Presidential Global Fellows Q and A: Margaret Elizabeth Self

August 18, 2014

Twelve first-year students in Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and General Studies were named 2014 Presidential Global Fellows in April, 2014. The students, whose academic interests range from Art History, French and Sociology to Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, and Industrial Engineering to Physics, Sustainable Development and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, were selected from a pool of more than 100 for the University’s new undergraduate global summer program.

Margaret Self is among those dozen students. Her observations on her experience this summer appear below in a Q&A.

What prompted you to apply for the Presidential Global Fellowship?
I first heard about the fellowship at an information session during NSOP. I was really interested in studying abroad as soon as possible, but I didn't know how to pay for it, so the program seemed like exactly what I was looking for.

What prompted you to apply for your particular summer program (i.e. SEE-U Brazil, Arabic Language Program, etc.)?
The Reid Hall summer program was, I believe, the only program in French that was applicable for the fellowship, and French is the only foreign language I've studied seriously and was seeking to improve.

What were the one or two highlights for you from your time here?
One of my favorite ways to spend my time in Paris was going to museums and cultural sights with another fellow. While of course most of the centers themselves were of high quality, what was really enlightening was our discussion of them. Both of us were familiar with museums in the U.S. and how different religions and cultures tended to be presented there and found that their presentation on displays and to school groups could be quite different. I think our discussions afterwards really helped to round out my evolving understanding of French culture and their relations to former colonies.

What tips do you suggest to students embarking on this program in the future?
I would strongly suggest they make a pact with a friend to speak French while they're there.

What are your academic interests? How did this experience have an impact on your interests, if at all?
My academic interests are French language and culture and early childhood education. Of course speaking the language and observing the culture fed the my curiosities in the first field, but I also learned a lot about education and how teaching is done in France. The connections that I made with the help of my advisor, Miss Cathy Collins, also answered a lot of my questions about how French as a second language education is carried out there. The differences are much more profound that I was expecting and really got me to re-thinking how we do English as a second language education in the States.

What are your career goals? How did this experience have an impact on your goals?
I hope to be a second language teacher in a primary school, but I don't know if I would prefer to teach English to French speakers or French to English speakers. I learned on this trip that both are much bigger enterprises in France than I had previously thought.

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Margaret Elizabeth Self
Age: 19
Hometown: Hamilton, AL
Major: French and Francophone
Degree: Bachelor's, 2017