International Learning Experience
French Students have International Learning Experience with Author
Students Communicate with French Author
Students in Professor Stephanie Schechner’ s class spent an hour communicating via video conference with an author in Quebec, Canada.
Students studying French had a global experience from their classroom in Freedom Hall recently when Professor Stephanie Schechner provided them a virtual connection to a French Canadian author whose work they have studied this semester.
Students enrolled in "Topics in Francophone Literature" communicated with author Jean-Yves Fréchette for an hour through a video connection similar to Skype. Students from Intermediate French and French Conversation and Composition courses, Associate Director of Prospect Research Kim Braun, an alumna of the French program, and Susan Tsiouris, a Widener librarian who speaks French, also attended.
Fréchette participated from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Quebec, Canada. They discussed Fréchette's book of Twitter-length poems, "Ne sois pas effrayé par le pollen dans l'oeil des filles" entirely in French. The title translates to "Do Not Be Afraid of Pollen in the Eyes of Girls."
The book contains 140 poems of 140 characters, each accompanied by a photo. Many of the illustrations featured images of girls and nature.
"I was very captivated," student Joycelyne Kamau, a junior French major, said after the class. "It was very enriching for us."
Kamau said hearing from the author illustrated for her his compassion for the outdoors, appreciation for the power of nature and his views on the strength of women and girls. Hearing him speak firsthand helped her appreciate his passion for the work. "The whole thing was such a good experience," she said.
Schechner made the exchange possible for her students by applying to Rendez-Vous Littéraires, a competitive process through the Center for Francophonie in Quebec during the fall semester. Educators across the Americas can apply to the free program, which allows for academic Skype-like exchanges with an author. The authors write in French and live in the Americas. Schechner learned she had been successful in early December, and quickly made changes to her class syllabus for spring, to incorporate Fréchette's book.
"Finding a way to allow students to connect directly with a French-speaking writer was an exceptional opportunity," Schechner said. "This is not something students would normally get to do in French class. It was exciting for them, and I was thrilled to be able to provide them with a global learning experience right here on campus."