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French Student Translating WWI Soldier Journal Entries
Amanda DuCharme '17

February 11, 2016

More than 100 years ago and an ocean away, a French soldier fighting in World War I sent a letter describing his experiences on the front.

The letter ended up in a collection of letters and journal entries that Amanda DuCharme '17 and Lynn Palermo, associate professor of French, are translating into English. 

"He was involved in the Battle of Longway, where many of his comrades were killed, and he was severely injured," DuCharme explains.  

Taken to a field hospital that was destroyed in a bombing, the soldier was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war.  

"His letter describes in painstaking detail the pain he felt, and the shock of what was going on all around him," DuCharme says.  

"We worked through several drafts together, read about and discussed historical context in general, and she did a lot of detective work-type research," says Palermo. "It was quite an intellectual adventure! And she ended up with a beautifully rendered translation."

The work is part of DuCharme's assistantship scholarship, which was actually what brought her to Susquehanna.  

"I was still deciding what college I wanted to go to, and this really helped me to make my decision," she says.  

DuCharme says her favorite thing about translating the soldier's letter was being able to research historical events such as the Red Cross, World War I military weapons, field hospital conditions, treatment of German prisons of war and the struggles French families faced during World War I.  

"I believe that translating has done a lot to improve my French vocabulary," she adds.   

DuCharme is currently studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal, where she's living with a host family and taking classes taught in entirely French.    

This fall, she and her professor, along with students from the French Translation class, plan to translate all the letters and journal entries by the centennial year of the end the war.     

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