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Letters to the editor, November 2017

Letters to the editor, November 2017

[photo of the Queen's Bands in Calgary]
Photo by Carolyn Woodall

A welcome sight in Calgary

This past summer my husband and I were in Alberta and, along with my daughter, Carolyn Sparling Woodall, MDiv'90, and son-in-law Blaine Woodall, Ed'90, we spent three days at the Calgary Stampede, including the opening parade on Friday, July 7. Imagine our surprise and excitement when, halfway through the parade, we saw the Queen's Bands come marching down the street. We were, of course, thrilled … especially since, as far as we could ascertain, Queen’s was the only Canadian university represented in the parade. We made our best effort to come out with an Oil Thigh while they were stopped in front of us and were rewarded with a glance and a smile from one of the band members. It made our days and our experiences at the stampede very special!

Cheers from Miriam Stroud, Artsci’82, MDiv’84, and Professor Emeritus Tom Stroud (Mathematics and Statistics)

An appreciation for the sciences

Just wanted to express appreciation for the recent articles on what’s happening at Queen’s in the sciences – not just the most recent issue but also last issue’s articles on computing, and earlier on
the Nobel Prize for Art McDonald, medical research, engineering, etc. I didn’t appreciate the hard sciences enough while I was at Queen’s but over the succeeding decades have grown to
appreciate that they are a necessary condition for improvements in living standards over the long term, as well as the new frontier of human exploration. It seems like the focus on the issue of the moment has led the culture-at-large (at least, down here in the U.S.) to forget this, so it’s nice to see them get more recognition in the Review.

Martin Czigler, Artsci’80

The exchange experience

In our last issue, we put out a call for reminiscences of student exchange. Here are a few of the responses we received. Read more exchange stories.

My third year of a combined honours English and French BA degree at Queen’s was a credit year abroad, in France. It transformed my life. My improved abilities in French and deepened appreciation of Francophone culture opened many doors for me upon my return to Canada. They were a distinct asset in my career in the Public Service of Canada and in my social and personal life. My wife is Francophone, and our relationship is in French.

I am eternally grateful to Queen’s for its enlightened attitude in suggesting I spend my third year abroad and for giving me a full credit. While I certainly did the prescribed coursework in France, I also followed the advice of my French professor at Queen’s to plunge as much as possible into French life and culture. It turned out that the “default position” of foreign students such as myself was to hang out with other foreign students (usually in English). My making friends with French students, in French, did not happen overnight but took some good luck and perseverance on my part. It turned out to be a key turning point.

This international experience exposed me to so much that was new and stimulating and without doubt “broadened my horizons.” It enabled me to travel inexpensively to fascinating destinations (for example, by tramp steamer to Istanbul for Christmas, and hitchhiking through Spain and Morocco). This fired my lifelong love of travel. And adjusting to a different culture stood me in good stead when, much later in my life, I came to live in three different countries, on three continents.

So, whenever I encounter young people who have the opportunity to study abroad, I encourage them to do so and mention my own very positive experience, which was all thanks to Queen’s.

David Paget, Arts’69, Law’72

I went to Tours, France, for my third year at Queen’s (1991–92) while I was in the Translation program. I still keep in touch with a couple of friends in France and saw them this summer when I went back to celebrate our 25th anniversary. That year was one of the best experiences of my life. It increased my confidence in my language skills and absolutely influenced my career path. I was originally intending to become a translator; however, I ended up becoming a French teacher and taught every grade from 4 to 13 (when it still existed!) so that I could share my love of French language and culture with as many people as possible. I also took a leave of absence from my teaching job and continued with my French studies, completing a master’s degree in French literature. While I am no longer in a classroom (I have more of a consultant-type role in special education in an alternative school) my love of all things French has not waned. I still consider that year abroad to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Nancy (Drover) Driscoll, Artsci’93

I studied at Lund University in Lund, Sweden, and took mainly chemistry courses, although I did manage to take a for-credit Swedish course and play in an academic orchestra while there. My exchange really shaped my studies and future career prospects, as it broadened my horizons and helped me gain an international perspective on my degree. Now I have something drawing
me back to Scandinavia, a place I had never been to before.

While I have no regrets from my time in Sweden, I would highly recommend anyone going on exchange to take advantage of every travel opportunity that presents itself. Especially when you go somewhere in Europe.

Before I applied for exchange I worried that doing my full third year in Sweden would set me back a year. This was not the case, and I graduated on time with both a chemistry major and a music minor! Since graduating, I have started a master’s in chemistry here at Queen’s and am longing for the day when I can go back to Sweden!

Alastair Kierulf, Artsci’17

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 4-2017]