Meghan Ball '12 will spend her first year out of college going back to school-and this time she'll be the teacher. Ball, who majored in international relations, was selected for the 2012-2013 Teaching Assistant Program in France, a joint initiative of the French Ministry of Education, the Centre international d'études pédagogiques (CIEP) and the Cultural Services Department of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. She will teach English to elementary school students in the school district of Grenoble, in southeastern France.
"I love working with kids and I think education is critical to a stable and progressive society, so I was thrilled about the opportunity to get paid to improve my French and spend time with kids," Ball said.
French Teaching Assistants receive a living stipend and medical insurance. Applicants must be proficient in French, and the highly competitive selection process favors those who possess the skills to promote cultural understanding between France and the United States. Ball, who earned her bachelors degree from Connecticut College and also earned a certificate from the College's Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), strengthened her interest in French culture and society during a semester abroad in Nantes, France. At the end of the semester, she remained in Nantes for a College-funded internship with The Simone de Beauvoir Women's Rights Association. She immersed herself in the issues and then integrated her global studies, internship experience, research and coursework into her CISLA senior project.
"I learned about the French women's rights movement, as well as the NGO [non-governmental organization] network," she says. "For my senior integrative project, I created the framework for a women's rights NGO in France that would rectify some of the problems that I noticed with the organizations in which I was involved, specifically fundraising and government involvement." Her plans for the future reflect this commitment to women's rights.
"I eventually want to go to graduate school, perhaps for public policy or nonprofit business, to continue my work on feminist policy making." Ball hopes to apply some of what she learned as a CISLA scholar to her teaching position in France. "I hope to encourage gender equality with the children I will be teaching. That's the great thing about feminism--I can apply it in any situation and help make the world a more equal place for everyone, men and women."
The French Teaching Assistantship is designed to strengthen English-language instruction in the French educational system through the establishment of a native speaker presence. Ball says she fell in love with the French way of life during her studies and internship there and ultimately wanted to return after graduation.
"The seven months I spent in Nantes gave me a tantalizing taste of French culture, as well as an emerging fluency with the language, so I decided to take a year or two to enjoy the French lifestyle and become completely fluent."
- Bailey Bennett '14