When we make connections with our students, we broaden their world, and they broaden ours. And we learn to embrace the vastness of human experiences.
For Professor Angèle Kingué, French and Francophone studies, nothing is more important than communicating powerfully and effectively with others through her teaching, writing and mentoring. "The insight and empathetic understanding we gain in face-to-face interaction can enhance and improve our learning, bridge cultural differences and give us the courage to press on through hard times — or even change direction," she says.
Kingué says her teaching, scholarship and creative work intersect in a seamless whole. For her, writing has always been and remains the defining moment both professionally and personally. Writing anchors her in ways that help her connect the personal — even stories of her childhood — with the professional.
As a doctoral student studying foreign language pedagogy and second language acquisition, Kingué was invited to speak at a conference about how to introduce Francophone African language and culture into the French curriculum. Upon reflection, she decided that instead of pursuing a conventional approach to her presentation, she would instead relate stories of her childhood as a girl growing up in Cameroon. As a graduate student living in a new culture and environment, these were the stories she wrote as a means of comfort, which shared cherished recollections and memorialized her home country.
While the stories she recounted in her presentation were beautifully crafted, Kingué had never considered publishing these personal reflections. To her amazement, many in her audience approached and asked where they could buy her book. One woman in particular said that she was moved to tears by a story because it rekindled memories of her own childhood, a world away, in Idaho. It was that moment of connection and encouragement, Kingué says, that launched her career as an author. Kingué has since published two novels and two collections of stories in French, as well as a children's book that was published in French, English and four Cameroonian languages. Her last novel, Venus of Khala-Kanti, originally published in French in Bordeaux, France, was published in English by Bucknell University Press and Rowman & Littlefield as part of the Griot Project Book Series.
Since the publication of Venus, Kingué's scholarship has expanded to include work on translation in both language and dramatic performances. Indeed, Venus was translated not only into English, but also into music and dance performances, thus becoming a choreo novel that was performed at Penn State University, here at Bucknell, at the Northeast Conference in New York City and finally at the Center for African Research in Dakar, Sénégal.
The choreo novel represents a culmination of Kingué's scholarship and her art in bringing to life written materials for her students to experience. In her three decades as a professor of Francophone studies at Bucknell, Kingué has provided transformative experiences to students in her classes by introducing them to a world outside of their own. For example, she provides her students with a realistic vision of Africa that goes beyond the one-dimensional view that is almost always negative. She has been able to do this by introducing a wide array of textual materials into her courses and by exposing students to the voices and experiences of a variety of African authors and experts in varied fields of study including linguistics, African history, engineering and public health.
Beyond teaching her own students, Kingué has taken her work on the teaching of Francophone Africa to other teachers and scholars as an invited speaker at a wide range of universities, as well as at special extended presentations at conferences and workshops.
For 17 years, Kingué served as director of the Bucknell en France study abroad program. Bucknell en France reflects the intensive immersion that students experience in the language and culture of Tours, France. Students are immersed in French culture as they live with French families and attend classes at the Université de Tours, where they are exposed to the work of scholars from many disciplines so that they truly experience — and are challenged by — worlds beyond their own.
"Bucknell's approach of immersing a small group of 10 to 15 students in a foreign city, connecting them with local residents and guiding them through cultural activities that reinforce what they're learning in class creates an immediate integration and upward integration," Kingué says. Interpersonal learning is also the guiding principle behind Bucknell en France and all of the University's Bucknell In programs, which have been indelibly impacted by Kingué's leadership during her tenure as director.
Kingué's scholarly journey as an educator of French and Francophone Africa has earned her accolades from home and abroad. Kingué became the first non-French-native professor to receive the coveted Medal of Honor from the Université de Tours for her vision in advancing the mission of global education and partnership through the Bucknell en France program. In 2019, she was awarded an honorary membership by the American Association of French teachers, in recognition for her contributions to advancing scholarship in French and Francophone Studies.
Kingué has recently joined the Provost's Office as a special adviser to the provost for faculty development. In this role, she is responsible for directing strategic initiatives to support faculty, with a particular but not exclusive emphasis on supporting faculty and staff of color. She also helps to provide guidance to senior staff and to faculty in both pre- and post-tenure statuses, applying her decades of personal and professional teaching and scholarship to the interpersonal growth and success of every member of Bucknell's community.