Hadley Galbraith is a recipient of the 2021 Global Student Award, which recognizes one undergraduate and one graduate student who are leaders deeply engaged in international education on campus or abroad. Hadley is a PhD student (French and francophone world studies) from Topeka, Kansas. Learn more about Hadley’s engagement with international education below.
What experiences, organizations, or programs have you participated in that furthered your international education?
I am a PhD candidate in the French and Francophone World Studies program, which has been an excellent avenue for my international education. The coursework in the program includes classes on history and literature of France, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the African diaspora, as well as the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. One thing I appreciate very much about my department is that professors frequently invite writers from the International Writers Workshop and others to visit or do video conferences with our classes. This is how I met the Guadeloupean choreographer whose philosophy is at the center of my dissertation's theoretical framework. My research focuses on literature, film, and performance by artists from the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and Sub-Saharan Africa. I focus on the memory of slavery and the impacts of colonization on relationships to the body, history and heritage amongst communities of slavery's descendants. As a graduate student, I have had the opportunity to teach undergraduates about the French language, the diverse francophone world, and francophone literature. Next semester, I will teach a class on the theme of my dissertation, using French texts that have been translated. The class will be in English, and thus accessible to a wide range of undergraduate students. I also took advantage of an exchange my department has with the Université de Poitiers and spent the 2015-16 academic year teaching English in their Language and Literature department in Poitiers, France. While there, I joined several organizations in order to increase opportunities to build friendships. Not only did the exchange allow me to immerse myself in French language and culture, I also spent a good deal of time with visiting lecturers from all over the world. (This was my third extended stay in France; I also studied abroad there as an undergraduate, and participated in the TAPIF program, teaching English at a high school.) I have been an active member of the World Languages Graduate Organization (WLGO), an association for graduate students in the Division of World Languages here at Iowa, since 2016. WLGO's mission is to foster opportunities for students across the Division to connect and share their work. In addition to regular socials and workshops, we put on a cultural event each Fall, where World Languages graduate students--many of whom are international students--contribute posters about elements of our different cultures which we then display and celebrate together. In the Spring, we hold an interdisciplinary academic conference featuring graduate student work. Presentations are consistently international in scope; in addition, last year we held a virtual conference, and were able to host several presenters from other countries. I have served as president and conference co-chair twice, and have served in many other roles as well. For one year, I served as departmental senator for the Department of French and Italian, and served on the International Committee of Graduate Student Senate. We held socials for international graduate students, and met with administrators in International Student and Scholar Services to inquire into international student fees, amongst other activities. This opportunity really opened my eyes to the particular concerns of international students on our campus. For my degree, I am currently studying a third language--Spanish--and have taken two courses in the Spanish department here at Iowa. This is contributing to an ever-broadening range of literature I can read, adding further layers to my understanding of romance languages, and opening up possibilities for studying colonization and post coloniality in Spanish-speaking contexts in addition to francophone ones. I enrolled in a translation workshop in the Literary Translation program in Spring of 2017. I translated works from French to English, and workshopped texts that other students had translated from Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, Hindi, and Ancient Greek. The way I thought about language, translated writing, and cross-cultural communication was transformed by the workshop. It made me more aware of how essential translation is to many writers who want to access the U.S. market, and I came to see how translating literature forms bonds across cultures that could otherwise not be formed. As a graduate student in the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, I also am simply a part of a very international community. I share the floor where my office is located with professors from Italy, Germany, France, Martinique, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Tanzania, and South Africa (and that is just 1 floor out of 5!). Interacting every day with people from all these different places means that I am constantly and happily aware of the world outside my own and how it touches my life.
What is the most valuable thing that you have learned through your international education experiences?
The most valuable thing I have learned is twofold. I have learned, firstly, that there are people in the world whose experiences and worldview are vastly different from mine, and secondly, that despite this, there are more things connecting us than there are separating us, across cultures. It is difficult, I think, to grasp that life can be seen in many different ways when we spend most of our time, as is common, with friends and family who share our neighborhoods, schools, and media. Interacting with other cultures--through film, books, and music, by traveling, or by getting to know people from other places--can be eye-opening because it asks us to reconsider factors in worldview that we often take for granted. Significant differences in social conventions, economics, spiritual traditions, and of course language can bring about different priorities, values, and ways of looking at problems for people whose background is not our own. I feel grateful for the opportunities I have had to observe these kinds of differences, because it has recast my way of thinking, moving myself out of the middle of the universe I have built in my imagination, and placing me in orbit with others. This brings me to the second part of my lesson, which is about connecting across cultures. I am a big proponent of looking for ways to enter into cross-cultural "dialogue" creatively. One of my favorite things about teaching French language courses is guiding students to the discovery that they can engage with francophone cultures even at the early stages of learning French. This is because there are so many other ways that we interact with one another, in addition to verbal language--images, gestures, tone, and color are just a few we use to talk about paintings, songs, and performances by French artists. We could expand this small classroom example in many different directions to enumerate the ways in which we can build bridges towards other cultures. My way of thinking about this is influenced by Edouard Glissant, the Martinican philosopher and author. Glissant envisions a poetics of relation in which we approach one another without feeling the threat of losing ourselves. We should not think of our differences as obstacles, but rather elements that enrich our interactions and make us distinct. We can take lessons from each of these interactions, while being mindful not to take anything away from one another.
If you had one message to pass on your fellow classmates about international education, what would it be?
Learning another language opens doors to learning and understanding spanning outward in all directions, and allows you to look inward from a new perspective.
What are your future academic or career goals?
My goal is to become a professor of Francophone Studies, to continue my research and continue engaging with students about the Francophone world.