Language assistants talk about their experiences at Colby

Each year, Colby hires people from around the globe to be language assistants—native speakers who teach conversation classes, run language tables, and serve as a general resource for students. Though they are on campus in an academic role, language assistants are also very present in Colby life. Language assistants take classes, live in dorms, and join clubs, just as a Colby student would. Lotti Klemp, Margherita Carlotti, and Camille Herault are three of this year’s language assistants.

Lotti Klemp is this year’s German language assistant. She is from a seaside town in north Germany, and is using her time at Colby in part as a change of pace before entering medical school. “The German language assistant always comes from the boarding school that I graduated from,” Klemp said. “The position was offered, and as I didn’t want to continue studying in medical school right away and study for the next eight years of my life without doing anything in between, I decided to apply for this position.”  Klemp said that since she went to boarding school for six years, she hasn’t felt homesick yet. “I’m really enjoying my time here. It’s my first time in America, so I’m not sure if Colby is a good representation of the American standard, but so far it’s been very overwhelming and great.” On campus, Klemp is part of the volleyball and hip hop clubs (though she is also an avid sailor, tennis player, and horseback rider), and is taking two classes— one in English literature and one in contemporary dance. Klemp said that she can be found in the gym every day, as sports and exercise are important parts of her life.

For her year at Colby, Klemp said her goal is to not want to go home. She said she wants to be “really sad that I have to go back. That’s my aim, whatever that means. I’ve already met so many great people, and I’m looking forward to the next year.”

In the Italian department, Margherita Carlotti is from Bologna, a city just outside of Florence. Carlotti heard about the position from her professor in Bologna, who was friends with one of the Italian professors at Colby. “I’m getting used to campus life, which is very different from the Italian one, and to the weather, which is becoming a bit cold,” said Carlotti. Before teaching at Colby, she said she was nervous about crossing the ocean to work, and about what Colby would be like. But now, she said, “I’m fine.” Carlotti enjoys dancing and acting, and is involved in both the dance department and Powder and Wig. She said she will have a small role in Powder and Wig’s performance of Romeo and Juliet, which is scheduled to be on stage in December. She said she also enjoys reading and walking. “I walk in the woods in the morning, when it’s not raining.” In her time at Colby, Carlotti said her goals are to improve her English, see the differences between Italy and the U.S., help her students, learn everything she can from the classes she’s taking, visit other nearby places in the U.S., and, of course, to make friends.

Carlotti shares her office space with French language assistant Camille Herault. Herault is from the southwest of France, and studied in Lyon, a city near the Alps. She said she found out about Colby through her school, which has a partnership with Colby. “They send one person each year, and they needed someone this year so they offered the post to me.” Herault is currently in the middle of earning her Master’s degree in English. After her time at Colby is finished, she said she has one more year of school and one more dissertation to write (she has already written one) before obtaining her degree. On campus, Herault is also involved in Powder and Wig, and is taking two courses. Of her time at Colby, Herault said she is using this year as a learning experience. “I’m very shy, so I expect by the end of the year to be less shy… I’m here to enjoy the experience, and to see if teaching could be an option for me later on.”

One uniting factor for the language assistants is the World Vision Song Contest, which is a competition between each of the language departments. Each language assistant leads a group of students taking language classes and helps them learn the lyrics to a song (in their department’s language) and choreograph a dance. Then, the departments come together to compete and perform their song. The Russian department is the reigning World Vision Song Contest winner; this year, they will fight to defend their crown on November 10.

Though they are from many different countries and many different backgrounds, each language assistant is passionate about helping their students learn their chosen language and to make the most of their time at Colby. Through events like the World Vision Song Contest and their involvement in classes, clubs, and residential life, these language assistants are individuals who contribute significantly to the depth and diversity of the Colby community, and are a part of what makes Colby such a special place.

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