Julian Oreska ’09 works as a product developer for the toy company Bandai at their headquarters in Asakusa, Japan. Julian was a double Business and East Asian Studies major who also completed the Canon Corporation internship in summer 2009. (2010)
Category: Alumni Updates
Megan Locke ’10 is on the JET program teaching English in Japan. (2010)
Loretta Scott ’10 is currently working in NYC in marketing/business development. She started a Youtube series called “The Difficulties of Japanese” in 2007, and was eventually contacted by YesJapan Corporation, which provides real-world and online courses for Japanese langauge learning. She’s now contracted as a video producer, and creates youtube-style education videos for their website www.yesjapan.com ! (2011)
Nathan Revere ’10 is doing graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Madison in their Anthropology Ph.D. program, focusing on language and culture in Japan. (2011)
Peter Luebke ’05 is currently a student in the graduate program on Southern History in the American History Ph.D. program at University of Virginia. He has an article, “Maruo Suehiro’s ‘Planet of the Jap’: Revanchist Fantasy or War Critique?” that he co-authored with Professor Rachel DiNitto, forthcoming in the Australian journal Japanese Studies. (2011)
Pam Kennedy ’10 is working in bank examination with the Federal Reserve Bank out in Los Angeles. Her examination team will work with many Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese banks. (2011)
Mike Crandol ’07 is currently in University of Minnesota’s Ph.D. program in Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media, and attended Stanford University’s InterUniversity Center Japanese language program in Yokohama Japan 2009-2010. Mike is working on Nakagawa Nobuo, a horror-movie director from the 1950s and 60s who influenced the J-Horror boom. He has also written reviews of Asian entertainment on YesAsia.com. (2011)
Lauren Klaasse ’11 is starting a graduate program in Public Policy at George Mason University. (2011)
Jeff DeMars ’11 started a job at the Japan Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C. He is working as the Webmaster/Office Manager for the JICC and is really enjoying working with everyone, planning events, and updating the website. (2011)
Lauren Shaw has been going places lately– Slovenia, the Baltic States, Carinthia/Austria — and returning to the DC area.
After finishing a two-year Fulbright ETA in Austria, Lauren (German Studies, ’09) has returned to the United States and taken a job at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. as a paid research assistant. At GHI, she’s working with a team of scholars doing research on Transatlantic Perspectives (http://www.transatlanticperspectives.org/), focused on mid-20th century European immigrants to the US and changing perspectives of Europe. In addition, Lauren was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage the previous summer, where she co-authored an article in the forthcoming volume From Stage to Screen, edited by Massimiliano Sala, Volume xix of the Speculum series, published by Brepols. (http://www.luigiboccherini.org/speculum.html).
Often asked what students can do with a major in German Studies, we refer to students like Lauren who have used their writing, research and language skills and their knowledge of the humanities, German language, literature, and culture in particular, to secure rewarding work in exciting places. Lauren wants to eventually go to grad school, but right now she is building her skill portfolio, enjoys working with her “team,” and loving DC!
Homecoming 2011 Signup Sheet
We look forward to seeing you at homecoming this year! Fill out the form below to let us know we can expect you! Modern Languages and Literatures will host our homecoming wine and cheese reception in the Reves Room on Friday, October 21 from 4-6pm.
In the Fall of 2010 Casey Czajka started a PhD program in the Department of French and Italian at Tulane University. She intends to research the politics of death and mourning in France. In particular, she plans to study state funerals under the French Third Republic and the ways in which such public displays of grief were exploited by those in power.
Elise Thorsen (’06) is currently working on her Ph.D. dissertation. In 2013 she has been awarded a prestigious Cultural Studies Ph.D. Research Scholarship. In her own words: “I did embarrassingly well, even, and I think I have support in my department for a dissertation that extrapolates to an abstract level about epos-building and aesthetics from interwar Soviet poetry. Now, it’s onward (and upward, excelsior!) to a dissertation.” 🙂
Elise is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh. She completed Middlebury Summer School in 2006 and a graduate program at the Center for International Studies at Moscow State University in 2008. In 2009 Elise received her M.A. degree. Her research interests include Russian and Soviet Empire, Imaginative Geography, Stalinism, Citizenship and Recognition, Utopia, Soviet Film, Soviet Science Fiction, Yugoslav Literature and Culture (update: 2013)
Erin Alpert has just received a prestigious Lillian B. Lawler Fellowship for advanced Ph.D. research. Her new articles have just been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals Studies in Documentary Film and Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema. Her research interests include documentary cinema, GULAG studies and Holocaust studies. (update: 2013).
