Alumni Reflections

Ruth McDonough '08

Damascus, Syria
Center for Arabic Study Abroad Fellow

Ruth McDonough '08

 

Understanding Arabic has been the key to entering and understanding Arab cultures. I came to recognize the linguistic exchanges as reflective of the culture as a whole. For example, in Arabic, practically every nicety, greeting, or compliment cannot function as a phrase spoken by one person and heard by a second. There’s always an answer from the listener given back to the original speaker. I love experiencing the interdependence of Arab culture though language.


Alicia Muñoz '03

St. Paul, Minn.
Assistant professor of Hispanic studies, Macalester College

Alicia Muñoz '03

Studying Latin American literature allowed me to engage with discourses of gender and class that resonated with my own culture and identity as a woman. I learned to consider the social and political implications of the texts I was reading. At Swarthmore, I learned not only how to comprehend, but how to interpret.

 


Jeff McManus'09

Sarasota, Fla.
Economics major, art history minor

Jeff McManus'09

All three of my Russian literature courses were enjoyable, even exciting, and thought-provoking. They not only helped me gain an appreciation for the literature and culture of the period being described in the books we read but also a deeper understanding of the philosophical and psychological issues with which humanity has and will always struggle.

 


Ben Van Zee '11

Pennington Gap, Va.
Honors history major, honors German minor

Ben Van Zee '11

The professors actively stimulate the German-speaking community on campus. They participate in the weekly “Deutsch Tisch” (German language table) and help us plan events for the German Club. Within the department, it’s accepted that everyone is learning together, which makes for a very supportive environment for a novice German speaker like me.

 


Christopher Ward '05

Ann Arbor, Mich.
Graduate student, Program in Survey Methodology, University of Michigan

Christopher Ward '05

French and Francophone studies seminars were both intense and enthralling—we often discussed literature for the entire afternoon. The faculty unfailingly pushed me to develop ever more rigorously and more carefully my arguments and ideas. The intellectual skills I learned as a major in Francophone studies prepared me well for my graduate school experience.

 


Fraser Tan '04

Stanford, Calif.
Doctoral candidate, Stanford University Department of Biochemistry

Fraser Tan '04

My favorite moment was when my professor organized a giant cooking party for us, to help us learn the vocabulary for cooking. The entire Japanese class piled into the kitchen, and we all helped cook enormous amounts of curry—speaking only Japanese—it was tons of fun!

 


Lea Ekeberg '98

Washington, D.C.
Chinese language teacher

Lea Ekeberg '98

Before I went to college, I didn't know the first thing about China, but the classes I took at Swarthmore gave me an excellent foundation in the language, history, literature, politics, and religion of the region.