SUWC members are a diverse and fascinating group of women. One goal in the coming year is to learn more about some of the amazing people that make a difference in our club.
It is a pleasure to share these words from Betty Cohen who co-leads the French Literature section with Daniele Archambault.
” I studied French in high school and in college, both in New York City. In 1956, my musicologist husband Albert and I went to Paris on his Fulbright Grant. It was shocking to learn that my French was totally inadequate, as I was having great difficulty following the language spoken so rapidly. I realized then that I had been taught to read, write, and translate French but that we never did have conversation practice. Fortunately, several French families befriended us, and we shared many dinners together while being forced to converse in French. Those evenings left me with my head throbbing from concentrating and making supreme efforts to participate. I used French as one of the two foreign language requirements for my PhD (virus laboratories, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health of the University of Michigan). In 1975, I was able to join Albert for three months of his longer stay on another grant and did an intensive program (four hours of classes and numerous hours of homework) at the Alliance Française in Paris. I passed the exam for the certificate for spoken French but missed obtaining the certificate for written French by two points. Between 1956 and 1975 I had returned to France several times for shorter stays to join Albert who had various grants to do his research there on 17th century French music. In the mid 1980s, I was able to leave my Palo Alto Syntex Pharmaceutical’s office to work with the Director of the Paris Syntex branch for a month.
I joined the SUWC when we moved to Stanford from the East in 1973. However, I soon became engrossed at Stanford in a post doc program and then went on to work in the Stanford Research Park, first at ALZA Corp. (drug delivery systems) for five years and then at Syntex for 14 years. When I retired at the end of 1994, I continued to do consulting and writing for biotech and pharmaceutical companies for 10 years. At the start of 1995 I rejoined the SUWC because now I had the freedom to manage my own time. Joining the French Conversation Group was a delight enabling me to get back to my love of the French language. Awhile later I learned about the existence of a French Literature Group. After some time I suggested that it become a section of the SUWC where it thrives today. I’ve discovered that I have greater pleasure reading in French than in English; the challenge entices me, and I love the sound of the words.”
Please join Betty if you enjoy French literature. This section usually meets on the first Monday of the month at 1:30 PM. They read, review, and discuss French books in French. Each member chooses the book she would like to review. During the critique and discussion of the selected book, they eat, drink, and have a jolly good time together.