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Volume 17
The Hope College Newsletter
Fall 2008


Getting Down to Buisness In Paris

     New ground was broken as Lauren Johnson became the first Hope student to participate in the IES (Institute of International Education of Students) Paris Business and International Affairs program. Upon completion of the program, Lauren reflected on her experience, what she learned, and plans for the future.
     "I had a wonderful time and I was surprised at the program's organization as I was with only the second semester of students to go through (it was just established fall of 2007). The classes I took were Advanced French Language and Culture II, Business French, History of Paris in Art and Architecture, Comparative European Political Systems, and International Political Economy. I was very satisfied with the courses that I took."

Lauren enjoying a dinner cruise on the Seine.

Lauren and her host family.

     "There were many things I learned about French culture during my time in Paris. First of all, everyone is VERY into politics. Everywhere I went people were always asking me about Bush and if I liked Obama. As a political science major I really enjoyed it because politics seemed to be a sort of "way of life." I also learned that, contradictory to what most people believe, the French are actually very nice and polite. I could see how they come off as arrogant because they definitely have a sense of pride in who they are, but I found them to be quite charming people. I also learned that the French really enjoy life. I found it amusing that even my host parents would have friends over and go out on a regular basis and they weren't afraid to have a good time."

     "In regards to my future, I think that my time in Paris will play an important role. Not only did I grow as a person, but I also think that my experience has helped shape who I am today. Not to mention that my language skills went through the roof compared to the level I was at before leaving. After spending a semester in Paris I am now very comfortable in the city and I could definitely see myself moving back some day.
     I was blessed and had an AMAZING host family so I think that some of my fondest memories were spent just hanging around with them. I had four host brothers so that was crazy at times, but that also meant that my host mom loved me because I was the only other girl around.

Lauren and her sisters at Notre Dame.

     I also really enjoyed the city itself; it seems there was always something new and exciting to do until the very end. In conclusion, I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the opportunity; it was a life changing experience!"

Kicking Up Her Heels: French and Dance Merge

The Centre de Danse du Marais.

     French is known worldwide as the language of dance, so it was only natural for Sarah Williams (‘09) to combine her love of French and her love of dance studying abroad in Paris. She enrolled in classes at the prestigious Centre de Danse du Marais, and now shares about one of the most memorable experiences of her life. “I attended the Centre de Danse du Marais for the Fall semester of 2007, and what a fabulous experience it was!"

     "I took six classes for credit: two classes in danse classique (ballet) from Patrick Dupond (first dancer, and eventually, Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet) and Katalin Csarnoy (danced under Maurice Béjart), one contemporain (modern) from Catherine Cordier (mixture of Cunningham and Limon technique), one contemporary barre au sol (floor barre) class from Christine Conti, one jazz class from Anne Beaucousin, and finally, one baroque dance class from Edith Lalonger. In my spare time, I also tried several different styles and teachers, including ballet from Frédéric Lazzarelli from the National Ballet of Mexico, Nicholas Noel of Paris, Opera, and Béatrice Herbout of Hamburg Opera.

     Located four blocks down Rue de Temple in Paris' famous Marais area, the courtyard houses studios both up and downstairs, a theater, and a café. The studios of the Centre de Danse du Marais are very small and very French, and each studio is named after a different composer. The barres are wobbly, and the wooden floors can be very slick. However, it was such a relief for me the first time I walked into the center's courtyard and heard the same "plier" music floating out of the windows as I have heard for years.

Sarah with Patrick Dupond and Leila DaRocha.

     Some things are the same wherever you go, and some things get even better. For example, the view from my danse baroque studio was of the Centre Georges Pompidou.
     Patrick Dupond was one of the silliest ballet teachers I have ever had. He pranced, he sang (sometimes in English), and he regularly broke out into a kick line . . . I loved it! And he gave me one of the best compliments I have ever gotten in my life: he said he really liked my spirit. I was just doing pirouettes, so I'm not sure exactly what "esprit" he was talking about, but it was coming from the Patrick Dupond, so I'll take it. The man is a living legend, especially in Paris. In everyday conversation with him, he would mention ballet legends that he had worked with, including Rudolf Nureyev and Maurice Béjart. It was such an honor to study under him!”