William Sinnott accepted his offer to Georgetown’s MA program in Russian and East European Studies. In 2011 Will received the Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Laureate Award.
Julia Osman (’04) will be returning to campus in November to meet with the students currently enrolled in Prof. Pacini’s senior seminar. In addition to speaking on Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (on this year’s syllabus for French 450), Osman will talk about her research and writing methods, and in particular about how she transformed an undergraduate term paper into a publishable article. Her essay, entitled “Laclos’s Novel Approach to Military Crisis and Reform,” is forthcoming in the Spring 2010 edition of the international journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction.
Julia Osman is currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is completing her dissertation, “The Citizen Army of Old Regime France,” under the direction of Professor Jay M. Smith. This work examines the transformation of France’s aristocratic army into a citizen army as an Old Regime, rather than a Revolutionary, phenomenon.
“I’m currently living in Washington DC, after having completed an MA in international administration at the University of Denver and 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa. I now work for Population Services International (www.psi.org) an international NGO that works in malaria, reproductive health, child survival and HIV in over 60 countries worldwide. I specifically support our programs in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Haiti and use French regularly in my job and get the opportunity to travel 3-4 times a year! It’s been a great learning experience for me.”
Ariel received a Fullbright Scholarship to teach English in Andorra and is currently working at the Chronicle for Higher Education
“I came to William & Mary as a near-native French speaker and I was looking for a program that could offer insightful and current commentary on French language and culture. Throughout my four years in the department there were always several fascinating courses offered every semester, and I always had a hard time choosing between them. My professors encouraged me to explore a wide variety of topics and let me choose the ways I wanted to share what I was learning—not only through presentations and papers but also through creative works and applied projects. The ideas and topics from my French studies often came up in other courses and helped me discover new lines of research and tie my interests together.
My French degree from William & Mary has put me in touch with a rich and diverse francophone community and given me the opportunity to explore many different career paths. The skills I learned by participating in student-faculty conferences, working on the film festival, and serving as a TA have been invaluable since I’ve graduated, and the support and guidance of my professors encouraged me to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship. I know that I have the continued support and advice of the department as I’m starting a new job after returning to the U.S. and considering graduate schools.”
Kevin Lonabaugh (French/Francophone Studies and Biology, Monroe student and Phi Beta Kappa), has just been informed by the French Embassy that he received an Assistantship for next year and that he will teach English in 2010-11 in a French lycée in Corsica.
“During my four years at the College, I decided to double major in both French and Biology. The decision is definitely one of the best that I have made. It’s permitted me to pursue a wide variety of interests – I’ve gotten to take the science courses relevant to my future career as a pharmacist, but I’ve also taken many liberal arts courses to develop interests aside from those which directly relate to my career. I’ve had many exciting opportunities through the William and Mary French department. I enjoyed taking the chance to participate in a summer study abroad opportunity through William and Mary in the city of Montpellier. That experience solidified my interest in continuing French and made me want to return for a longer time period. I’m going to get the chance to go back next year teaching English in Corsica through the French embassy. I’ve also enjoyed the different classes and skills I’ve picked up in my French classes. I’ve taken several classes which had strong emphasis on cinema, and my appreciation for movies and film-making in general has been greatly expanded. I’ve learned how to make films, which is something I had never really considered when I started out here. It was a wonderful decision completing a double major, and it’s made my experience here at the College truly a unique one.”
On June 5 I was ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Diocese of Richmond. I currently serve at a cluster of four parishes in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Virginia. I don’t use my French as much, but I put my developing Spanish to use regularly to serve our Latin American parishioners.
I taught French at the University of Richmond for over 20 years, retiring in 2000 I but did some night school classes for a couple of years after that. At UR, in addition to teaching, I was the Director of the Intensive French Program, hiring and training Drill Instructors, and I was also the Director of the Summer Study Abroad Program in La Rochelle, France. After I left UR I continued to teach at Virginia Commonwealth University part time from 2001-2006 and then really retired! I had started a Summer Study Abroad Program in France for VCU in 2003. Prior to my stint at UR I taught French in an elementary school, grades 4-7 and in 2 high schools. I have hosted students from around the world who get my name and number through whatever organization has brought them here! I have thoroughy enjoyed meeting and housing them.
