Mimi MacKilligan ’21

President’s Fellow for the
Department of Language and Culture Studies

I am a senior at Trinity majoring in LACS (French & German) and minoring in Japanese. I was also nominated as the President’s Fellow for the Department of Language and Culture Studies. During my time with the LACS department, I have studied a variety of topics in other languages from the French philosophy of Sartre to 18th century German literature to Meiji era short stories.

During my time at Trinity, I came to learn that the LACS department is the heart of study abroad. I was fortunate to study in Paris where I took courses at Université de Paris IV’s SIAL and Université de Paris III (Sorbonne-Nouvelle), all in French. I have also studied in Tokyo through a Trinity summer course, through the Tokyo Technos International Week, and through a remote semester (due to the pandemic). However, not everyone wants to or is able to study abroad. In this case, the LACS department offers a variety of on-campus opportunities to engage with foreign language such as student clubs and the LACS lunch tables. As the President of the French Club, our organization is open to both French speakers and English speakers with an interest in Francophone culture.

So why did I pursue foreign language and join the LACS department? So many reasons! The outstanding one being my love for communicating. Foreign language expands the range of people I can literally speak to and comprehend, of course, but I also think it’s the foundation for understanding culture and global relationships. It carries meaning beyond a translation, and it helps us to understand subjects varying from imperialism to environmentalism. Even the act of practicing a foreign language is significant. It’s like a muscle. You have to develop it and understand how it works. In turn, foreign language opens your perspective and improves your critical thinking skills.

My decision to balance three languages was to challenge my language-learning skills and to study three very different cultures and histories that interact with many nations beyond French, German, and Japanese borders. With this educational background, I believe possible career paths can include global private organizations, academia, and governmental institutions. Following my graduation from Trinity College, I plan to pursue a graduate program in international affairs in Washington D.C. and to become a regional specialist.

My advice to anyone interested in Language and Culture Studies at Trinity is this: language is the principal method of human communication. We are living in a globalizing world where understanding other languages and cultures is crucial to making progress.