Living in the Land of the Upright People, By Laura Rojeski (‘07)

     Immersed in a culture much different from my own, my Peace Corps experience has been full of surprises. From scorpions, snakes and fast tarantula-like spiders to eating rice or tô with my hands to bargaining at the market in my local language – there has rarely been a dull moment. My country, Burkina Faso, is a land-locked francophone country in West Africa and is the 3rd poorest country in the world. Despite their economic challenges, the people of this country are very giving and accepting. There are many different ethnicities and over 60 local languages found throughout the country, as well as various religions. Along with these different foundational aspects of life come different practices.

Many Muslims practice polygamy and generally have two to four wives, while many Animists worship fetishes and have family totems.

Thos in the Peulh ethnicity tend to be more nomadic and raise livestock, while the Mossi tend to be the leaders of most business activity in Burkina.

     Even though their practices are so varied, the Burkinabé all accept each others’ differences, as well as accepting me upon my arrival: a “Nassara”, (foreigner) coming to be part of their culture.
     So with all these cultural differences and obstacles, how do I go about carrying out my assignment as a health and development volunteer? How do I motivate people to go to the local health clinic instead of using traditional medicine without offending their beliefs? How do I get women to feel more empowered or get men to see that women can and should have a place outside of the home? How do I stress the importance of education when all family members are needed in the fields in order to make enough to scrape by? Working here is a challenge and requires much patience. I have learned that no project I want to do will work unless it’s supported by my community. Thus, it is a crucial part of all my projects to include community members in both the planning and action phases of any project. (And if I can manage to have a woman in a leadership position – all the better!)
     During my time here I have done various projects including soap-making groups, a proposal to gain equipment for the local health theater troupe, a health survey in my surrounding villages, helping with baby weighings and prenatal consultations at the clinic, and participating in a life skills workshop. I also just successfully completed a summer camp with about 60 middle school-aged kids. We discussed topics such as hygiene, nutrition, malaria, and good decision making among others. Students receive some health-based education during the school year, but as I found out, they are taught nothing about reproductive health, puberty, or sex in school or at home. You could see the excitement and relief on their faces as their questions and concerns were being addressed. It was these lessons that proved to be my most rewarding experience during the camp - although the session doing yoga for mind, body and spirit health was quite amusing too. My next project is starting a monthly women’s night. Run by villagers, I hope to provide women with the time to relax, chat, feel empowered, and hear a lesson directly related to women’s health.
     With the help of many volunteers, NGO’s and other foreign aid, Burkina is constantly changing and developing. Formerly called Upper Volta and under French rule, the Burkinabé are still working to redefine themselves and their country into something they can call their own. Burkina Faso, meaning “Land of the Upright People”, has taught me much already. Even though the people here don’t have much in terms of material items, they are extremely rich in character. I am surprised daily at the generosity and perseverance of the people of this country. I can only hope to be able to take some of their Burkinabé spirit back to the States with me to share with others.

Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Margaret (‘07) with her two Senegalese sisters, Ouly and Soda.

     Giving back is a concept not lost on Hope students, in particular Margaret Flystra, who graduated from Hope in 2007 as a French major. She has since joined the Peace Corps, which brings her to Senegal, and therefore also brings another opportunity to use her skills in French. She writes: “I am now in my third week at my site in Guinguineo, Senegal where I will be for the next couple of years."

     "Life is interesting here and completely different from all that I am used to…. If I want to go anywhere, I just walk on the side of the road until the next car passing by stops and happens to always be going exactly where I want to go. In America never would a horse drawn wagon be going your way nor would every child within five miles happen to appear at the exact moment you needed help moving your stuff from one hut to the next. But… this is Africa and this is how life works.
     My family is wonderful and my Wolof is coming. It’s always fun to be discussing project plans in a language you are learning when everyone forgets you only understand at most every fifth word. But as I said before, things always manage to just work out. My name here is Aida Diop and it’s quite remarkable how quickly one assimilates to this new identity. Everyone in my town knows me by now and I wish I could say that I know all of them, but since I am the only Toubab (white person) in my city, I am probably rather easy to remember. Never before have I been so conscious of the color of my skin and it has been a humbling experience to form an identity outside of the feature for which you are most commonly remembered…. But the hospitality of the culture and the protection my family offers me are remarkable and show an entirely different side of the Muslim religion than most of us are used to seeing in American media….
     As with everything else, all adjustments are slow and after the stress of American life, it’s nice to take a step back every now and then.”
     But you don’t just have to take her word for it. In its Chicago Regional Office Newsletter, the Peace Corps itself states, “During training, volunteers are taught the local language to be able to communicate with their villages. Having a French-speaking background allows volunteers to focus more on their local language during training.”

     Their newsletter also gave the testimony of another volunteer, Kasia Krynski, who also served in Senegal. She affirms, “French is the official language of Senegal, but Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, and Mandinka are also spoken.

     I spoke French with some non-governmental organizations and some of my Peace Corps counterparts, but Wolof is the most prominent language used on a day-to-day basis. My French-speaking background helped me learn Wolof quicker. French is a big influence on this Wolof language and many French words are Wolof-ized.”
     All in all, French is very useful outside l’Hexagone, and can pay off while you’re giving back.

French Students Dive Into Research

     Four French students presented research at the 7th Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance. Mentored by the French faculty, the students were able to present the following topics.

     Claire March’s research was entitled “The Grande Mademoiselle, Heroine for All Times”. As cousin of Louis XIV and duchesse de Montpensier, Anne-Marie Louise d’Orléans was a very important figure in seventeenth century France. Despite being the most sought out woman for marriage in France, she challenged social and political norms with her idea of a life without marriage where a woman could be in control.

Right: The Jardin du Luxembourg pays homage to Anne-Marie Louise d’Orléans.

     Lauren Eriks wrote about The Passion of Madame de Sévigné: Mother, Society Dame, and Writer. This research explored the complicated figure of Madame de Sévigné, a prominent member of the French court during the reign of Louis XIV and analyzed this complex woman overflowing with artistic and social energies.

     Amy Rollefson tackled the following question: Napoleon Bonaparte: Hero of the 1789 Revolution or Dictator of the Empire? Bonaparte is still a highly controversial figure. Historians debate whether he was a man of the people, or supported solely by propaganda. Was he a giver of civil rights to all citizens, or favorer of the social classes that agreed with him? A “soldier of liberty”, or power-hungry despot? This research weighed both sides of the controversy and analyzed his legacy.

Left: “Napoleon Bonaparte: soldier of liberty, or power-hungry despot?”

     Karen Luidens chose to explore Madeleine de Scudery and the Birth of Salons in France. This research focused not only on the life of Madeleine de Scudery, a leader of the Parisian literary movement of the 17th century, but on bringing together the historical context that shaped Scudéry, and the enduring impact of her intellectual circle and her writing on French literature.

L’amour de la Langue et du Monde

     The 2007-2008 academic year was filled with red letter days for the French Department, who hosted several wonderful guest speakers. From poets to pro-basketball players, the presenters all focused on a few common threads: the love of the French language and how French has brought them invaluable international experiences, both while studying at Hope and after leaving.

     Poets Priscilla Atkins and Kathleen McGookey (’92)addressed the topic of how French poetry inspired their writing careers in their joint presentation entitled, “The French Muse: On Inspiration and Translation”. French student Brianne Carpenter (’08) shared the sentiments that the poets expressed:
     « D’une façon, comme le français, la poésie est une autre langue, une autre manière de s’exprimer qui demande qu’on fasse plus d’attention à la vie qui nous entoure. Les mots sont pour la poétesse comme les couleurs de l’artiste : ils lui permettent de peindre tous les détails, les ombres, les sentiments, etc. Pour elle, l’action de peindre (écrire) est suffisante. Elle ne cherche ni à être la prochaine Sappho ni à devenir prof de français, mais fait ce qu’elle fait parce qu’elle l’adore et parce que ça donne de la beauté à sa vie. »

“I liked that these graduates both had a French major, but took such different paths after graduation. It showed that there are plenty of possibilities that come with a major in a foreign language.” -Mary Cantor, ’11

Above: An example of the graphic novels, or bandes dessinées, that spiked the interest of Wade Gugino.

      Wade Gugino spent fifteen years in Europe, twelve of those in France, playing professional basketball after his graduation from Hope in 1992. He spoke on, “France from an American Perspective: Considerations on Everyday Life and Professional Aspects”. His presentation stressed the importance of taking foreign language study seriously, highly recommended spending time in other cultures, and introduced the world of graphic novels, which are a personal interest of his as he believes they can be uniquely useful in learning about foreign languages and cultures.

    Holly Johnson (’10) was inspired by the presentation to leave herself behind and let the world in, saying, “If you are willing to get outside yourself, any experience abroad will be that much more fulfilling and eye-opening. You will be able to see the world with all its unique differences, realizing that diversity is a gift”. Katherine Wilbur (’09) could already relate to the benefits of having international experience: “My experiences abroad have already helped me get an internship at a law firm this summer. My employers were impressed by my language skills and the cultural knowledge that I gained through traveling out of Holland and my comfort zone”.
    The French Cultural Studies Colloquium next presented Holly Dustin and Kathleen Ludewig, both French majors from the class of 2006. Ms. Dustin spent a year in Nantes, France as part of her college experience, and decided to return to France after graduation as an English teacher, an opportunity that allowed her to again immerse herself in French language and culture and to travel throughout Europe. Ms. Ludewig spent a semester in Geneva, Switzerland, the heart of the United Nations. This incorporation of the French language into international affairs fueled her passion for the developing world, which has guided her post-Hope life. Mary Cantor (’11) saw the unending potential that awaits French majors, reflecting, “I liked that these graduates both had a French major, but took such different paths after graduation. It showed that there are plenty of possibilities that come with a major in a foreign language. It is reassuring and exciting to know that there are so many opportunities that stem from a major in French”.
    A final event from the year was a round table discussion led by current students returning from study abroad in France. This presentation gave insights, tips and inspiration to all French students who wish to pack their bags and say au revoir for a semester or two. Avril Wiers (’11) was certainly ready to pack her bags, responding, “All in all, the round table acted as an inspiration to study abroad. Even though I still have a year of lecture ahead of me, I’m staying with it for the promise of field research in Madagascar, and finally seeing lemurs in their natural habitat”.

Phi Beta Kappa

     The Hope French Department bid au revoir to some of its best and brightest in 2008, the graduates who earned the prestigious honor of Phi Beta Kappa, Stélios Alvarez, Jennifer Birkenholz, Brianne Carpenter, Lauren Eriks, and Krista Stanton. A few of these graduates shared their plans for the future.

     Stélios Alvarez will be working towards an MBA at Grand Valley State University. He says, “GVSU gave me the opportunity to become a graduate assistant and work as a full time market researcher for the MISBTDC (Michigan Small Business Technology Development Center), which is a partner of the SBA (Small Business Association), to help businesses gain a foothold in the region. My linguistic capacities and skills learned at Hope College will allow me to relate to a wide variety of clients.

     Brianne Carpenter will be teaching English at the secondary level in the region of Nantes next year through the French Government Teaching Assistant program.
     To these and all of the graduating French students, perhaps it’s not au revoir, but à bientôt.

From Hope to History

Above: Anne Bast

     Anne Bast (class of 2006) can testify to the unexpected benefits of speaking a second language! Her knowledge of French has led her to unexpected places this past year, including Malaysia, Italy, and of course, Paris! Perpetually undecided, Anne finished at Hope with majors in French, Art History and International Studies. After debating over different graduate school programs she finally decided to take a completely new (but she hoped, connected) direction by pursuing a Masters degree at the University of Michigan School of Information.

     At Michigan Anne took courses in both Library and Archival science and worked as a reference assistant at the Undergraduate Library, as a cataloguer in the Map Library and as a processing archivist at the Bentley Historical Library. She also worked as a research assistant for Prof. Paul Conway. The blend of scholarship and public service in the library and archives professions proved to be a great match for Anne’s interests, but she still wished to incorporate French in a more direct way.

     The opportunity came when working at the Bentley Library. As the primary archival institution for the University of Michigan the Bentley has for the last 15 years received students for internships from the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) in Paris, the national school that trains archivists, museum curators, historic monument curators, and archeologists in cultural heritage administration. The Bentley had never sent a student to study in Paris in return, however, since doing so required fluency in French.

National du Patrimoine in Paris

     When Fran Blouin, director of the Bentley, learned that Anne spoke French, it was only a matter of time before she had been accepted as an exchange student and granted a scholarship for the 18-month course of study at the INP. In Paris since January, Anne will continue to study at the INP, where she is specializing in archives, until July 2009. The INP program consists of approximately ten months of internships and eight months of coursework, focusing both on archives specifically as well as cultural heritage administration in a general sense.

French in the Real World: Evalyn Carter (‘60)

     La Nouvelle Vague in French cinema was just gathering momentum, President René Coty handed the nation over to President Charles de Gaulle as the Fourth Republic gave way to the birth of the Fifth Republic, and Gastone Nencini of Italy was the winner of the Tour de France. This is the France that Evalyn Carter knew and studied as a French major at Hope graduating in 1960. She has seen the country change since then, but has also seen French change her own life. Professionally, she remarks, “French got me a job with Air France and later, when working for the World Bank, a long-term assignment in the Côte D’Ivoire.” Having experienced the benefits of knowing French in the real world, she advises others to keep up their language skills, saying, “I always counseled students that a working knowledge of the French language is oil in the wheels of another major skill, particularly for work in Francophone countries”. But it’s not all work and no play for Ms. Carter. “Nowadays, as a retiree, I find [French] wonderful to know to better appreciate visits to France”. Overall, learning French: not only for a grade.


Julian Hinson, ‘10

Cette nuit, chaque heure à l’autre pareille
S’écoule sans que je puisse trouver le sommeil
Peu à peu tes images à mon souvenir viennent se rappeler
Je ne peux pas y échapper car vois-tu, ma jeune Afrique, je ne peux t’oublier
Une heure…
J’essaie de te fuir, je voudrais pouvoir m’évader
Mais je suis séduit par tes yeux qui me gardent éveillé
Deux heures moins le quart…
Chérie, qu’ai-je donc fait pour mériter une telle souffrance,
Mon esprit tourmenté poursuit son errance
Trois heures…
Je suis seul ici ma belle Afrique. Pourtant ta voix me parle sans bruit
Et même si loin de toi, mon visage elle épanouit.
Quatre heures dix…
Ma tête dans mes bras croisés, mes bras sur mon coussin,
Des larmes sur mon oreiller commencent à ruisseler et à faire des dessins.
Six heures trente-cinq…
Tu bouleverses mon cœur, je n’ai pas de chance
Je ne veux pas te perde à cause de cette croyance
Sept heures…
Je regarde la lune, ce beau croissant blanc
Mais aucune aide humaine ni divine ne peut m’aider maintenant
Huit heures…
Ma belle maghrébine, de toi je me languis
Mon bel amour, tu es la source de toutes mes insomnies.

Si Les Murs Pouvaient Parler

Holly Johnson, ‘10, Communications and French

Si les murs pouvaient parler,
Imaginez ce qu'ils vous diraient!
Ils voient tout, ils se souviennent de tout,
Toutes ces histoires rien que pour vous!

Ce sont des historiens silencieux et intelligents,
Qui s’expriment dans un faible chuchotement.
Mais si l'on reste tranquille et oublie le bruit de la rue,
On peut presque entendre leurs voix perdues.

Les murs des bâtiments célèbres et des grandes maisons,
Pensez aux Invalides, à la Bastille, au Sacré Cœur, au Panthéon
À la Sorbonne, à Notre Dame, et au Palais Garnier,
Tous ont été témoins d’événements historiques et journaliers.

Les murs ont aussi connu des intrigues,
Des mystères cachés, pleins de brigue.
Rendez-vous interdits et secrets partagés
Dans les pièces où de grands scandales étaient enterrés.

Des documents y ont été signés pour les nouvelles lois,
Des inaugurations célébrées par les présidents et chefs d'état.
Même des sociétés ont été fondées ici-
Car à l'intérieur de ces murs, des gouvernements ont été construits.

Baisers des amants, fêtes et funérailles,
Ils voient les larmes et entendent les rires,
Le soleil chaque jour se lever et se coucher,
Jours pleins de joie, pleins d'angoisse ou de bonté.