Would you believe that one can combine language skills with teaching skiing? Yes, it is possible. For a decade straight out of W&M I used French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish with private clientele at Keystone, CO, part of Vail Resorts. Then fell into international bike guiding with Vermont Bicycle Touring http//www.vbt.com headquartered in Burgundy, France. Eventually combined Human Resources with both organizations. Now I head up the Employee Center at Keystone, which is similar to a student union. Later this week I’ll help 100+ international housekeepers on-board. To keep my French up, I loan my organizational skills to the local Le Cercle Francais. In my spare time, I am the director of the Center for Lifelong Learning for Colorado Mt College http://www.coloradomtn.edu/cll My true indulgence for CMC is offering Italian workshops. You have to make life grand! Feel free to contact.
Immigrated to Australia in 2004. Currently working as an R & D chemist for a scientific instrumentation company. Missed homecoming this year, but had a great time last year when I attended with my wife ( class of 1989)
Since graduation in 2003, I worked for two years as a legal assistant before returning to graduate studies in the language I love,
French. I received my Master’s degree in French in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and am currently writing my dissertation in Geneva, Switzerland thanks to a dissertation fellowship. The Ph.D. is not far off! I also have continued to develop my Arabic skills, with the help of a FLAS grant for study in Morocco. My work as a contract linguist for the FBI has allowed me to apply my language skills, and I am grateful for the foundational training W&M provided!
When I got to college, I’d completed my language proficiency requirement and was fully prepared to stop taking French, and in fact I didn’t take any French my first semester at William and Mary. However, I can honestly say that restarting French was one of the best decisions I’ve made since arriving on campus. I’ve learned first-hand that speaking French has wide-ranging benefits in many areas of study outside just grammar and literature.
By taking French at William and Mary I was able to apply to spend my sophomore year abroad in Lille, France, where I mostly studied European government and EU-US relations. This has provided me with an amazing ability to both greatly improve my French and to take a multitude of fascinating political science courses towards my government major.
I am convinced that it was largely thanks to my proficiency in French and my time abroad that I was selected for an internship with the U.S. Mission to NATO this summer in Brussels. I will be living in Belgium from May through most of August working full time in the Armaments Department of the U.S Mission to NATO, as one of about five undergraduate interns at the Mission. I will also be conducting my own research project on France and NATO while living in Brussels this summer.
Shannon has just begun her masters in the Regional Studies-East Asia Program at Harvard University. Her research focus will be modern Chinese literature, which she also worked on for her Honors thesis. “On a side note,” she writes, “you and the other W&M professors may be intersted to know that 4 years of W&M Chinese is enough to help a student place out of Harvard’s required language classes for the Master’s!”
Devon is finishing his master’s in painting this coming spring at the University of Indiana. He plans to continue working in the art world, and hopes to teach painting.
John describes his travels and studies of the past year: “After completing a Chinese major at the College of William and Mary, including a summer and a semester studying abroad in Beijing, I was awarded the Chinese Government Scholarship. Through this scholarship, I was able to study Mandarin for two semesters at Sichuan University in Chengdu. Sichuan Province was very enjoyable — the spicy cuisine there is famous across China, and I even picked up a few phrases in the Sichuanese dialect. I was even able to find some excellent coaches in Wushu (Kung Fu), China’s national art.
I am currently enrolled in the Language Flagship program for Chinese, which aims to create working professionals in a target language. I spent the past summer in Qingdao participating in language training for this program, using Chinese to study Sino-American relations as viewed by mainland Chinese. For the next year I will be continuing my study of Chinese at Ohio State University, and plan to go back to China in order to research the process of urbanization in China the following year.”
Here are links to a “slightly exaggerated” Chinese article about his experience learning martial arts and his profile in the Language Flagship program.
John spent the summer at the American Dance Festival at Duke University and performed as Tony in the mainstage production of West Side Story Suite while there. He is currently working as a free lance dancer in NYC and lives in Brooklyn.
Allie is currently working with ESL students and based in the Philadelphia area.
