By Dr. Eileen Angelini, Professor of French at Canisus College, Fulbright Canada Specialist 2016
I had the incredible honor to accept the award for a Fulbright Specialist project in Canada at the University of Manitoba from January 3-16, 2016. I worked with faculty and graduate students in the Department of French, Spanish, and Italian in the Faculty of Arts, and education students and faculty in the Faculty of Education from the University of Manitoba and the Université de St. Boniface, on the project “Francophone Culture: Literature, Pedagogy, and Additional Language Acquisition.” I also gave public lectures and participated in community outreach at l’École St. Avilia, a French-immersion school. Moreover, I was able to meet with faculty in the Department of History, the Department of English, Film and Theatre, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
It was the people with whom I met and worked that truly made this experience absolutely amazing. Even before I arrived in Winnipeg, Greg Smith, Associate Dean in the University of Manitoba Faculty of the Arts, made sure that everything was in place to ensure that I had a successful visit. He even met me at the airport upon arrival and after making sure I was properly settled in my B&B apartment, took me to the grocery store and bought me my first week’s bus pass.
When I went to l’École St. Avilia on Wednesday, January 6th, I was accompanied by David Watt, Director of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Manitoba. As David’s two children attend St. Avilia, he was the perfect person to accompany me. He and I enjoyed seeing the children in action in an immersion environment. I also liked hearing directly from the children how they like attending an immersion school (Grades 5 and 6) and learned that the hardest thing for them in attending an immersion school is that their Anglophone parents could not help them with their homework. For the group activity on Maurice Richard/Roch Carrier’s Le Chandail, approximately 45 minutes was the perfect amount of time to work with the younger children (Grades 3 and 4). This group surprised me when they said that Bobby Orr was their favorite hockey player (although a few admitted to liking Wayne Gretzky, not a single one mentioned Sidney Crosby).
I had another highly meaningful encounter with graduate student Patti Germann on Friday, January 8th. We met to discuss her research on Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais and how my background with the French New Novel and film, specifically how Duras’ work is representative of autofiction, could be of assistance to her. What was supposed to be a one-hour meeting turned into three hours that included lunch at Degrees, the entirely student-run restaurant at the University of Manitoba. Patti’s stories of her native Saskatchewan provided an unexpected bonus to my day. She and I also attempted to go to the Museum of Human Rights on Sunday, January 10th. We braved the cold weather (Patti has been quoted as saying that I am “fearless” with the cold but as a native New Englander, I grew up layering myself against it) with frozen eyelashes along the Assiniboine River only to learn when we arrived at the museum that it was closed until January 12th. Not to be deterred from having fun, we warmed up at the Forks and then connected with Constance Cartmill, Head of the Department of French, Spanish, and Italian at the University of Manitoba, along the river and proceeded to the Manitoba Legislative Building and then to Stella’s, a restaurant known for their omelets and jams.
On Tuesday, January 12th, I visited Krystyna Baranowski’s EDUB 3426 L’enseignement du Français aux niveaux intermédiaire et de la jeune enfance. These graduate students in education shared with me their goals of becoming teachers in immersion programs and how their student-teaching placements were going. Each semester over the course of four semesters, each student has to do afive-week placement. After having just visited l’École St. Avilia, which some of these graduate students had attended as children, it was highly informative for me to hear their reasons why they wanted to teach in immersion programs. Their fields ranged from physical education to biology to art. It was fun to share with them some of my research on Pawpaw French and Cajun French.
On Thursday, January 14th, I was extremely fortunate to meet with Brenda Austin-Smith, Associate Professor and Head of Department of English, Film, and Theatre. Our lively discussion centered on potential collaborations with Andrew Woolford, Adam Muller, and Struan Sinclair who share a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Development Grant. Their grant research on genocide, genocide writing, and the impact of images parallels my research on the WWII Occupation of France and the KKK in New England. Suffice it to say that I left Brenda’s office with an extra bounce in my step.
Friday, January 15th was filled with more class visits: Dominiuqe Laporte’s FREN 1190 (Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Maupassant’s La Parure); Drominique Laporte’s FREN 3850 (a special request after my successful Public Research Talk at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Manitoba, “A Little Known History of Discrimination in New England: The Ku Klux Klan Attacks on Franco-Americans in the first half of the 20th century,” on Thursday, January 7th); and, Louise Renée’s FREN 2680 where we had a highly insightful discussion of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Accompanied by Greg Smith, my Fulbright Specialist experience finished with a tour of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba with Ry Moran, Director. I highly recommend visiting umanitoba.ca/nctr/. At this site, one will find a vast collection of documents, oral history and other records that detail the systematic and intentional attempt to assimilate the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. The site is a clear demonstration of all the hard work and dedication that is taking place at the centre.
Greg Smith and his colleagues were fabulous hosts and I cannot thank them enough for all that they did for me.
To learn more about the Fulbright Specialist program, visit Fulbright.ca.
You can contact Dr. Angelini at [email protected]