October 16, 2018

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, translated into English.

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

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 said.

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

The work was part of DuCharme’s assistantship scholarship, which was 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 said.

DuCharme said 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 added.

She is now a substitute teacher at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa.