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Courtney Clum ('06) graduated last May with a double major in Engineering and French. Along with fellow engineering student, Rebecca Schewe, she started an Engineers without Borders (EWB) chapter at Hope College in 2004 and became its vice-president during her senior year. This endeavor took her with four other fellow students to Cameroon in March 2006. Prior to her African trip, Courtney had spent Spring 2005 in Nantes, France. This first international exposure prepared her to think globally and gave her the impetus for another world venture.
Courtney noted that to her the appeal of the organization lies foremost in that it gives "engineering students a chance to give back to the world with the knowledge that they have." She also added that "the projects [students] are presented with are simple in our standards but something so complex in other countries." On a personal level, she wanted to make a difference in the world. "I just wanted to help make this world a little bit better with the knowledge that I do possess" she said.
Once they were established with Hope College as well as EWB-USA, the chapter applied for an international project and became connected with a small community of about 500 people in Nkuff, Western Cameroon, with the goal of finding them potable water. "Because of lack of drinking water, this community is plagued with malaria, fileria, dysentery, dermatitis, meningitis and multiple waterborne diseases," Courtney explained. Lamnso is spoken in this area of Cameroon, a country where 300 ethnic languages are spoken. English and French are both official languages.
As vice-president, Courtney was responsible for maintaining relations with the international project as well as organizing all travel logistics for the group. The project has also become incorporated into the Engineering Senior Design Class at Hope College. Courtney mentioned that during the spring semester, she worked with two other students "in assessing the feasibility of shallow wells as well as developing a plan for the installation of these wells. A second group has been researching and designing different filtration systems for the community."
The purpose of the trip was "to assess the situation in the community" she said. They were able to drill by using hand augers in order to determine the feasibility of having shallow wells. Courtney adds that they “also tested the water for fecal coli forms and found that the water contained approximately 450 fecal coli forms while a lake in the United States contains about 30 colonies. From these results, we can conclude that the drinking water is what is making the members of the community so very sick." Another trip was planned in May with the goal to install two wells as well as several small filtration systems, provide education on how to maintain these systems and implement several health education programs in the community.
The trip to Cameroon was a life changing experience for Courtney and the four members who traveled with her in March. It all started when Courtney decided to study abroad; the first step being the most crucial one. After that, the world becomes a much smaller place and the path from Nantes, a major French city to a village located in a remote area of Cameroon easier to find. Once you step outside the geographical borders of your comfort zone, there is no telling where you will end your journey.
(Honors and Awards of French Majors and Minors)
Numerous awards in various disciplines were given to French Majors and Minors during the Annual Convocation on April 27th 2006. Courtney Clum received the very competitive Southland Medal, and the Senior Engineering Prize. Holly Dustin was awarded the newly created AATF Outstanding Senior in French Award. Anne Bast and Elise Edwards won the Linda D. Palmer Memorial Award in French and Kyle Williams was awarded the Marguerite Prins French Award. Erin L’Hotta received the M. Harold Mikle Prize for Communication and Sarah Quesada-Lubbers the Technos International Prize. The Mathematics department gave Daniela Banu the Albert E. Lampen Mathematics Prize while Kendra Stock received the Theatre Department Senior Prize. Daniela Banu received the Senior Sigma Xi Research Award for Computer Science and Mathematics, Kyle Williams for Mathematics, Courtney Clum for Engineering and Kathleen Ludewig for Computer Science. Finally, Daniela Banu, Anne Bast, Courtney Clum, Erin L’Hotta, Kathleen Ludewig, Abigail Rockwood, Kendra Stock and Kyle Williams were elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa. Congratulations to all!
French Major and President of Amnesty International
Kathleen Ludwig’s (’06) involvement with Amnesty International dates back to high school when she became an official member. She joined the Hope Chapter during her freshman year, was named treasurer in her junior year and ended her tenure on campus as the president. When asked why she has spent so much of her free time working with Amnesty International, Kathleen says she believes that as a moral and spiritual person, it is her obligation to speak out when injustice occurs anywhere, whether in her own country or across the globe. She thinks that human rights are something that many in the United States take for granted. “Many U.S. citizens cannot comprehend what it would be like to live in a society where people do not have freedom of speech or religion, the right to a fair and public trial, or where women are expected to be submissive in all aspects of life,” she said. Kathleen joined Amnesty International because she felt “called to educate myself and others about what human rights are and why they are important”. During the 2005-06 year, the number of events and members increased significantly. Kathleen believes this is due to the Critical Issues Symposium topic “Genocide in the Global Village”. The most successful event for the Hope Chapter this year was the ‘Focus Week on Human Trafficking” where four speakers spoke about the thriving market of modern slavery. Letter writing to respond to violations of freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assemble or the right to due process is an essential part of Amnesty International actions. To Kathleen, however, educating others on campus through film showings and discussions is also essential. Kathleen Ludwig graduated in May with a major in French and Computer Science. In the future, Kathleen would like to indirectly work with human rights through the field of International development by means of technology.
For the second year in a row, Professor Isabelle Chapuis-Alvarez has organized as principal director and stage manager a French soirée for students and the larger community including songs, skits, musical, and dance performances. Spring 2005 saw the first annual French Spectacle entitled “Douce France” which combined the talents, efforts, and abilities of over 40 French students. While some students performed musical instruments including the harp, cello, and guitar, others entertained us with their acting abilities. Others recited poems or interpreted songs encompassing 20th century French culture.
The title of the French showcase this year was “En
sortant de l’école” (Upon leaving school).
It was shown on April 6 in the DeWitt Studio Theater. The spectacle
provided scenes from all
stages of education from la maternelle (kindergarten) to le
lycée (high school). With over 70 participants this
year, including graduates from years past, the experience allowed students
from all classes to
get to know one another: one of Professor Chapuis-Alvarez’s main
goals in putting on this performance. To her, encouraging students of
French to interact is beneficial and fun for everyone involved. Once
again, the show included skits, instrumental pieces, songs, and poems.
The variety of scenes gives students a chance to showcase their individual
talents and share their favorite activities with all those who have a
common interest in the French language and culture.
Professeur Anne R. Larsen
Professeur Brigitte Hamon-Porter
Professeur Isabelle Chapuis-Alvarez
The ceremony for the dedication of the new Martha Miller Center was held on October 14-15, 2005. The building now houses the Communication and Modern and Classical Languages Departments, the offices of International Education and Multicultural Life. Among the participants in the panel discussions organized as part of the dedication events was Kimberly Droscha ('02). A former French major, Kim stressed to students and members of the Hope College community the value of her living abroad experience in France and the Czech Republic. Featured on the picture is Sarah Quesada-Lubbers (French Major, '06) who greeted the assembly in the three languages she speaks: English, French and Spanish.
by Elise Edwards (‘06)
Following my first semester of taking French at Hope College, I knew that I not only planned to major in French but also to study abroad. I decided to spend my junior year in France with IES. I spent Fall 2004 in Nantes and Spring 2005 in Paris.
In Nantes, there was the initial excitement and anticipation coupled
with the nervousness of being in a new place with new people and a new
culture. My host
family was wonderful in helping me make this initial adjustment. They took
the time to explain cultural differences and help me with my French. Nantes
is a university city and I was able to eventually feel integrated into French
life. I joined the university choir and participated in the conversation
club that IES held. The hardest part was struggling to find the correct
way of saying common English phrases that I constantly used. The biggest
boost came when I realized that I could understand the nightly news without
I took classes both at the university and the IES program center.
