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Engineering Language Experiences at IUPUI
The first time Lora Perry (BS’09) went to Strasbourg, France, it was to sing. The second time, it was to learn.
Lora’s first trip, at 13, was a one-day excursion during a multi-week tour of Europe with a children's choir. “Actually, I had forgotten Strasbourg. I was barely there for a day,” admits Lora, a graduate of the biomedical engineering program in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.
She returned to Strasbourg years later as an engineering major with a French minor, thanks to the Beaudry Summer Scholarship for French and Francophone Studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts. This time, she would come away with memories and language skills that serve her well today.
“The really appealing aspect of the program in Strasbourg was that it was for international students,” notes Lora. “Some of my classmates were from China. I really couldn’t revert to English.” Wanting to give students that sort of immersion is what inspired James and Agnes Beaudry to create the scholarship.
Now retired, James served as a medieval French literature professor at IUPUI, and his 30-year career included chairing the department. James believed so much in immersion that he and Agnes, who has since passed away, practiced it: The couple took students to France. “My wife and I loved seeing the way French people live,” James says. “We wanted to pass that joie de vivre to the next generation of French language educators.”
Lora, however, is not a teacher. She works for Engineering World Health, a nonprofit aimed at improving the technological infrastructure of clinics and hospitals in developing countries. Partnering with Duke University, EWH operates training programs that teach technicians in places like Rwanda to repair medical equipment.
“A lot of medical equipment is donated in the developing world,” Lora explains. “The hospitals there don’t have technicians on staff. If, for example, the X-ray machine doesn’t work, it may be the only one that serves an entire region.” That’s where her French comes in. She travels to Rwanda to ensure the program is working well. French affords her and the technicians a shared language.
Of course, French in Rwanda is different from French in Europe. But the experience of reaching out to others from a different culture is universal. And so is the need for a world traveler to be ready for the unexpected.
For example, Lora, her classmates, and their professor took an idyllic bike ride past flowered fields in Strasbourg. They had a wonderful day, filled with small towns and quaint festivals—and an accidental shortcut onto a major highway.
Despite some harrowing moments, everything turned out okay. In fact, better than okay: The group took refuge on a roundabout where the artist who crafted the Statue of Liberty was commemorated by a smaller version of his landmark work.
“It was really neat—one of those small-world moments,” Lora recalls.
IU School of Liberal Arts Dean William Blomquist says such gifts give the world to IUPUI students. “Without the generous support of someone like James Beaudry, many of our students could not take advantage of overseas study,” he says. “The benefits to their learning are immediate and lifelong. That helps our school fulfill its mission of educating students for the world they will lead in the future.”
For more information on how you can support travel abroad programs at the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, contact Gail Plater at 317-278-1055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.