By Kevin Medansky
My name is Kevin Medansky, and I graduated from Haverford College this past May. After a stint in Iowa working on the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign this past summer, I moved to Paris, France, to pursue a Master’s at the Institute of Theater Studies of the Sorbonne Nouvelle and teach English at a local private high school called l’École alsacienne.
For my Master’s, since I’m only in class for around nine hours each week, I’m mostly concentrating on my thesis. The quirky part about this program is that since my degree will be in Theater, not French, I have the liberty to study plays from across the world, including Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Hanoch Levin’s Krum, on which most of my analysis is centered. Nevertheless, all of my coursework, as well as my thesis, are entirely in French, so I still benefit from the language immersion environment I have long been hoping for.
Otherwise, my work at l’École alsacienne has helped me test out teaching as a potential passion of mine. Each week, I teach twelve one-hour classes, spanning from seventh to twelfth grade. Since I have total autonomy in determining the curricula, I’ve developed three different syllabi for my classes.
In my middle school classes, we spend each class with games and exercises aimed at helping them improve their vocabulary and grammar skills. This is quite reminiscent of my experience as a Teaching Assistant in the Bryn Mawr Department of French and Francophone Studies, and I’m grateful that those skills have transferred so easily.
With a number of my high school classes, I am devoting this year to debating critical issues in climate change. This will allow me to channel what I’ve learned throughout my Environmental Studies minor, and I’m excited to help my students consider these issues through a new lens—and in a new language, too.
Otherwise, I’ve transformed the rest of my classes into theater workshops, in which students write and rehearse short plays. My goal for each class is to put together a final performance of 30 plays in 60 minutes, inspired by the Neo-Futurists’ production, The Infinite Wrench. I’m especially grateful for these classes, since they expand on everything I learned while pursuing my thesis performance back at Haverford, and they complement my theoretical coursework at the Sorbonne Nouvelle.
Currently, my plan is to remain in Paris at least until I finish my Master’s in 2021, but I don’t have any concrete plans for afterward. At this point, I’m just content to be back in the land of wine, cheese, and baguettes.