Name: Brittany Ebeling
Location of Study: Geneva, Switzerland
Program of Study:
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures
A brief personal bio:
As an International Economics and Peace Studies double major, my undergraduate experience has focused on my passions for romance languages, the study of migration, colonialism, and development economics. I have studied and conducted research related to refugee migration in Ecuador, Spain, and Senegal. At Notre Dame, I have participated in programs within the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and the Center for Social Concerns. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to apply my international interests in human rights and the politics of migration within the realm of French language study.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
This SLA Grant comes at a meaningful time in my undergraduate studies, particularly as I prepare use my language skills to construct a thesis centering on the experiences of Francophone migrants in West Africa. Furthermore, I view French proficiency as fundamental to my understanding of cultural nuances, literature, and politics that shape the lived experiences of people in the post-colonial Francophone world. For example, during my semester in Dakar, Senegal, the prevalence of “code-switching,” or fluid alteration within the course of a sentence between Wolof and French, constitutes a social signifier of hospitality and welcome. The academic and intellectual understanding I hope to gain has a common denominator of culture and shared language- one that I hope to access more deeply through intensive French study this summer. I intend to utilize French for fieldwork interviews for my thesis, as well as beyond graduation as I pursue graduate school and a career in the Francophone world.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
Following my semester of studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal, this summer language study immersion offers the potential for building complexity and depth in my understanding and use of the French language. As a result of this program, I intend to develop my ability to listen, speak, and write with greater detail and accuracy about my fields of interest, namely, development economics, migration, and climate change. Particularly as I will be completing my language study in Geneva, Switzerland, I aim to understand the role of French as a conduit of international human rights standards enforcement by multilateral institutions. I hope to improve my language skills to a degree that I can easily converse, understand and employ colloquial language, and build personal and professional relationships exclusively in French.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- At the end of my summer, I will be able to fluidly discuss complex topics such as colonialism, social movements, and human rights. I will be able to discuss such things with other students, professors, and professional contacts.
- At the end of my summer, my level of reading comprehension will improve to the level of understanding literature, newspapers, and journal publications in French, particularly for the purpose of informing my thesis.
- At the end of my summer, I will demonstrate a broader understanding of cultural and linguistic differences within the Francophone world, notably by making meaningful connections between my semester in Senegal and my studies in Switzerland.
- At the end of my summer, I will understand the role of French as an instrument within systems of international multilateral institutions such as the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations, and I will feel prepared to utilize French in a professional capacity in these settings.
- At the end of my summer, I will have significantly improved my writing abilities and will feel comfortable preparing professional and academic documents and emails in French.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
This language study experience will follow my two-month internship with the Governing Bodies Division of the International Organization for Migration, also taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. As a result, my plans for engaging with French professionally and in community settings will precede the onset of my official language study. I plan to take full advantage of opportunities to utilize French through participating in language swap programs offered in Geneva, attending cultural events in French-speaking areas of Switzerland, and finding academic communities and universities with events and lectures exclusively in French. Geneva offers a multitude of opportunities for connecting with student and intern Francophone groups, particularly surrounding interest areas tied to human rights and international development. In an effort to maintain my familiarity with Senegalese French, I also plan to seek out Senegalese and West African migrant communities within Geneva.