M.A. in French Studies
I am a native Xhosa who grew up speaking Afrikaans in the coastal city of Cape Town, South Africa While growing up Afrikaans, a Dutch/Flemish dialect used as the medium of instruction in South African schools, I later learned isiXhosa and English which ensured ownership of language capital.
In 1999, I obtained a National Diploma in Travel and Tourism from Cape College, which increased interest in French culture. Learning French became more necessary while I was employed as a Front Desk Receptionist for Protea Hotels and The Marine Hermanus Hotel in Cape Town from 1999-2004, a five-star French hotel chain Relais et Chateaux with a primarily French and British clientele. After many questions of “Parlez vous français?” and me responding no, I was hired by Royal Caribbean Cruises in 2004, as a Guest Relations Officer. In 2008, I encountered many Francophone African and Afro-French New Yorkers, during which my desire to learn French became a reality. In 2010, my experience in the hospitality industry enabled me to be self–employed as an Air-BNB hostess. I obtained a BA in Political Science and French with distinction from Baruch College at CUNY in 2018, which also allowed me to become a health advocate. Advocating on behalf of low-income immigrant New Yorkers, to gain access to healthcare coverage, also taught me how to advocate for bilingual education.
IsiXhosa seemed almost unknown in the Americas as a real language. This is evident in its portrayal as the fictional language of Wakanda in the Black Panther movie. In my final year at Baruch College, my translation professor Esther Ellen motived me to write a thesis titled “Ukutshona Kuka Mendi” (The sinking of the Mendi), which included a translation of a Xhosa poem into English. The poem was written by Xhosa author, poet, journalist, and translator Samuel E. Mqhayi, who primarily wrote for a Xhosa audience in 1897, reporting about the condition of young Xhosa men drafted during WWII to assist in France’s war efforts. Mqhayi also reported on the sinking of a South African warship named The Mendi, which had sunken with the loved ones of many Xhosa people from the port of Cape Town en-route to the French port of Le Havre. Professor Esther Ellen, a recipient of the “Chevalier d’ordre des arts et des lettres” from the French government, encouraged me to contribute my translation to the CUNY Academic Works Database, where it has been consulted sixty-four times by multiple academic institutions in many parts of the world including France. I took several French classes, including an advance class in French literature, exploring the literary works of Emile Zola “L’assommoir” and Marcel Proust “A La Recherche du Temps Perdu.” The result was a dissertation for my French literature class on the topic “La déchéance du personnage féminin à travers le XIXe siècle.” My accomplishments in the French language was made possible by Dr. Max Kramer, my French professor at Baruch College, author and former Foreign Resident Student of École Normal Supérieure in France.
After completion of a Master’s Degree in French Studies at NYU, I aspire to translate one of Samuel Mqhayi’s literary works into French; advocate for ethnic languages in South Africa; possibly obtain a Ph.D. in French Studies and History/Anthropology and start my own non-profit in educational cultural exchange travel covering Africa, France, and America. Currently, I apply my advocacy skills to advocating for improved French language programming as PTO President at a French-American bilingual elementary public school and is co-founding a French bi-lingual education start-up.