Even before going abroad, I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere in the community throughout the semester. I’ve always been very involved in many activities outside of school, and I knew that I would be happiest if I was able to be involved while abroad as well.
The American Corner was recommended to me by my program director in Grenoble, France. This organization acts as a resource for people wanting to learn more about the United States. People can learn information such as the visa requirements for traveling to or living in the United States, as well as gain valuable insight into how American culture and society works. One of the primary goals of the American Corner is to help foster relationships between France and the United States.
The American Corner in Grenoble was the first American Corner in Western Europe. Grenoble is a perfect city for a resource such as this because it has such a large American community. It is a sister city with several cities in the United States, and is home to multiple large American companies.
Each Thursday I volunteered my time during a four-hour shift. I worked with other students from the United States to help people find resources where they could learn more about studying, living, working, and traveling in the United States. Volunteers are a vital resource for the American Corner because we could give first hand information to curious people about our native country that they couldn’t get from a French employee. We also were a great help to the employees by helping to plan events, such as an end-of-semester ‘American’ Christmas party, and displays featuring different states.
Volunteering my time didn’t take much effort and it really helped me to feel better connected to the Grenoble community. I was able to meet many people, and even form friendships with our supervisors. I had a chance to practice my French, while telling people about a country I love.
After graduation, I hope to go into the nonprofit sector, because I have always felt the need to somehow make a difference. Even though it was something small I did just once a week, spending time helping others while overseas helped me to remember why I chose the major I did!
For more information, about the American Corner in Grenoble, feel free to check out their facebook page!
By: Aimee Goffinet
Aimee is a French & International Studies Major and Education Abroad Peer Ambassador at the University of Kentucky. Aimee has participated in three education abroad programs: a winter, UK Sponsored program in India, a summer program in Paris, France with KIIS, and a semester in Grenoble, France with partner CEA.
For more information about the programs that Aimee completed, follow the links to the program pages above.