Tel us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, for the better or for the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
I have been in love with the French language since I had Sœur Louise as a teacher of French at Utica Catholic Academy for my junior and senior years of French. She was a tiny woman who loved the French language and imparted her love to us, her students. We didn’t just learn banal conversations. We learned to make up our own conversations about things that interested us and play them out in class. But we also learned to read the French classics and to write good French.
When I was in my senior English class, I was reading an English version of a book by André Malraux, the Cultural Minister of France. She encouraged me to read the book in French, even though it was difficult and to write to M. Malraux to ask him questions about the book for my paper. She helped me with my letter and my French grammar and surprisingly, I received a reply from M. Malraux answering my school-girl questions. Sœur Louise was always available to help and was kind and friendly. She fostered a love of the French language in me that has never died.
When I graduated from the school, Sœur Louise also left the school to go to the Sorbonne in Paris to earn her doctorate in French literature. I corresponded with her for awhile during my freshman year in college, but the busyness of college interfered with our communication and we lost track of each other. I regret that and think of her often.
Fast forward 40 some-odd years. I have forgotten much of my French, but I have a strange desire to re-learn it. I am currently studying it again and it is harder the second time around but I keep remembering Sœur Louise and I plod along through the on-line lesson and stutter my way through the Studio sessions with the tutor. I am determined to regain my fluency in French again and make Sœur Louise proud of her star pupil once again.