Megan graduated with majors in Chinese and English (High Honors). She is currently working towards a Ph.D in Comparative Literature with a focus on modern Chinese drama at the University of California, Davis.
Christopher is currently completing a master’s degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He is writing a thesis on the popular press in Republican-era China.
Michael Roberts (’10) works for the government. (update: 2010)
Erin O’Grady (’10) works for the government. (update: 2013)
Rosa Mutchnick (’10) teaches English in Samoa (Teach for America) (update: 2010)
Seth Lacy (’10) works for the State Department. (update: 2010)
Richard Jordan (’10) is a Ph.D. student at Princetion University. (update: 2010)
Pete Giannino (’10) received Fulbright Scholarship and will be spending the next year in Germany. (update: 2010)
Kurt Carlson ( ’10) serves in the US Army. (update: 2013)
Sarah Argodale (’10) is a graduate student. (update: 2013)
Jacob Shier (’05) Received Fulbright and taught English in Ekaterinburg and Perm (Russia). Received M.A. in translation from Columbia University. “Right now I am in Daegu, South Korea on a one-yera teaching contract with Chungdahm Learning. I’ve been doing lots of hiking and weekend traveling, and still read in Russian regularly, Anna Karenina being my current project.” (update: 2010)
Sarah Hutchison (’00) currently works for the Department of State. She got back from Turkmenistan in September 2008 and will be working at the embassy in Bulgaria from summer 2008 until summer 2010. Sarah used to work at one of the institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy. (update: 2008)
Karen (Dause) Romanovich (’02) “I think the last time I saw you was perhaps after my first year in Kazakhstan? I spent a total of three years in Kazakhstan, the first in Karaganda and the last two in Kokshetau. Then I moved to Wheaton, Illinois for grad school in Biblical Exegesis (where I was pleasantly surprised that Russian grammar gave me a head start on Greek grammar). Even more surprising was the number of Russian speakers I became connected with in the area. I found out about a small Russian congregation at a local American church, and began attending there as a way to ease back into life in the US. A year later (2005), a number of Meskhetian Turkish refugees moved into our area from Russia. I became good friends (and a ready resource) for them, and continue to spend lots of time with them.
A little over a year ago, I married Vadim Romanovich, the son of one of the Russian-speaking couples in the Russian fellowship I had been attending. He is originally from Latvia and I have enjoyed being a part of his family and culture. So, I do keep up with my Russian, though still with many mistakes.” (update: 2008)
Larisa (Nargi) Gervasi (’08) works for Chesapeake Regional Healthcare Foundation (update: 2010)
Linda Crossman (’08) works for the Defense Security Service (update: 2013).
Mikhail Zeldovich (’97) received a law degree from Harvard University and is currently practicing law for the US government in DC. (update: 2013)
Nicole Radshaw (’97) received her Masters degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Virginia. (update: 2008)
Melissa Preston Horwitz (’95) Foreign Service Officer for the US Dept. of State. Stationed in China (update: 2010).
Jenne Powers (’97) teaches in Boston area. (update: 2009)
Got her MA in Russian Lit from UNC, Chapel Hill. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Grant to do dissertation research in Moscow in the Fall and Winter of 2005-06. (update: 2008)
Jen Otterbein (’97) “After teaching Spanish for seven years in high school in New Jersey, I quit my job this summer to go back to school. I am currently getting my Masters of Divinity at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY. One of the families that is in my program spent a summer teaching English at Gerzen University in St. Petersburg where I studied Russian in 1995! They are the first people I have ever met that were at the same school in Russia! So we enjoy talking about the school and St. Petersburg. They are hoping to move to Russia permanently after graduation. Who knows if I will find myself there again when I graduate…” (update: 2008)
“Studying Russian at William & Mary was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and has truly benefitted me in everything I have done. Thanks so much for all that you do! Encourage your students to keep going!!” (update: 2006)
Rachel Mikeska (’99) recently finished a Master’s degree in Historical Preservation at the University of Texas, Austin, and is now on an Alpha Bank fellowship program in Moscow, where she will be working with local government organizations concerned with preserving historically significant architecture. For more information about this program, go to http://www.cdsintl.org/fromusa/alfa.htm. (update: 2008)
Pamela Mahony (’95) teaches HS social studies and special ed. (update: 2010)
Don Holt (’95) is currently the Vice President of Institutional Sales for TD Ameritrade (update: 2010)
