Albion College has won the Senator Paul Simon Award for campus internationalization.
The city of Albion and Albion College have developed strong ties with the French cities of Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly. The National Association of Foreign Student Affairs [NAFSA] honored Albion College as the only private institution to win the Award. Other schools to be honored were the University of Texas at Austin and George Mason University.
Study abroad programs, such as the one’s that the Albion College French department offers, fosters relationships, both short and long-term. Students have been making these connections through Albion for years now, and co-president of Albion’s Sister City Committee and French professor Dianne Guenin-Lelle noticed the very special impression they can make on people.
“From where I sit, I see [the connections made] as a testimony to the transformational power of human relationships,” said Dianne Guenin-Lelle, co-president of Albion’s Sister City Committee and professor of French. “We have gotten this far because we have been able to establish connections with other people very far away.”
The Albion College French department has played a large role in the connection of the three cities. The department offers study abroad programs for Albion students, particularly for first-year students.
“We have made the conscious decision to do [these study abroad programs] in the first semester of every year,” Guenin-Lelle said. “In the French section, we go somewhere every single Fall.”
The triangular relationship between Albion, Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly is unique and special because it allowed Albion to form ties with foreign cities and learn from their culture but also teach them about our culture. Sara Sample, Sterling Heights junior, studied abroad at Université de Saint Quentin en Yvellinis [UVSQ] and had an amazing experience.
“I think the French department that we have here at Albion is really great, and we’re lucky to have professors that are so invested in students,” Sample said. “The partnership with the sister cities is great as well because it allows Albion students to interact with French students that are in our peer group. Without studying abroad, there aren’t really that many opportunities to do this, so this is an awesome partnership for us to have.”
The French department at Albion College has also impacted native speaking teachers assistants in a positive way.
Jennifer Perenchio, from Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France, spent time at Albion College as both a UVSQ study-abroad student as well as a native speaking teaching assistant in the French department. She attributes much of her current success to the experiences she had at Albion.
“I had a lot of awesome relationships with the professors, even if they were my bosses,” Perenchio said. “I had long, personal talks about my future with Dr. Guenin-Lelle, who told me that I should earn my Masters Degree in the U.S. Well, guess what, now I am doing my Master’s program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which was her alma mater.”
The Albion College French department continues to be an exemplary resource for students, regardless of their interests.
“I wanted to be a French major when I got to Albion,” Sample said. “I am trying to incorporate French into career in sustainability. I intend on attending grad school in France some day.”
Needless to say, Sample, as well as any Albion native, will be welcomed with open arms in both Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly.
Photo by Alex Carey