By: Erika Cox
Five IPED students spent the summer of 2017 learning French. Our resident Arrupe Fellows, Owen Fitzgerald and Therese “Tess” Hart, as well as Language Immersion Study Award (LISA) recipients Erika Cox, Margaret “Maggie” Hutchison and Sydney Kornegay attended Alliance Française to partake in a summer long language and cultural immersion.
Aside from offering 3 ½ hour, Monday through Friday intensive courses, Alliance Française provides various cultural and leisure activities to complete the immersion experience. Class sizes are small and the instructors are engaging, great at answering questions and conscious about allowing students to practice their speaking and listening skills. Students also take advantage of home stay services with a French family, ensuring immersion continues at home. To top it off, not only does Alliance Française have schools throughout France, but all over the world, so students can continue their studies regardless of geographic location.
When asked of her experience in Montpellier, Maggie Hutchison said, “There is a lot going on every day with festivals, night life, beaches and hiking opportunities nearby, shopping and many young people.” Yet, all this fun must be navigated in French, “because even the simplest of things like grocery shopping or traveling force you to practice your French skills.”
The cultural and language immersion is also a great way to network with international development professionals and maybe even catch up with old friends. France is incredibly diverse and opportunities abound to interact with people from all over the world. Arrupe Fellow Owen Fitzgerald, who served in Peace Corps Mali and has been playing the drums most of his life, even got to have a reunion concert with his band from Ghana. Miraculously, almost all of the band members happened to be in France for Bastille Day, a national holiday in France.
So, take the plunge and consider learning French with IPED. The summer immersion experience with Alliance Française offers a wealth of learning experiences for all levels. The courses are intensive and the opportunities for immersion are boundless. And while learning a new language isn’t always easy, the group always made sure to have fun while they were at it.