(BA English, German): I have used my language skills extensively since graduation – I have been active in the SAP software and business process field for 20 years, first in consulting, and have now worked directly for SAP for over 11 years. I am currently a Senior Director, focusing on solution marketing, and use my German language skills every day, both written and verbal, and have contributed to articles and books in both English and German languages. (Updated 2010)
(BA, MA, ED French/Elem.Ed., Museum Education): Currently I am a French Tutor ! 🙂 (Updated 2010)
(BA Hispanic Studies & International Relations): I graduated from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in May ’10 and was admitted to practice law in Indiana on October 15th. I work at a law firm near my home town and am currently applying to the Illinois bar so that I can be licensed in both states. I worked for a migrant farmworker legal project during law school and have already had several opportunities to use Spanish in my practice. In a few months I’ll be Patricia R. Hass! (Updated 2010)
(BA International Relations & French): Foreign Service Officer serving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia until summer 2011. (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish & Government): Enjoying living in Austin, Texas with my husband Eric, my 4 year old son, Will and our black lab Jake. I’m afraid my Spanish has been limited to foreign films as of late, but we did have our son in a bilingual co-operative preschool for some time, so I had some chance to learn “kid” vocabulary I hadn’t at W&M (slide, swings, etc). (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish): I’ve opened my own solo legal practice in Arlington Virginia, focused on guardian ad litem work for children and criminal defense work (mostly court appointed) for Spanish speaking immigrants. (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish/Government): My family was recently profiled here:
http://www.holycrosshealth.org/newsletters_story_pregnancy.htm (Updated 2010)
(BA German): I am not using my German major very much these days, though occasionally I’ll tutor a student in German. After graduation I had a Fulbright to Germany – an awesome experience! I studied at the Teacher’s College in Freiburg. After my time there, I arranged to student teach at the American International School in Vienna, Austria through Lockhaven State University in PA. That led to my getting a full time job teaching German in the Elementary School there two years later. I worked there two years until I decided to come back to the States to begin having a family. Since 1987 I have been working as a tutor of multiple subjects including German, French and Spanish (the latter two I learned exclusively at W&M). I have traveled extensively in Europe, and now two of my children are very interested in languages. My daughter is majoring in German at Oberlin and will spend this coming year in Hamburg. My son is at W&M taking Chinese and is close to fluent in Spanish. Languages are certainly a strong interest in our family! We all love to travel and to get to know people in other cultures. (Updated 2010)
(BA French): I have my own greeting card and design business (Fast Snail Greetings & Design). One of my “specialities” is French motifs. People love the Eiffel Tower! (Updated 2010)
(BA Middle Eastern Studies): I might be starting graduate school at Georgetown next semester! (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish): I’m currently getting my Spanish licenciatura here at the University of Valencia. I’ve lived in Valencia for 12 years and would love to help any W&M students who are here and need an American contact. (Updated 2010)
(BBA Marketing, German Studies): Married Scott Wirgau in July 2010 (Updated 2010)
(BA Middle Eastern Studies, Psychology): I am currently an M.A. Candidate in the Arab Studies program at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. (Updated 2010)
(BA French): Getting to homecoming at W&M is never easy. I am an Associate Professor of French at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. I am also currently serving as the Chair of the Foreign Languages and Literature Department. I can only imagine all the work gone into setting up this website – good job! Have a great time at homecoming. (Updated 2010)
(BA Spanish) I received my Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Catholic University this May. I am working as an assistant professor of Spanish at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. I hope to join you at Homecoming another year. (Updated 2010)
(BA Global & East Asian Studies): In the fall, Chris will be heading to Shika, Ishikawa, Japan to teach English in Junior High and Elementary schools.(Updated 2010)
(BA French): I work with several American study abroad programs in Aix-en-Provence, France. Enjoy seeing W&M students in my groups! (Updated 2010)
(BS Biology and Hispanic Studies): I’m in the process of applying to graduate school for Latin American Studies and planning on going to Brazil in January for six months. (Updated 2010)
(BA French & History): After teaching English for two years in France, I returned to the U.S. for grad school. I finished my master’s degree in 2004 and am nearly finished with the coursework for my PhD in education.
