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Language gives wings to this senior

March 14, 2019
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LSA senior Griffin St. Onge boarded her first plane at 19. Few months later, she was on an international flight to study in Grenoble, France for six weeks.

“I’d studied French culture long enough, but it was so different at the same time,” said St. Onge, a Michigan native studying Political Science and French with a minor in Translation Studies. “Everything felt so new.”

Since then the travels and explorations have continued. This past summer, St. Onge took her French language skills to Canada interning for a member of the Parliament. Her duties involved taking notes, translating, promoting voter engagement and connecting with the French-speaking constituents.

As a native English speaker in a predominantly French-speaking workplace, the internship was challenging. Political jargon is difficult to translate, and St. Onge wasn’t completely familiar with the French-Canadian dialect.

“It was a lot of work, because it is important to be inclusive. To say the same thing in a different language, you have to be super cognizant of your audience, especially in politics.”

St. Onge credits the Residential College for preparing her to handle linguistic obstacles in her summer workplace.

“The RC has been really amazing,” she said. “The intensive language requirement is great because it forces you to speak all the time—two hours a day, four days a week. The professors have helped me become aware of the diverse class and study abroad opportunities that U-M has to offer.

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