On oublie souvent ces observateurs toujours présents,
Ces spectateurs sages et silencieux, malheureusement.
On évalue les vestiges de leur cousin de Berlin,
Mais on ne prête pas attention à ceux de nos voisins.

Les murs connaissent l'histoire du monde entier,
Qu'importe le pays ou la langue parlée.
Des jeunes, vieux, pauvres, riches, ou nouveau-nés,
Pour les murs, point de secret!

Academic Achievement of French Students Recognized

     French students excel, and the French department isn’t the only department that knows it. The following awards were showered upon Hope students of French this year: The Junior Chemistry Journal Award and the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship: Amy Speelman; the Clarence DeGraaf English Award: Brianne Carpenter and Lauren Eriks; The George Birkhoff English Prize: Lauren Eriks; the Erika Brubaker ’92 Award for Promising Achievement in the Study of Literature: Karly Fogelsonger; Sandrene Schutt Award for Proficiency in Literature: Emily Wegemer; the Linda D. Palmer Memorial Award in French: Alexa Jansma and Claire March; the Marguerite Prins French Award, Stélios Alvarez; the Martin N. Ralph Memorial Award in Spanish, Stélios Alvarez; the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) Outstanding Senior in French Award: Jennifer Birkenholz; and Allison Hawkins was inducted into Mortar Board, a national honor society. Congratulations to all!

French Faculty Activity

     Isabelle Chapuis-Alvarez presented a three-hour workshop on pedagogy entitled “L’ABC et le B.A.-BA de la BD pour une nouvelle approche de l’enseignement du français” at the Central States Conference in Dearborn and a paper entitled « Je(ux) en images, ou l’exploitation en classe de français des récits de vie qui font appel à différents univers graphiques» in March at the annual meeting of the Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters at Western Michigan University in Kalamazo. While in France during her summer vacation with her family, she enjoyed sight-seeing and gastronomic specialties in the Basque Country and the Périgord, experienced social demonstrations with a truck drivers’ strike in Bordeaux, political excitement in Paris with the liberation of Ingrid Bétancourt from the FARC, immersed herself in the vibrant cultural life of the capital as well as had fun re-discovering Paris in the mythic 2 CV Citroën car.

     In November 2007, Brigitte Hamon-Porter Porter presented a paper at the M/MLA Conference in Cleveland, Ohio titled "Littérature des îles polynésiennes: du mutisme à l'indépendance" and another paper titled "Lettre à Poutaveri by Louise Petzer: A Response to Bougainville's Voyage autour du monde" at the Cincinnati Conference on Romance Languages and Literatures in May. Also in May, she was the external reviewer for the French Department program at Calvin College and taught French 101 online. She is working on two articles on French Speaking South Pacific literature and culture. In June, she enjoyed hiking in Zion, Yosemite and the Rocky Mountains National Parks with her family.

     Anne Larsen has enjoyed a good year of teaching, traveling, and writing. She taught a new course entitled “Contemporary France” and learned along with the students about the fascinating issues debated in France today, from the environment to education, globalization, and the “hyper-president,” Nicolas Sarkozy. She traveled to Miami, Atlanta, Kalamazoo, and Chicago for conferences in Renaissance studies for which she organized sessions and where she presented papers. Her summer travels took her to Geneva and the Swiss Alps. Forthcoming publications include a collection of essays, Early Modern Women and Transnational Communities of Letters, that she has co-edited with Eastern Illinois University colleague Julie Campbell and the help of students Holly Johnson (’10) and Brittany Adams (’11); her essay “Crossing Borders: Catherine des Roches’s Catalog of Modern Women Intellectuals” which will appear in the collection; and an article, “A Womens’s Republic of Letters: Anna Maria van Schurman, Marie de Gournay, and Female Self-Representation in Relation to the Public Sphere,” due to appear this fall in Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

The French Newsletter is published by the French section funded through the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. If you would like to be included in the next issue of the French Newsletter, please contact Brigitte Hamon-Porter at hamon@hope.edu. Thanks to Holly Johnson ('10) for her work on transcription, layout and design for this issue and to all who submitted articles to the French Newsletter 2008!