[Story by Soyoung Hwang ’11 and David Williard;
March 17, 2010; http://www.wm.edu/as/news/2010/hibbs_10.php]
Kate Hibbs ’10 knew the many lessons of service before going to the Eastern Shore to serve as a migrant-health outreach worker last summer. Her experience as a stand-out Sharpe community scholar at the College prepared her academically; her experience serving migrant needs in Chicago gave her on-the-ground experience. Still, she felt she stumbled.
“If you’re not aware of your privilege, your service is patronizing,” she said.
Hibbs worked with pregnant women within the migrant community through an internship with Rural Family Development, one of two Eastern Shore agencies that maintains a memorandum of understanding with the Hispanic Studies department at William & Mary. Her primary tasks were to counsel women about pre-natal health practices and to help ensure their access to the medical resources available to them
Hibbs found that the need to acknowledge her own privilege relative to those she was serving became a theme underlying her work. Unknown to her at first, most of the women with whom she would work were from rural, southern Mexico and identified as part of an indigenous culture rather than as “Mexican.” Tensions arose due to the language barrier.
“We’re speaking Spanish with each other as our second language, so naturally there’s communication breakdown. … It’s hard to establish that legitimacy and trust,” Hibbs said.
Hibbs is the first to admit she was “not an expert in pregnancy,” and so being in a situation where she had come in as an “expert” to educate this woman forced her to evaluate her position in relation to that of the pregnant woman.
“I didn’t realize that my command of Spanish was better than hers, and, for her, that’s intimidating because, as an American, I represent the oppressor. … I’m in this privileged position,” Hibbs explained.
Despite what she calls her “folly and rudeness” in going into the woman’s home unprepared for this challenge, Hibbs found an effective way to bridge the gap by asking the pregnant woman to teach her some “Misteko,” the indigenous dialect.
“My interest in her culture, in her background, was huge because not even people from her country take an interest in her culture, and so to have someone do that is not only novel, but for her incredibly empowering,” Hibbs said. “That I teach her and she can teach me is empowering for her and humbling for myself. It’s not just understanding their perspective; it’s truly identifying with their needs.”
Hibbs’ ability to pro-actively navigate those tensions resonates with her faculty advisor, Jonathan Arries, associate professor of Hispanic Studies at William & Mary. “She is an amazing student and an incredible person,” Arries said. “The character of Kate that I keep coming back to is her generosity of spirit. It is the kind of thing we seek to cultivate in the humanities. She is the kind of person on whom you can rely to do what needs to be done, and more. She is a critical thinker who has amazing organizational skills.”
Back on campus, Hibbs continues to nurture the genuine bonds of identity forged with many of the women with whom she worked. She identifies with their struggles to secure health advice and care, as well as with their general struggles to nurture families in situations that seem, at times, unfriendly toward them.
“They call me all the time! I love it,” Hibbs said. “Pregnancy is such an important part of a woman’s life. The fact that I shared it with them, they want to share it with me.”
Joe Zaccaria (class of 1981) writes: “If not for my French studies at W&M . . . I probably wouldn’t have known of Montpellier other than as a three-minute train station stop on the way to Carcassonne or Barcelona. I wouldn’t have discovered the joys of the landscapes, language, “vieilles pierres”, and people of Languedoc and Provence. I wouldn’t have needed to find a way to get back to France after my junior year, and I wouldn’t have had my W&M professors to help me get a French government teaching assistantship in Marseille, so I wouldn’t have lived there for three years. I wouldn’t have met the people there who made me think it would me fun to live in Denmark, so I wouldn’t have been in Copenhagen teaching English and French for three years. I wouldn’t have met the French friend there who introduced me to my Canadian wife, so I wouldn’t have lived in Ontario for a year (which I could do by getting a work permit to teach French) while I applied to law schools. I wouldn’t have gone to Michigan Law School because it was closest to Ontario, and I wouldn’t have moved back to Canada with my wife for good after practicing law for a few years in the States. So I wouldn’t be in Southern Ontario now, and I probably wouldn’t be back to my first love, teaching (which I first did as an “apprentice teacher” under Professor Cloutier in ’78-’79 and ’80-‘81). I wouldn’t be so happy teaching Grade 5 and 6 in a really good French Immersion school, and I wouldn’t have a wife and daughter who understand (well, sort of) why there are still lavender buds in the pocket of my jacket from our trip to France three years ago.”
