by Malcolm Cooke ’21
You might think that under the circumstances, all study abroad programs have been unequivocally ended, and yet there are still those out there, roughing it despite all opposition.
Nora Stewart ’21, an English Literature and Art History double major, has started working again this month at Galerie Eric Dupont, a small Paris art gallery run by the titular Eric Dupont. Nora briefly worked at the gallery last semester, before her study abroad program in Paris was abruptly cut short by COVID. But when she was offered a six month paid internship at the gallery to continue her former duties and bridge the gap during some staff changes, she wanted to take advantage of this twist in fate.
“I wasn’t sure I would ever get the chance to do it again during college. I kind of got really lucky and that sort of felt like a do-over after my first internship ended.” Nora said.
Her duties at Galerie Eric Dupont are varied, including working with artists, interacting with the much-reduced number of visitors to the gallery, as well as translating everything from emails to the writing of artists themselves. Over the summer she translated the catalog of Beninese artist Roméo Mivekannin, who is involved with the Gallery, and she says the process was enlightening.
“It’s like interacting with writing in an entirely new way, in that I both want to preserve the tone of the person writing it but also like I want to be intelligible to English speakers,” she said.
Nora found herself discussing the different meanings of words and phrases in both French and English with her manager Elizabeth, sparking an exploration of language that is relevant to her interests in English Literature as well. Reinterpreting language and meaning through translation is a topic she is thinking about expanding upon in her English capstone next semester, which will potentially be about comparisons between English and French colonial literature.
Her engagement with literature also extends beyond the purely academic and into the recreational. Her self-quarantine on arrival and new lockdown measures in France mean that she is still spending much of her time in her apartment. Owned by an American, she was surprised to find a bookshelf filled with a mixture of French and English literature, which was perfect to occupy herself with during her two-week self-quarantine after arriving.
“I was like, ‘I guess I won’t be bored because I can read in both French and English,’” she said, “I started rereading the Great Gatsby just for the hell of it.”
And even though she will be going back into lockdown soon, she still did manage to get out and about in Paris, more recently by taking walks to familiarize herself with the neighborhood or visiting local museums that were still open. On one of these walks, she was able to find her way to the English language bookstore Shakespeare and Company, which has operated for 70 years in Paris, to pick up some texts for her Shakespeare and Justice class with Professor Geng.
In fact, despite being on an entirely different continent, Nora is still taking classes at Macalester. Although it’s not a full course load, and she will graduate a semester later, she is still able to participate in the Macalester community via classes and online events (some of which take place in the English department!)
Nora’s fall semester abroad is certainly unexpected, but was ultimately a lucky break in a year of repeated disappointment.
“It was kind of like, ‘I would love to be able to use this opportunity if all the pieces fell into place,’” she said, “and I got really lucky and that they did.”
The Words would like to deeply thank Nora Stewart and Galerie Eric Dupont