Meet the Language Scholars

Language scholars inhabit interesting positions in the Reed microcosm. Each language house — Arabic, Russian, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese — is home to at least one scholar: somebody with at least their undergraduate degree who speaks the language fluently and is interested in teaching. Language scholars are responsible for helping the language departments in formal ways, but students are encouraged to reach out to them informally. Anyone can stop by their office hours or one of the language houses to practice speaking in another language, to learn about other countries, or just to make a new friend. I chatted with a few of them to find out more about some of the newest members of the Reed community.

Fanny, one of the French scholars, is the youngest of this year’s scholars. But her name will be the biggest, on billboards or in reviews, as the next best director of our time. After spending her entire life in Paris, she is here studying American theater and more specifically, plays about trauma, especially relating to 9/11. She becomes animated if you ask her about it, and she marvels at playwrights who can captivate an audience and convey profound emotion with a bare minimum of movement on stage. Stop by French House during one of its crêpe or movie nights to find out more!

A perfectly framed sunset over the Atlantic sea… That’s the one thing Mathilde misses most about her seaside house in Brittany, France. It’s her first time in the Pacific Northwest, and she’s excited to explore it for some new good views. Let her know if you have any recommendations! Mathilde wanted to have this opportunity before going on to get her master’s degree because she found her time as a teaching assistant in England deeply rewarding, and she aims to teach in the future. So far, she likes that Reedies are curious, passionate, and pay attention to each other. Mathilde is hoping to meet more students at the big Roaring Twenties party that French House will be throwing soon. Mark your calendars!

Robert is from Barcelona but has recently taught Spanish in Poland and Italy, although he notes how vastly the prevailing pedagogies differ from place to place. Centralized campus life and the abundance of flora and fauna at Reed are new aspects of school for Robert. He says he can sense a collective energy that is both real and imagined, and he’s excited to be part of the Reed community. He brings this enthusiasm into the classroom with Battleship, Jenga, and creative prompts to increase students’ confidence at speaking in a relaxed way. Outside the classroom, he likes music and travel.

Follow your curiosity about Germany all the way to Michael’s doorstep. After writing a thesis on youth culture and elite academies, his expertise now extends across different pockets of German society. Unlike the others, it’s Michael’s first time in America. He’s impressed by people’s attention to pronouns but disappointed by the pretzels. He likes the mixture of architectural styles on campus, but his favorite spot on campus is in the canyon. Most of all, Michael is looking forward to the good food and friendships Portland has to offer.

Fast forward a few years, and you might be able to visit Elena’s contemporary art space in Moscow. With a degree in journalism and a master’s in curatorial studies, Elena has already put together an exhibition in St. Petersburg about art in Soviet concentration camps. She is interested in fostering intergenerational community dialogue about historical traumas. Elena sees a gap of conversation in Russia around past atrocities, a gap which she thinks art has the potential to help fill. After living in Siberia for 10 years and travelling all over the world, Elena next hopes to make it to the Middle East because she has never been before. She usually travels alone on buses or hitchhikes with friends. Maybe you can reach out to her and plan her next adventure!

The Language Scholar program here at Reed has been going on since 1985 and has grown since. The newest members of the Language House community, the Arabic House, joined in 2009, and Arabian Night, the campus wide event sponsored by the Arabic House, will take place this Saturday from 6:00–8:00 p.m. And stay tuned for churros from the Spanish House on Friday, November 2.

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