Monica Loveley (’05) writes from Guyane: “I’m working right now in Cayenne, French Guiana, the capitol of the only French department in South America. I teach English to students from ages 10 to 21, mostly children of immigrants from Suriname, Brazil, Haiti, Dominica, British Guyana, and the metropole. Here is complete immersion in the French language, in a culture and a place completely its own. Every day I wake under my mosquito net and my first thoughts are in French; I get out of bed and I sweat; I go to school and I sweat; I leave school and the steering wheel of my car burns my hands and so I drive with my fingertips, dodging students and bikes and trucks blasting reggae as I careen through the vibrant pastel slums. I love the work I’m doing here and only wish I had more. In my inordinate amount of free time I’m learning Portuguese and travelling as much as possible, having just gotten back from spending a week in Paris, and spending three weeks in the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe before arriving in French Guiana in late September.”
Drew Johnston (’05) is spending seven months in 2005 and 2006 as an “Assistant de Langue Vivante” in the French overseas department of Réunion, a tropical island located 500 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. He works 12 hours a week in a high school and middle school with small groups of nine to fifteen students. Réunion is an island rich in both culture and natural wonders, including the most active volcano in the world. When Drew isn’t at work, he spends his time on the beach, taking hikes in the mountains, and learning all there is to know about the island’s unique cuisine. Applicants to this program can request to be placed in any department in mainland France or in any of its four DOMs (Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, or French Guiana). Information on the program can be found on the French embassy website at: http://www.info-france-usa.org/visitingfrance/teach.asp. Anyone interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should also feel free to contact Drew at email@example.com if they have any questions or concerns.
Clara Odell ’04 writes about her experiences in France: “Returning to France as a teaching assistant was, for me, the perfect choice of what to do after graduation. My time in Albi was fulfilling in terms of gaining teaching experience and living in a beautiful Southwestern French town, but it also, in combination with my junior year abroad in Montpellier, clinched my realisation that speaking French and being immersed in French and Francophone culture is a necessity for whatever I do in life. My goal for next year is to study Francophone Literature in Paris, and later down the road get a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, hopefully looking into the role of culture and cross-cultural communication in conflict situations. So basically, to sum it all up, I really like baguettes and couscous, and that’s why I keep going back.”
In a letter from Niger, Katie Leach-Kemon ’04 reflects upon her current work in the Peace Corps. In particular, she discusses the relevance of last year’s honors thesis research on French women in the eighteenth-century public sphere. Katie writes: “In my senior honors thesis, I explored popular discussion about prostitutes as a social problem in 18th-century France. Much of this discussion was rooted in a general fear concerning women’s participation and subsequent influence in the public sphere. Today, one year later, I am working as a health volunteer in a highly religious Muslim community in Niger. The other day, a woman in my town was arrested on charges of prostitution. The punishment? The town officials shaved her head. The pages of the honors thesis that I wrote at William and Mary were flashing before my eyes: shaving the heads of prostitutes was a common punishment in early 18th-century France. Not only was the punishment similar, but also the Nigerian officials’ attitude towards the prostitute mirrored the attitudes of 18th-century French society. “What happened to the man who was found with her?” I asked. “Nothing. It is the prostitute who must be punished since she wanders around and seduces the men, causing them to sin,” I was told. Working in Niger has provided me with an incredible experience to work and research at the forefront of the the fight for women’s rights. After my two-year service is complete, I plan to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Development with a concentration in Gender Studies.”
Cybelle McFadden Wilkens ’97 has just defended her PhD in Romance Studies at Duke University. While at William & Mary, Cybelle wrote an honors thesis in French entitled “Imagining the Impossible: Alternative Visions and Representations of Women and Their Desire in Films By Kurys, Varda, and Akerman.” After graduation, she conducted research in Brussels as a Fulbright scholar. Cybelle’s doctoral dissertation focuses on “Women’s Artistic Expression: Reflexivity, Daily Life, and Self-Representation in Contemporary France.” She has also published an article entitled “Body, Text, and Language: Wittig’s Struggle For The Universal in Les Guérillères” in Women in French Studies 12 (2004). Cybelle has just accepted a Visiting Assistant Professorship of French at the Georgia Institute of Technology. We wish her all the best!