‘An Exercise in Experience’
Ohio Wesleyan Senior Explores Language Barriers During Montreal Visit
Name: Lily Callander ’22
Hometown: Blacklick, Ohio
Majors: English (Literature) and English (Creative Writing)
OWU Connection Experience: Completing “An Exercise in Experience: Writing Personal Narrative in a French-Speaking Area,” supported by an OWU Connection grant
Lily Callander ’22 traveled to Montreal, Québec, Canada, this fall to write personal narratives that explore navigating language differences in foreign countries. She secured funding to support her trip through Ohio Wesleyan’s Small Grant Program, part of The OWU Connection.
“OWU has helped me realize my passion for international education,” Callander said. “International experiences like this matter because they allow for connections between the classroom and the broader world. They create unexpected connections, and these connections inspire future work.”
Callander traveled with Adrienne Wentling ’22, who conducted research on French-speaking identities.
Why I Chose This Experience
“I wanted to study away, something that I chose Ohio Wesleyan specifically to pursue. However, I did not want to just travel to Montreal on a whim and have an international experience. I had a very specific end goal: to lean into the difficulties of language barriers and write about it.
“During the fall semester of my second year at OWU, I traveled to visit my cousin, who was studying away in Florence, Italy, and my friend Colette Cosgrove ’21, who was studying in London, England. On my way to Florence, I experienced a lot of language-related issues. In short, I ended up shouting in an Italian train station, begging for someone who spoke English to help me with understanding my train ticket.
“I wanted to use this experience to explore the ways in which my privilege as an English-speaking American operates both at home and abroad. I wanted to put myself in a potential situation that could mimic the one in that Italian train station, and I most certainly found myself in these sorts of situations.”
What I Learned
“I saw the ways in which personal narrative interacts with history and the present. I saw how personal narratives and language intersect, particularly in regards to how specific voices are silenced. I felt my passion return for learning about language and the ways in which it functions, and that is something I will be forever thankful for.”
“I’d like to credit Dr. Nancy Comorau (associate professor of English) for the unexpected ways that my coursework with her was reflected throughout this experience. I’d also like to thank her for teaching me how to not only navigate an unfamiliar city, but for demonstrating the power of a detailed and well-thought-out itinerary and for introducing me to the ways in which concepts can transcend boundaries.
“My faculty mentor was professor Amy Butcher (director of Creative Writing). She has showcased the power of personal narrative. My coursework with her has allowed me to really look inward and consider what motivates me as a writer, and, most importantly, what motivates me to learn.
“Professor Butcher really encouraged me to think critically and articulate exactly what I wanted to do with this grant, and I know that her encouragement and help with developing the grant will serve me well in the future.
“I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact that both Lisa Ho and Darrell Albon (of The OWU Connection program) have had on my OWU experience and postgraduate plans. Without these two, I would not be where I am today.”
Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan
“I never intended to study at Ohio Wesleyan. My aunt and her family live in Delaware, so it was always a running joke that the three grandchildren would all attend Ohio Wesleyan. The three of us would moan and groan and vowed not to attend the University.
“However, my mom encouraged me to apply to more schools in Ohio. I was, and still am, invested in pursuing an international education experience, and Ohio Wesleyan fit the bill perfectly. I applied for the Palmer Global Scholars Program, and was accepted. This program, along with the broader OWU Connection, is why I came to OWU.”
My Plans After Graduation
“I plan to pursue work in the field of international education. I want to help other students have the opportunity to study away.
“Visiting my friends while they were abroad and seeing the powerful responses that they had from their experience, as well as working as a Merrick Mentor (helping students with OWU Connection questions) and an intern for the Palmer Global Scholars Program has equipped me with the knowledge to be successful in my applications and express my passion for this particular field.”