Two of our graduating French majors, Simon Ferry and Cecilia Ward have been accepted to the prestigious Teaching Assistant Program in France during the 2022-2023 school year.
Simon, a History and French double major from Kirkland, WA will be teaching at a secondary school in the Académie de Amiens. Simon started taking French in high school and kept taking French courses as he realized how much he “loved learning the language.” Simon says he has had many influences amongst his French professors but his favorite courses was FRENCH 420 with Professor Louisa Mackenzie, which focused on French science fiction and the “ways science fiction, history, and contemporary society are all linked.” He also would like to recognize Professor Hannah Frydman for allowing him to learn “about people in France’s history who have been underrepresented in the historical archive.” Finally he thanks Professor Richard Watts for opening his eyes to the field of Translation Studies and “just how important this field is is for communication between different cultures.”
Simon developed a strong interest in teaching during his time at the UW and his tentative plan is to come back from the TAPIF next year and start a Master’s in secondary teaching. Originally, he thought he would teach History but now he is considering French as he has been inspired by the number of “great teachers” he has had at UW. Simon completed a History Honors thesis on the French motivations during the Suez Crisis of 1956, which combined historical research with his French language skills. In recognition of his academic excellence the Department of French & Italian Studies nominated Simon for the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal.
Studying French he says has been “been tremendously valuable” and allowed him to meet new people and help him feel like he belonged when started at the UW. “Even when the pandemic threw everything into chaos, the consistently warm and supportive environment of my French classes made a generally difficult time better” he says. Simon recommends showing up to classes and getting to know your classmates and professors as the “best way to learn a language is through practice, and the best way to practice is with other people he says “not only do connections help with language learning, they also make it more fun!”
Cecilia Ward, a double major in French and Anthropology from Palo Alto, CA will be teaching at a secondary school in Nantes. She has been always interested in “learning about different cultures and is intrigued with how language shapes culture and our understandings of the world.” Cecilia says that Professors Maya Smith, Louisa Mackenzie, and Richard Watts have influenced her immensely and shaped her “perception of France, the French language, and French culture both abroad and in the metropole.” She says that her time studying French at the UW has expanded her “understanding of how international communities have evolved, engage with each other, and how language plays a role in creating identity both at the local and international levels.” For her academic excellence Cecilia was recently accepted as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
After Cecilia completes the TAPIF, she is thinking of applying to graduate school and is interested in “pursuing research in the digital sphere, on how technology influences how people shape their identity and circulate (dis)information.”
Cecilia thinks “learning another language is sort of like a superpower in a way, another language opens up new ways of thinking and understanding the world, and can allow you to engage with so many more people around the world.” When you study languages she says “you also get to meet a lot of people who are similarly interested and love to practice their language skills” Cecilia notes that the courses she has taken within the French department and people she has met—both professors and classmates—"have been a pivotal part of my UW experience.” Through studying French she has made “close friendships and connections with professors that have shaped who and where I am today.”