The International Wing’s French House in North Village I provides a comfortable space for students to supplement their classroom learning and is currently home to five residents, including French Teaching Assistant Charline Bordat.
Bordat earned a double license in law and languages from Francois Rabelais University in Tours, France, in 2016. Bordat studied — and continues to study — English and Spanish, languages she started to learn at age 11.
“I’ve never stopped learning them,” Bordat said. “I don’t want to stop because it’s been so many years — it’s half my life almost.”
Bordat has also completed one year of a two-year trilingual law master’s program and decided to apply for the French teaching assistant position when a translation teacher — and former Allegheny French teaching assistant — mentioned the opportunity in one of her master’s program courses.
Bordat said she has enjoyed her time living and learning at Allegheny and has especially appreciated Allegheny’s residential campus, which has offered a different experience from commuting to classes in France.
“Living in this community, I think it makes people closer, and I love that,” Bordat said.
Language teaching assistants are required to earn credits while at Allegheny, and Bordat is using that requirement to learn German.
Bordat said she is fascinated by languages and continues to learn them because they have the power to form relationships and experiences through culture and art.
“If I had to choose between law and languages, I would definitely choose languages first,” Bordat said. “It’s kind of contradictory — I’m shy, but I love speaking. I love being able to speak to a lot of people, and speaking different languages gives you access to so many things.”
Bordat has become a resource for the other students living in the French House, especially Lucas Proper, ’18, who applied to the Fre
nch House after studying abroad in Angers, France, in spring 2017.
Proper said Bordat helps him better understand style differences between French and English in essay writing and helps him grow conversationally.
“Whenever we’re together, we’re always switching between English and French, and I’m glad we do that because that gives us both an opportunity to learn each other’s language as well as from each other’s cultures,” Proper said.
French House resident Sarah Rogan, ’19, also expressed an appreciation for the in-house language practice.
“I wanted to work on French in a bit more familiar setting and a less formal setting than class,” Rogan said.
Rogan, a studio art major and French studies minor, said she decided to study French because her mom studied it when she was in college.
Proper’s decision to study French at Allegheny was also influenced by someone — a high school French teacher.
“It’s the cliche, but I had an amazing teacher and she really showed me what the French language, what kind of doors it could open up for me — culturally, career-wise — and I just feel a strong connection and bond,” Proper said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s something that’s always near and dear to me, and that’s why I have always pursued it and continue to use it.”
Language learning is a major component of living in an international house, but each house is also required to host a campus event at least once per semester, Proper said.
Last semester, the French House prepared food for the annual International Bazaar on Nov. 19 and hosted a Festival of Lights celebration in the Henderson Campus Center lobby on Dec. 8.
The Festival of Lights is celebrated annually in Lyon, France, in December and is a traditionally Christian holiday honoring Jesus’ mother, Mary. The festival is characterized by lights projected onto buildings and candles lining balconies and windows, according to Bordat.
Bordat said students at the campus celebration enjoyed French desserts provided by the French House residents — hot chocolate, chocolate mousse, crepes, gingerbread and almond biscuits — and crafted granulated wax candles.
The French House has not yet organized a spring event, according to Proper, and Bordat said they may try to coordinate with the other international houses for a larger event.
“I’m not really sure what we’re going to do this semester yet, but we’ll get the ball rolling on that pretty soon,” Proper said.