, I’ve helped film several weddings, designed flyers and fundraising materials, filmed interviews with the personnel, and was a teaching assistant for a computer literacy course! This month, my work has been a mixture of taking photos for Wycliffe Benin to use in their newsletters and other publications, creating an informational video on the organization, and doing some English tutoring on the side. She says, "I also use French in most of my daily tasks at work, including sorting video footage, transcribing video interviews, and doing English-French translation on documents from Wycliffe USA for Wycliffe Benin to use, and vice versa."

My host family and co-workers at the Wycliffe Benin office are all Beninese, so if I only spoke English, I definitely wouldn’t be able to form relationships with the people around me in the same way. The ability to speak French has had a huge positive impact on this experience and has been so important to building meaningful relationships.


Senior Mary Elizabeth Winther, majors in Theater and Global French Studies as well as Mellon Scholar, and Dorothy Dickinson, a major in English Literature, Philosophy, and Global French Studies as well as a Mellon Scholar are presenting at NCUR (National Conference for Undergraduate Research) April 16-18, 2015 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.

Mary Elizabeth's paper is titled, "Feminism and Humanism in the Films of Safi Faye," and examines the claims by many scholars that Safi Faye (one of the first female African film makers), makes films that are imbued with feminist and political messages. In her paper she compares the conclusions of several scholars to the words and works of Faye, and draw conclusions about the presence (or lack of) feminist ideas in her films.

Dorothy's paper concentrates on traditional West African storytellers and singers known as griots. It examines their conflicting reputation as both parasites living off of others and preservers of traditional culture. It also explores their relationship to African filmmakers like Ousmane Sembène. By looking into second-hand accounts as well as interviews and films, the paper seeks to elucidate the complex role of griots in West African society.

2015 French Film Festival Success

Merci beaucoup!
Many thanks to everyone who came out for last week's French Film Festival. We had a great turn out with over 400 attendees! We hope that you enjoyed the films and that you will join us again next year.
-The French Film Festival Committee

(pictured, from left: Raphaele Brachet, Hannah Gingrich, Katelyn Kiner, Brandon Guernsey).

The Value of Majoring in a Foreign Language and Study Abroad -Megan Mulder Marthens '97

Life is a wonderful journey. My journey has recently brought me back to west Michigan after graduating from Hope College in 1997. My days spent at Hope were extremely meaningful. One of the more profound times during my college career occurred when I chose to study in Paris, France for a semester. Having studied the French language all through high school and loving every minute of it, I continued with my course work at the college level. Originally, I thought that I would pursue a career in business. After my sophmore year, however, I made the change to a double major in French and Education. It was at this point that Dr. Larsen encouraged me to consider a semester of study abroad. I didn't hesitate at the suggestion! It was a rich experience for me: life defining in so many ways.

Having recently connected with Dr. Larsen, I shared my professional experiences to this point in my life. I have been a teacher for fifteen years, primarily working with gifted and talented students at the middle school level. Although I did not teach French, my major and the choice to study abroad were of utmost importance in getting my first job and the opportunities that came to me thereafter. I was hired for my first teaching job in Wilmette, Illinois: one of the top districts in the nation. I got this job just two weeks after finishing my student teaching in the West Ottawa district here in Holland. The principal who gave me that first job said to me, "I hired you because of your study abroad experience. If you can handle a semester of studying in another country, in another language for a semester, you can do anything!" I truly believe that. I also firmly believe that the choice to study French, or any foreign language for that matter, will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your career. Bonne chance!

Mary Elizabeth Winther Presents at NCUR

 Mary Elizabeth Winther at Giverny, Monet's Gardens, spring 2014 Senior Mary Elizabeth Winther, majors in Theater and Global French Studies as well as Mellon Scholar, is presenting at NCUR (National Conference for Undergraduate Research) April 16- 18.
Her paper, "Feminism and Humanism in the Films of Safi Faye," examines the claims by many scholars that Safi Faye (one of the first female African film makers), makes films that are imbued with feminist and political messages. In her paper she compares the conclusions of several scholars to the words and works of Faye, and draw conclusions about the presence (or lack of) feminist ideas in her films.

Global French Studies Major '14 Lauren Wade in Burundi

From August 2014-July 2015 I am volunteering in Gitega, Burundi, East Africa with the Mennonite Central Committee, a North-American development NGO. I am working with a local organization which helps the indigenous population of Burundi as a Communications Assistant. This involves creating and updating the organization's website, looking for grants, and helping the staff learn English in order to better communicate with partners and patrons. I am living with a host mother in Gitega who is wonderful and we have many wonderful conversations in French. After graduating from Hope in 2014, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn about a different culture and language. Burundi is a country whose population is joyful and filled with laughter despite a very difficult life. I have only spent three months here but I am looking forward to all the wonderful experiences yet to come!

Les Choristes

Global French Studies students sing Les Choristes in the Images International Student Show on November 15. Bravo a tous!

