A recipient of the Alliance Francaise McCormick Award, Liam Duignan '17 studied at the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris in July. Liam, who placed among the top seven students in Chicagoland on the National French Contest took French language and civilization courses at the Sorbonne.
How did you find out about this opportunity? I was first made aware of the scholarship from my AP French teacher Mr. Brant. He informed me that due to my exceptional score on the national French exam (Le Grand Concours), I was selected by the Alliance Francaise de Chicago as one of the six candidates for their McCormick Award for Excellence. I was then required to write an essay detailing my passion for the French language and Francophone cultures and how I would benefit the most from this opportunity to live and study in France for a month. After submitting the essay, I went to the Alliance Francaise downtown for an interview in French and English. They notified me that I won the scholarship a few days later.
What did you do while you were there? Arriving in Paris, I set out to visit all the principal monuments and museums such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, the Bastille Day Parade on the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre-Coeur Basilica, Orsay Museum. Orangerie Museum, Versailles, and MANY others. On top of site-seeing, I attended French language and civilization courses which were provided by the major Paris university 'the Sorbonne'. From the courses, which were attended by mostly college students and adults learning French, I was able to study French grammar and history at a more in-depth and intensive level than in high school. After the first two weeks of living there, I became more accustomed to Parisian culture and was able navigate the city with ease. I would frequent cafes and spent a little time everyday in the most gorgeous park I have ever visited, the Luxemburg Gardens.
What did you gain from this experience? As a French language learner and traveler, I gained multi-dimensional benefits from this experience. Being a former European History student, I was able to appreciate the immense collection of significant artifacts and masterpieces from the world-renowned museums. I also gained some experience of living and studying on my own, which certainly will help me prepare for college. As a French language learner, I profited from the chance to plunge myself in a completely Francophone country which permitted me to use and learn more French every day. This furthermore gave me the ability to easily pickup some colloquial terms and phrases that I never learned in high school. Overall, through this continued use of French in my life, I have been able to strengthen my linguistic capabilities rather than diminish them. This connects greatly with my college major choice.
What are your plans for college? This fall, I will be attending the University College of Dublin in Dublin Ireland. There, I will be double majoring in French and Linguistics. I hope to become a something along the lines of a translator, linguist, or foreign language teacher.
Overall, this trip for me has been an extremely fortunate and wonderful preparation for college and my future career.