By Kay James ‘16 and Chloë Bazlen ‘18
Unlike the structure in place at Pomona College’s Oldenborg Center, Scripps College does not have a centralized dorm for its language residents. Instead, they live among us in designated language halls which are, simply, hallways in larger dorms. Besides students living in the language halls themselves, it is easy for the larger Scripps community to forget that we have carefully selected and trained language residents to assist with language and cultural exchange.
In our last issue, The Scripps Voice briefly mentioned new members of the staff and administration. In this feature, we will highlight some new, yet potentially under-recognized members of our community: our language hall residents.
Allissia Calleau, France
Coming all the way from Bordeaux, France, Allissia Calleau is the French resident here at Scripps this year. Allissia is 22 years old, and prior to her job as a resident, she received an undergraduate degree from University of Bordeaux, Michel de Montaigne. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in teaching language, which is one of the main reasons Allissia became a resident.
“I wanted to teach French abroad to get an experience for my language teaching master, and Scripps College was looking for one student of my University,” Calleau said. Scripps has an agreement with University of Bordeaux and takes one of their students every year to be a resident. Calleau applied for the job and completed an interview before getting hired.
As a language resident, Calleau has many jobs. “I have to lead lower-division conversation classes and one upper-division class,” Calleau said. “I also have the French table for lunch and French Movie Night once a week.” In addition, she runs French Club and the French hall located in Toll. Calleau said she has many fun plans for French Club this year, most involving some sort of delicious French food. In addition to all of these responsibilities, she is attending some classes herself and, as an international student, partakes in international events. Calleau has a very full schedule and said that “studying abroad is like vacation compared to being a language resident!”
So far, Bordeaux said she is enjoying the college experience here in the United States. “In France, we don’t really have a campus life and we hardly hang out on campus,” Calleau said. “University is just for classes.”
This is an important difference since Scripps makes such an effort to make the campus a family rather than simply a place to go to school. “Scripps and the Claremont Colleges are a small community where we all live in our bubble,” Calleau said. To her, this sense of community is the biggest difference between here and France.
Bordeaux also threw in a bit of advice for all of the language students here at Scripps. “Don’t be afraid of mistakes and enjoy it,” she said. Motivation to get through these mistakes is critical in her eyes.
After Scripps, Calleau plans on completing her Masters in language teaching back in France. Don’t forget to go to some of the exciting events planned for French Club, or to join Calleau in watching a French movie!
Jessica Poletti, Italy
Italian language resident Jessica Poletti is no stranger to the Claremont Colleges. In the Spring 2013 semester, Poletti was an exchange student at Pitzer College. Compared to serving as a language resident, she states that “Being an exchange student is really different. You are only responsible for your studies and if you do something wrong it is all on you”. She continued that “Being a resident,” however, “implies a certain degree of consciousness of [how your actions affect others]”.
Jessica Poletti was selected via interviews with the IES Abroad program director in Milan. “After a few months, I found out that Scripps had chosen me,” Poletti said. “I’m so glad they called me… I think it is a really pretty college.” Her sense of humor was revealed when during via e-mail correspondence she described her hometown of Parma as being “well known for two tasty things: Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. Slurp.”
When asked for tips on how to succeed in a language class, Poletti said to “study abroad, always, if you can. It’s the best way to actually learn a language.” While here in Claremont, she added, “talk to the [language] residents, go to the language tables and other activities, watch movies and videos on YouTube, listen to music and go to karaoke classes”. She states that the ultimate goal is to “have a 360 degree experience - a full immersion in the language(s) you are studying.” Via e-mail correspondence, Poletti closed advising students to “take advantage of all the opportunities that are made available [to them],” which is certainly not hard to do at an institution like Scripps that hires live-in cultural ambassadors.
Laura Dorsam, Germany
This year, Scripps’ German resident is 27 years old Laura Dorsam from Berlin, Germany. Dorsam went to Phillipps University of Marburg for her Bachelor’s degree and is currently getting her Masters at Humboldt University. Becoming a language resident was a breeze for Dorsam. “It was less work than I thought,” she said, with the application process consisting of a few papers and an interview. “After five minutes of talking [in the interview], they told me that I would most certainly take part in this program.”
As a resident, Dorsam has a full plate. “I have to teach three conversation classes, and I have to take care of the German corridor and the German Club,” she said. In addition, there is movie night and cultural events, as well as Thursday night “Stammtisch.”
“I want to take my students to the German village, The Alpine,” Dorsam said. “I want to learn more about teaching,” which makes teaching conversation classes very useful. Laura also sees an additional benefit of residency: “It is a great experience to be a representative for my country.”
Being a resident places Laura in a unique situation. “I get to be in a position where I teach but also get to see what it is like to be a student,” she said. It can also make social situations a little odd, because she feels like a student herself but then “meet[s her] students at a party.” So far, life at Scripps is very different. “I’ve learned that many people here have a totally different relationship to resources,” Dorsam said. She is surprised that we do not have better public transportation, and that lights are left on all day and night. The school system also presents change. “I like the idea that you decide on a major but can still take other classes,” she said. In Germany, like much of Europe, students are kept on a more direct path. In addition, the students here have been surprisingly friendly. “In Germany people do not give compliments often,” she said, making Scripps seem extra nice.
Luckily for us, Dorsam has some great advice on learning a language. “Everyone is nervous in the beginning, but the only way to get better is to talk and actively use the language,” she said. She also hopes that everyone will study abroad, as the best way to learn a language is to live in a place where it is spoken. After residency, Laura plans on writing her Master thesis, but adds that “travelling to Canada and the world in general will certainly happen at one time or another.”
Elena Díaz Campaña, Spain
Because our language residents are relatively close in age to the student body, it is easy for them to blend in when walking around campus. Elena Díaz Campaña, the Spanish hall’s language resident, is only 22 years old and hails from Jaén, a city in Andalucía, Spain. For her undergraduate degree, she studied Translation and Interpretation of English and German at a university in Granada, which she describes as a “great place for university students” as it is “very touristy.”
Díaz Campaña went through a selection process via The Institute for the International Education of Students: more popularly known as “IES Abroad.” After making it to the last step in the application process alongside eight other finalists, “it was time for the colleges to choose,” as Díaz Campaña describes. “Fortunately, I was chosen by Scripps… and I couldn’t be happier.”
Díaz Campaña’s primary role is to assist Scripps’ Spanish instructors in conducting conversation classes while organizing activities with students in the Spanish corridor. She would also like out readers to know that “everyone is welcome” to Spanish Club activities, “even if they are not taking Spanish classes.” Díaz Campaña stated via e-mail correspondence: “I love being able to share my culture and language with other students interested in Spanish”. This sentiment contributes heavily to her willingness to open Spanish Club activities to all. Both Díaz Campaña and Poletti commented that the primary cultural difference they encountered were early meal times. “Spanish people are used to having dinner at 9 to 10 p.m., so 5 p.m. is too early for me!” Elena commented with a small laugh. Poletti, however, said that she’s “already used to it.”
As language residents, Elena Díaz Campaña and Jessica Poletti also share similar responsibilities. They both lead their respective language clubs, Spanish Club and Italian Club, while also hosting events. These activities include movie nights, cooking classes, and karaoke parties. These events are all intended to assist with language acquisition and cultural exchange.