Alex Buck - Alumni Speak

 Alex Johnson-Buck

My experience in a French-speaking area during or after my studies at NMU is limited to a 2004 course, FR 438 Cultural and Artistic Heritage of Europe with its trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and France. However, my wife, Lauren (who also participated in the FR438 course) and I hope to visit France (and possibly Belgium) again, perhaps after graduate school.

I double majored in French and chemistry at NMU.  Although I am now pursuing a Ph.D. degree in the latter at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I believe my studies of French at NMU have greatly enriched my academic and personal pursuits, and will continue to do so.  From a practical perspective, the in-depth study of a foreign language honed my ability to critically analyze my statements for accuracy, clarity, and nuance, skills which are essential yet often overlooked in natural sciences.  My knowledge of French in particular enabled me to communicate and connect with francophone colleagues in my current department until they became confident in their English skills.  

More broadly, my upper-level courses in French literature, film and culture, as well as a directed study of the social underpinnings of riots then occurring across France, forced me to reach beyond stereotypes (such as myths that the French are rude and hate Americans) and appreciate the complexity of foreign cultures, an immensely important ability in our ever-shrinking world.

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