A Hallmark Program
One of the hallmarks of Spelman’s French program is a four-week summer study in Martinique, an overseas region of France that is in the Caribbean. The program, which is the only one of its kind offered in the United States, accepts applications from students at other universities.
“I had a student who went to Martinique with me quite a few years back,” says Edwards. “I saw her in Paris two years ago, so we chatted. She was working for a nonprofit organization helping African countries with the education of young girls. It was something that developed after college.”
Students who participate in the program come back very different and more comfortable with themselves, she says.
“They’ve had to manage by themselves in a foreign country so they had to come out of their shell. And when they go there, they travel. It really opens their minds to various ways of thinking, and they realize when they go to this country or that country and talk with other students, there are different opinions. It’s not just one or just theirs.”
Edwards recalls a former student who wanted to be in civil service and had received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to do independent study outside the United States.
“I tried to convince her to study during her junior year in France. She said ‘Oh, no, I can’t leave my mother.’”
Eventually, the student accepted the fellowship, though she was a bit fearful when she left for her trip.
“This student went to Egypt. She went to South Africa and France. Now she is very comfortable. She came to see me later, and I said remember you didn’t even want to go.”