It’s been quite the year for Professor Angèle Kingué, French & Francophone studies. She received two major honors, one from François Rabelais University in Tours, site of the Bucknell en France program, which Kingué has directed for 15 years. She also was
co-winner of the Burma-Bucknell Bowl, presented yearly for outstanding contributions
to intercultural and international understanding within the University community. In a
collaboration with faculty from Penn State, Kingué excerpted parts of her novel Venus of
Khala-Kanti for a dance and musical performance in State College and at Bucknell. She
took the production to Dakar, Senegal, earlier this month. And a presentation she made,
“Acquiring Intercultural Competencies for Africa,” won the Best of NECTFL 2016 award
from The Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. She is now taking
a sabbatical year to complete a novel and translate from French to English her first novel.
In 2017–18 she’ll return to directing the Bucknell en France program.
Q:Why is it important for students to venture into the world,
even though the world is a scary place
A:The only way I think we will survive on this planet is to get to know
one another. At the heart of what makes
us human is that connection that can be
made through exchange, conversation.
If students go to a country and live with a
family, and eat and converse and navigate
the streets and understand the culture
and see the buildings and talk to the
artisans and talk to fellow students,
that’s how they get to know the world.
But most importantly, that’s how they
get to know themselves. Often when you
go abroad, the first person you get to
know better is you. You learn something
about you as you’re facing difference.
Q:You’re out of your comfort zone?
A:Right. It’s like, who am I? They learn a thing or two about other
cultures. They understand that context
better. They gain another perspective.
They’re part of that culture for a very
short while, but it expands them. We
gain empathy when we get to know
what otherness is. That’s why it matters
at all levels, for us as adults as much as
for the young students, to move toward
Q:So what compelled you, as a young person from Cameroon,
to move out into the world?
A:Reading stories. I remember being so curious about fall leaves. You
know why? Because it’s always green
where I come from. What got me curious
were stories about people, imagining
what that world was like. I grew up in a
world where education mattered, so it
was one door that opens another one,
then opens another one. When it came
time to study more, going abroad was a
way to go beyond, to go to the next level.
There’s nothing like immersion. You can’t
run away. You find a way.
Q:You are admired around campus for your style. Where did you get
your flair for fashion?
A:African women are very stylish. I don’t think about it as fashion,
because I’m not following any trends.
I have a body that I have to dress, and
it’s not a body that I see in magazines,
so I have to put things on me that work
for me. It just simply reminds me that
I’m OK in my world and in the body that
I’ve got, and I can adorn that body for
my own pleasure. I probably wear
things that are brighter, more colorful.
Q:Like red shoes.
A:Yeah, red shoes. My graduation shoes are blue and orange! I just
walked in the store, and there they were.
They just beckoned and said, “Come
get me, come get me.” If you’re going
to be Bucknell, you’ll be Bucknell all
By Sherri Kimmel