Friday, August 26, 2011

Roman Gaul: Paris to Provence

Dr. Jane Woodruff, Classics
 In summer 2011, with 14 other Latin and Roman history teachers/professors, Dr. Woodruff toured numerous Roman sites, both the well known ones like Paris and Marseille (originally founded by Greeks in 600 B.C.E.), others lesser known except to devotees of De Bello Gallico , like Alesia—where Vercingetorix led the last major resistance to the Roman conquest, and still others that were a delightful surprise to most of us, like Mas des Tourelles—a winery on the ancient Via Domitia,  restored in the 1700’s, which still produces Roman-style wines made in the Roman way (mulsum, anyone?).  We also examined Roman artifacts, housed in major museums like the Louvre and in numerous local facilities, and sought out other classical “survivals” dating from the seventh century B.C.E. through the eighteenth century C.E., but with special attention to the period from Caesar’s “Gallic wars” (the 50’s B.C.E.) to the reign of the fourth Roman emperor, Claudius (born in Lyon; he died in 54 C.E.).  At each site, museum, or venue, we heard lectures, including one by Prof. Peter Lethers of the University of Birmingham (U.K.). who has devoted forty years to studying the aqueducts built by the Romans to serve Lyon.  When not debating the virtues of this or that Latin textbook, or persuading a local to let us into a “closed” venue—such as the dry water channel of the Pont du Gard which we then walked, torchlight in hand, we were dashing off individually and collectively to see sites not on the official schedule, such as Chartres Cathedral.  In “down” time we took turns reading aloud from De Bello Gallico—in Latin, of course, with appropriate oratorical flourishes.  We took thousands of photographs for use in future classes, and documented artifacts and ideas potentially useful for our own scholarly work. We walked miles every day, climbed any hill on which a Roman ruin sat (and from which there might be a spectacular view), and came away with a heightened appreciation for 2000+ years of Roman-influenced French culture.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rosemary Loehr, French major, enjoys service-learning experience

Rosemary Loehr
Rosemary Loehr, William Jewell College French major, engaged in a service-learning experience in which she engaged her language skills (learning) to help others (service). Here is an account of her experience in her own words:

This summer I am working at a Refugee Resettlement and lately I have been working with some French speaking clients from the Central Africain Republic! Aside from being able to practice my French, I also gave two of the clients some of my extra French novels. For one of the clients, Valerie, French is his first language so he can speak, write, and read it fluently.  When I gave him my extra copy of L'enfant noir he became very excited and told me that he had read it a long time ago when he was school and he used to own a copy before he had to flee his country.

Valerie came to the U.S. alone because the rest of his family had been killed in CAR. He was living with a roommate (also from the CAR who spoke some French), however the roommate died earlier this week and so now he is by himself. I could tell that it meant so much for him to be able to have something to get his mind off of the recent death of his friend but also to have a connection with his home and his former life. It was really great to be able to share the book with him and be able to discuss what it means to him.

It is hard to speak French with the majority of our clients because their accents are very thick and their pronunciation is very different! So it is nice to have a client who I can understand and who can help me when I'm trying to speak with him! It's definitely really good practice, haha!

Well, I just wanted to share this story with you about my French connection I have been able to make right here in Kansas City.