An update from Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures alum Emilie Gilde.

“I graduated from Illinois State University in 2007 with a B.A. in French and went on to serve in the Peace Corps until the end of 2009 as a secondary education teacher in Lesotho, Africa.

Living in a rural village without amenities, I initiated youth clubs at our school to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic (nearly one third of the population) in addition to my teaching responsibilities.

I served on the Project Advisory Committee which oversaw the goals of our education program and made recommendations to adhere to them and improve our capacities as volunteers. Additionally, I chaired the Gender and Development Committee for which I wrote, managed, and reported on a PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) grant for nationwide workshops to engage youth and teachers in gender norm transformation, education about women’s rights, and most importantly critical HIV/AIDS training for them to take back to their communities. By the end of my service I attained an intermediate-high level of Sesotho language.

My French degree provided a solid framework with which to acquire another new language, Sesotho, which has over 10 noun classes! My time studying abroad (in Angers, France) also prepared me greatly. It gave me the experience of being a minority in another culture, learning to be open to new daily norms, and having the resiliency to bounce back from daily challenges.”