Foreign language study brings student success at home and abroad

Friday, November 6, 2015

Andrew Jablonski '19

“The Global Dude: How a Foreign Language Puts You Ahead in the Game of Life,” one of the events presented during UNH International Education Week 2015, delivered just what its name promised, with a baker’s dozen of students sharing stories and images detailing how foreign language studies have affected not only their educational pursuits but their career paths and long-term goals.

“Learning a language is empowering,” said Phil McHenry '18, the first student to speak to the audience in MUB Theatre I, describing how learning German has helped him build confidence — and contributed to his decision to explore a new major and consider living in Germany. 

Taryn Flint '16, who is studying French and international affairs, also spoke of increased confidence as she talked about her goal of international employment and perhaps one day working for the U.N., while Kai Forcey-Rodriguez '19 described the benefits of knowing multiple languages and attending schools in other countries.

Claire FitzMorris '17 noted how studying other languages fosters the ability “to understand people on an otherwise unattainable level” while increasing open-mindedness and providing skills to open the doors to other opportunities. 

Several of her peers on the panel detailed just such opportunities, including Doug Cusack '16, who recently studied in China and hopes to work there, and Nick Lajoie '18, a physics major with a minor in German whose study of the language opened up an unexpected opportunity — skateboarding at a sought-after site in Germany thanks to being able to talk to local skateboard enthusiasts who knew all the details.

Eva Golden '16, who is studying marine, estuarine and freshwater biology, was able to use her Spanish skills during her work in Costa Rica during her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Knowing Spanish allowed her to communicate with other scientists and build relationships.

Devin Rheaume '16, too, described how his language studies opened new doors. As a business administration major with a minor in Spanish, it was his fluency in Spanish that caught the attention of the firm where he applied to work in tax preparation — resulting in a job traveling to Guatemala to conduct an audit for a nonprofit and the chance to immerse in the culture there.

And there’s Kelsey-Anne LeBlanc '16, whose study of Arabic led her to Morocco, where she volunteered in an orphanage and taught English to adults. In her future career, she said, “I want to help bridge the gap between the Arab world and the western world.”

Leo Durocher '17, who is studying Russian, Japanese and German, says knowing other languages has also given him the chance to connect with students who come from other countries to study at UNH.

Knowing how to speak with them in their own languages, he explained, “brings people together — making them feel confident, comfortable and welcome.”

Also during International Education Week … 


Rev. Jean Ngobo Segasinde

Rev. Jean Ngobo Segasinde discussed his work with the Rwanda Prison Fellowship Ministries, where he helped perpetrators and survivors of Rwanda’s genocide. 

Read more