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French minor leads to volunteer work in Burma

Illinois State University alum Addie CaDavid.

An update from Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures alum Addie CaDavid ’12, who minored in French while earning her bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

“I’ve been working at a tech company in Chicago called Enova. I work in the talent and recruiting department alongside a team of 13 others. While speaking French isn’t a part of this role, it is a skill and piece of myself that I find incredibly valuable. I think the process of learning a foreign language educated me beyond grammar and linguistics; it has encouraged me to move out of my comfort zone, view the world from different perspectives and communicate while traveling abroad.

Additionally, being a French student has lead me to volunteering with a group called Refugee One. My education gave me a background in cultural and communication barriers I would otherwise be ignorant to, and maybe even, like so many others afraid of.

I have spent 6 months working with refugees from Burma, who more often than not do not speak English or have a wide range vocabulary. I joined this organization as someone who has always been interested in different cultures, languages and geographies. I believe learning a foreign language comes hand in hand with frustration and community. You lose your words, sound ignorant, and constantly are making errors; however, at ISU I answered to my professors and classmates who supported and struggled alongside me. In today’s world, lack of language skills are not always greeted with courtesy. A foreign language is essential in creating a more supportive and diverse world. It is crucial in learning how to face and tackle barriers, while feeling unconfident and confused. To succeed you must open up and continue your practice. It also teaches us to celebrate our diversities and encourages this to be a lifelong mission.

As a former student I still pick up French books to read (alongside my dictionary) as a small escape from my own English head.”

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