My second semester was just as fabulous. I fell immediately in love with Paris. I have always wanted to live in a big city and I could not have chosen a better place. I was still taking classes, most of them at the university but it was the experience of living in Paris, and especially living there as a student, that solidified my love for it. There was so much to do that I stayed after my program ended and still left realizing there was a ton more to do. With the wealth of cultural opportunities, you have to try to be bored and with student discounts on almost everything, it was mostly affordable. Spring is the best time to be in Paris: everything is blooming, picnickers emerge onto the lawn around the Eiffel Tower, parks fill up with runners, children and old couples, all enjoying the sunshine. It all sounds terribly romantic but I can count on one hand the numbers of days I wasn’t entirely thrilled to be living in Paris.
Studying abroad and traveling throughout France and Europe while I was there gave me a much wider view on the world and how important understanding one another is. It cultivated in me not only a deeper love and appreciation of French and French culture, but also of traveling, languages, other lifestyles and viewpoints and a desire to keep exploring and to keep learning. Leaving France was the hardest thing for me to do since by then it had become home. I still get homesick for France, especially Paris, and this has been a driving force in my plans to someday return. To be honest, the best year I spent at Hope was the one I spent away.
Hope College French students in 2005 and 2006 were awarded ample opportunity to engage in French events outside of class. The busy year began with a trip to "An Impressionist Eye & Architecture of Silence: Cistercian Abbeys of France", an exhibit at the Grand Rapids Museum in January. In February, our own Brigitte Hamon-Porter shared her recent research in a talk entitled "The Scarf and the Republic: Young Muslim Women in France Today." The Spectacle Français, "Douce France" featured the various talents of our French students on April 7. The speaker for the French Cultural Studies Colloquium in the fall was Dr. Judith Sinanga Ohlmann, a native of Rwanda and a professor of French at the University of Windsor in Ontario, who delivered a talk on "La Négritude" on September 16. A busload of students, faculty and community members left Hope College on October 5 to visit the Art Institute of Chicago to view two exhibits: "Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre" and "Paris: Photographs from a Time that Was". Another outing with twenty students took place in November at Calvin College where the theatrical Compagnie Claude Beauclair presented Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre.
As part of the French Events, French movies showings are scheduled in the Granberg Room throughout the year. Last year, A la folie, pas du tout (2002), Monsieur Ibrahim (2003), Les Choristes (2004), La grande séduction (2003), Les 400 coups (1959), Comme une image (2004) were shown. In addition to these movies, Professor Chapuis-Alvarez and Native Assistant Julie Kasper organized an ongoing Ciné-Club that benefited from a state-of-the art new entertainment system at the French House.
Professor Chapuis-Alvarez organized and chaired the session on "Les écrivains voyageurs du XXème siècle" ("Traveling authors of the 20th century"), during which three Hope College students made presentations. Senior Daniela Banu of Bucharest, Romania, presented "Un regard croisé franco-américain sur la France et l'Amérique contemporaires" ("A study of France by American authors and a study of America by French authors"). Senior Anne Bast of Grand Rapids presented "L'amour et la ville: la perception de Simone de Beauvoir de la ville américaine dans 'L'Amérique au jour le jour' et 'Lettres à Nelson Algren" ("Love and the City: Simone de Beauvoir's perception of the city and America in 'America day by day' and 'Letters to Nelson Algren: A Transatlantic Love Affair'"). Sophomore Stélios Alvarez of Grand Rapids presented "Les thèmes liés au voyage dans 'Courrier Sud,' 'Vol de nuit' et 'Terre des hommes' d'Antoine de Saint-Exupéry" ("Themes centered around travel in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 'Southern Mail,' 'Night Flight,' 'Wind, Sand and Stars'"). Chapuis-Alvarez also made a presentation, "L'adhésion de la Turquie à l'Europe: atout ou handicap?" ("Turkey's candidacy to the European Union: benefit or drawback?") during the session on "Current Issues in Culture and Linguistics."
Octavia Reese ('05), who has a double major in French and Classical Studies, was crowned Miss Michigan in 2005. The theme she chose to address was "Building Bridges through International Communication". She received a teaching assistantship from the French government to teach English in France for the year 2005-2006. Her new Miss Michigan title changed her plans.