Captivated by the small community and beautiful campus, Sidney was drawn to Luther on her first tour. But majoring in French was not her original plan. After challenges in chemistry, she realized she could major in any subject, take science classes on the side, and still get into dental school. She says, “My friend asked me what major would make me happy. And I said ‘French. Right after that I went back to my room and made the change official.”
Between her junior and senior years, Sidney interned as an assistant at a dental office in Togo, West Africa. There, she lived with a Togolese family and practiced her French and dentistry skills. She was completely immersed in the dentistry, including performing small procedures by herself and even pulling out a couple of teeth! “I got to experience the culture of Togo through time spent with my host family and the friends I made,” she says. “My French improved by leaps and bounds over the course of my internship. Since the Togolese generally don't speak any English beyond ‘Hi, how are you?' it was necessary for me to speak French almost all the time. Because of this, I was able to comprehend and speak at an advanced level by the time my internship was complete.”
Developing her French skills within an academic framework heightened Sidney’s ability to work in her current setting. Through the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), she works as a language assistant with Lycée Robert de Mortain as well as at the college with the same name in Mortain, France. “Academics have taught me to never be satisfied and to figure out what I can do to make something better,” she says. Sidney aids high school and middle school students to improve their English and strengthen their conversation skills.
But working in Mortain is not without its challenges. Sidney has confidently overcome them because of her experience with Reacting to the Past (RTTP) games and involvement with Model UN. “I typically hate public speaking, but with RTTP we delivered speeches in French in front of our whole class. This helped me become much more comfortable speaking to crowds and has made the transition into teaching much easier,” she says.
The RTTP games brought excitement to the classroom and also taught Sidney how to think on her feet and use French in real time to win debates or “do things like getting people hypothetically killed and overthrowing governments.”
Being able to travel and communicate in French-speaking countries has been a highlight since Sidney’s immersion in the language. “If you want to open yourself up to a future full of possibilities and learn so much while doing it, I suggest becoming a French major.”