Global French Studies Hosts a Fête Gourmande

Global French Studies hosted in early October a Fête Gourmande showcasing Beginning French Students' posters on foods from around the Francophone World.

Round Robin of Returning Students

The Round Table of Returning Students from France presented their varied and wonderful experiences at Rennes, Nantes, Arles, Paris, and Nice (France for the Pre-Med). The accompagning photo shows a photo of, on the lower right, Jake Boersma ('16) with Professor Colette Winn, Director of the Nice Program)

Former Global French Studies student Brittany Adams ('08- '10), B.A. French and M.A. Library Science

I have recently returned from a year abroad, and it was one of the best years of my life. Most of the time I was in St Andrews, Scotland, where I was working on my second master's in Library Science, but this summer I had the chance to travel quite a bit which was wonderful. I actually made it to France twice! I spent a few days in Paris, which was beautiful, and then a week in Lyon at the Institut d'Histoire du Livre. I finished the trip with a day in Aix-en-Provence, which I absolutely loved. I was able to speak French with the native speakers quite well, for which I was very thankful!

While at St Andrews, I found myself studying the Early Modern period quite often. Ultimately I focused on British print history, but I'm hoping to expand my focus in the coming years to France and the Americas as well. I honestly cannot state enough how glad I am to have studied French. Not only does it open up a whole world of understanding--other countries, other people, languages, and linguistics in general--but it's proved essential for my work. As I am applying to jobs, so many descriptions ask for someone who knows at least one European language, and French, having been the language of the nobility, is especially helpful when looking at historical texts.

Dr. Diane Guenin-Lelle and "The History of 'French' New Orleans"

Dr. Diane Guenin-Lelle, Professor of French at Albion College, spoke on Wednesday, 8 October, on “The History of ‘French’ New Orleans.” Her book on this topic is being released by the University of Mississippi Press this fall. Dr. Genin-Lelle, a native of New Orleans, detailed the history of this fascinating Creole city. Brooke Wharton ’18, who is taking French 3 this fall, wrote the following in her report on the talk: “French New Orleans rapidly became a place of creolization – the rapid transformation of native land and people in America due to the arrival or Europeans and Africans. From there came the Francophone creoles, who were both French and catholic. Dr. Guenin-Lelle argued that New Orleans from its beginnings has been a creole place. New Orleans then emerged as an imagined community of creole and France.”

Colloquium Hosts Director Floriane Brown

The Global French Studies Colloquium hosted on Monday 15 September Floriane Brown, Founder and Executive Director of Nibakure Children's Village in Rwanda. Daniel Owens '13 organized the visit.
The village provides help and care, housing, family, and education to the children. Students interested in attending a May term at the Nibakure Village can find information on the Global French Studies web site (under Majors/minors).

The Career Benefits of STUDY ABROAD

Study Abroad is one of the best ways for you to differentiate yourself in the hob market. The survey in the link below shows how students land jobs sooner after graduation, related to their majors, and at a higher salary. Click to read more about the survey

Interested in living in France for a year?


Bonjour! Je m’appelle Hannah Jacobsma.

As a sophomore here at Hope, and an English major and French minor, I started going to the Pause Café (the French weekly conversation group) a few weeks ago, and it is phenomenal! Basically, every Tuesday at 4:00, students from all levels of French get together at Lemonjello’s and practice speaking. Professor Brandon Guernsey who runs the program is wonderful as he initiates various topics and questions to talk about, and helps students come up with responses, as well as teach new phrases and words. It is really neat because you can pretend that you are sitting in a café in France! I love being able to practice speaking French with others. This is a wonderful opportunity to improve speaking skills, meet other French students, relax, and drink some coffee!




By studying French, you are preparing yourself for a global professional experience allowing you to work for international organizations in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, the State department, businesses with a global outreach, the mission field, and much more!



In “The 13 Most Useful College Majors (as Determined by Science)” Newsweek 25 April 2012, “French, German, Latin, and other Common Foreign Languages” rank in the top ten “Most Useful College Majors” for finding employment and earning higher wages: http://newsweek.tumblr.com/post/21649811964/the-13-most-useless-college-majors-as-determined-by


1. Be understood in 55 countries across five continents and by over 200 million people.

2. Develop critical, creative thinking and problem solving skills. French also provides the base for more than 50% of the modern English vocabulary, which improves performance on standardized tests.

3. Open the doors to art, music, fashion, food, architecture, literature, scientific innovation, and technological.

4. Discover a new appreciation for other cultures in countries that speak French like Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and many African nations.

5. Use French to pursue studies in Francophone countries in Africa.

6. Promote language diversity throughout the world.

7. Be more competitive in the national and international job market in disciplines like business, medicine, aviation, law, transportation technologies, global/international distribution and luxury goods.

8. French is the official working language of the UN, NATO, UNESCO, the International Olympic Committee, the European Union, the International Red Cross and much more!