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Morning Sun
  • Patrick's People - French Connection

  • Gorilla Crossing in the Overman Student Center, Pittsburg State University, can get very crowded during lunch time. One day a few years ago, Zachary Dent couldn’t find a place to sit, and because of that he’s going to France.

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  • Gorilla Crossing in the Overman Student Center, Pittsburg State University, can get very crowded during lunch time. One day a few years ago, Zachary Dent couldn’t find a place to sit, and because of that he’s going to France.
    A PSU senior with a dual major in English and French, Dent will spend from October until April 2013 near Reims in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. He will be working as a teaching assistant, helping high school level French students to learn English.
    The program is sponsored by the French Ministry of Education, which will provide him with a monthly stipend to cover his living expenses.
    “I had to apply for this in January, and it was a pretty long process,” Dent said.
    A friend, recent PSU graduate Molly Cain, has been selected for the same program at the same time.
    “She will be working with elementary students in the south of France in the Grenoble region,” Dent said.
    He’s still a little amazed that the course of his life was changed by something so simple as where he sat for lunch one day.
    “I got into studying French by accident,” Dent said. “I was a freshman and working in the Financial Aid office. I was looking for a place to sit for lunch in Gorilla Crossing and there was just no place available. That’s when I saw a friend and asked if could sit there.”
    What he didn’t know was that it was the French table, where students have lunch and practice their conversational skills in French with their teacher.
    “A woman started talking to me in French,” Dent said. “It was Madame Krepps and she said I should learn French. I thought, all right, I will. I had been interested in learning it before. I wanted to take it in high school, but wasn’t able to.”
    He learned and became interested in actually going to France.
    “Madame Krepps is a very good teacher,” Dent said.
    That’s also the opinion of Megan Corrigan, assistant director, Study Abroad Coordinator, PSU International Programs and Services.
    “Dr. Krepps is amazing at getting students to fall in love with France through her class,” Corrigan said. “She’s passionate about France, and students end up just as passionate and enthusiastic as she is.”
    Dent worked as a consultant in the PSU Writing Center for several years, and she believes this probably impressed the French Ministry of Education.
    “Working in the center has given him rich experience helping both native and non-native English speakers improve their writing skills,” Corrigan said. “I’m positive this solid experience made his application to the program more competitive.”
    Dent, a 2008 Girard High School graduate and son of Mary Jane Dent, is very much looking forward to the experience.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I’m hoping I’ll be able to take all the skills I’ve learned so far and help students learn,” he said. “I’ll be in France to learn, too. I’ll be able to improve my French and get professional teaching experience.”
    He’s scheduled to graduate from PSU in spring 2013, and then hopes to eventually return to France and teach English at the high school level.
    Dent firmly believes that anyone can benefit from learning another language, whether it’s French or something else.
    “If you only know one language, you limit yourself,” he said. “In learning a new language you really refresh yourself. You learn new ideas and new ways to see  things.”
     

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