Modern Language Events:  In the News

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In the News 2013

In the News 2014

In the News 2015





Dr. Agnes Ragone, professor of Spanish and French, has received a Fulbright grant from the State Department. She will be in Benin for the academic year 2018-2019. She will research the influences of one of the languages of the country, fon-gbe, on Haitian Creole as well as on the French spoken in Benin. French is the official language but some fifty native languages are also spoken in Benin. Sadly, many of the slaves who were uprooted from their lands came from the area of Benin, known previously as Dahomey.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program. Administered by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it is designed to increase mutual understanding between American citizens and those of other countries.

Dr. Ragone will return to teaching at Shippensburg in the fall of 2019.

FALL 2017

High School Contest

On the 18th of November, the Modern Languages Department hosted its 7th annual High School Contest, chaired by Dr. Ragone. The participants competed in German, French, Chinese and Spanish. Drs. Lesman, Mitaut, Pineda-Volk, Ricardo and Wildermuth as well as Professor Lu led the contestants in the game of Jeopardy, judged the poetry presentations and evaluated the Karaoke performances. Drs. Mitaut, Lesman and Wildermuth evaluated some of the contestants for their languages skills through an Oral Proficiency Interview or OPI. Thanks to the Office of Admissions, the participants were treated for lunch at the Reisner Cafeteria. Student Ambassadors Ian Fabricatore, Jody Burdge, Marleigh Cheney, Elyse Keegan, Atira Henderson and McKenzie Horn made sure that all the visitors could find their way around the department and around campus, showing the hospitality that we would like to foster.

For each event, winners receive a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place medal. The High Point Trophy for the school with the most wins went to Hempfield High School. Congratulations for your excellence!!! There was an extra incentive for the participants this year. The President of the University, Dr. Laurie Carter, and the Office of Admissions provided $1000.00 scholarships for a senior in each language garnering the best scores in two events. The winners had to declare interest in the languages taught in our department or chose International Studies as their major in order to be eligible for this sizable prize.  Since the contest was taking place during an Open House, their registration fees were also waived. The qualifiers were Adnan Alagic (Carlisle High School) in German, and Emily Tsang (Hempfield High School) in Chinese.

2 Students in front of presentation screen 2 students singing

Faculty member awarding female student medal Female professor awarding male student

Male professor presenting medal to male student Female professor awarding male student


Ship-St. Jo: a strong connection

This fall, the French program had the pleasure of welcoming students from the Saint Joseph school in Boulogne, France. The partnership, established by Dr. Blandine Mitaut and Professor Géraldine Rénier, has been going on for several years. Both institutions send students to each other for academic and cultural exchanges that have proven to be fruitful. Local families, in France and in Pennsylvania, receive the students in their homes, making the exchange even more meaningful. The group was also greeted by the Provost, Dr. Barbara Lyman, the Director of International Studies, Dr. Jonathan Skaff, and the Chair of the Modern languages Department, Dr. José Ricardo.

Faculty stand with Provost Lyman


During their ten-day stay, the St. Jo visitors participated in the life at our university in a variety of ways. They arrived as we were celebrating our annual Immersion Afternoon--and our students in the French Program highlighted their region in France--; attended classes--for their majors and with the students in French--; enjoyed lunches at Reisner where they met more of our students; and even had time to exercise at the Ship Rec.

 Students gather to read research on table Male and female faculty pose with male student

Students gather and eat dinner at Reisner dining hall  Students discuss classwork in groups


The historical exploration of our region was part of the stay. The St. Jo students went to Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Baltimore and Frederick to see landmarks in American history, from the American Revolution to the War of 1812 and to the Civil War. This broad panorama gave them insights on events that have shaped our country and were an additional  academic features while with us.

Was there time for fun? Oh yes!! A hike in Pine Grove Furnace State Park; a visit at the Harley-Davidson factory (where we had the great pleasure to be received by a Ship alumna); a trip to a local arcade and go-karting  were among the many fun activities enjoyed by all

The visit concluded with a pot-luck supper attended by the host families and our own students. The send-off included a Karaoke session where everyone had an opportunity to sing, in French or in English.

Student poses with male and female faculty 2 female students pose with male and female faculty

2 female faculty/staff members pose together


Immersion Afternoon

The Modern Languages Department held its annual Immersion Afternoon on  October 24. Our classrooms were transformed in areas of the world, thanks to our students who presented their experiences or the research they had done in their classes. Thanks to the generosity of the Office of Study Abroad, an array of food from around the world was offered. The event is part of the International Education Week. This year, China, Germany, the north of France and several Spanish-speaking countries were part of the event. The visitors could also participate in a treasure hunt, with questions about the exhibits prepared by the participating groups. This year's Immersion Afternoon was a huge success thanks to the efforts of all.

Immersion 1Immersion 2

Immersion 3Immersion 4

Immersion 5Immersion 6

Immersion 3A



Poetry Evening

On the 18th of April, Dr. Robert Lesman hosted a poetry evening titled United in Verse.  Several members of the campus community, students and faculty alike, read poems that are important to them.  They explained the meaning of the poems, read them in the original languages and followed with a translation.  Dr. Lesman had introduced the event by saying that it was designed to highlight our common humanity and common interests.  Among the many languages represented were Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Hebrew, Tshibula, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.  Refreshments were offered afterwards, allowing the participants to answer questions on their presentations and continue the discussion on the poems.

poetry evening 17 1poetry evening 17 2

poetry evening 17 4onlookers listen to poetry

students recites poemStudent recites poem

Student recites poemStudent recites poem

Student recites poemStudent recites poem


Haiti Project

The French Program accomplished again its goals in Gros Mangle this January 2017 ( see link "Haiti Project" for more information).  The students of the double seminar on Haiti (Paige Arensmeyer, ,Andrew Hutchinson, Stephanie Smith and Angelina Stewart), with Drs. Mitaut  and Ragone as well as Mr. Jonas Celius, the Haitian facilitator, guide and translator for the Haiti Project, continued helping with the construction of the dispensary.  The roof was raised this year and the terrain around the dispensary was leveled.  The students also enjoyed Haitian life, learned to cook cal dishes, had fresh coconuts, swam and visited important historical landmarks.  THANK YOU all for keeping a sunny disposition under difficult conditions.  THANK YOU TO THE PEOPLE OF GROS MANGLE for making us feel welcome!!!

Group picture in haiti

Female student talks with a local Haiti studentThree female students hold fruit in Haiti

Students and staff take a truck rideTwo females pair sailing

Group of students on a boat rideStudents work at a rock site


FALL 2016

High School Contest

On the 19th of November, the Modern  Languages Department hosted its 7th annual High School Contest, chaired by Dr. Ragone.  The participants competed in German, French and Spanish.  Drs. Lesman, Mitaut, Pineda-Volk and Wildermuth led the contestants in the game of Jeopardy, judged the poetry presentations and, with Mr. Tim Long, evaluated the Karaoke performances.  Drs. Mitaut, Lesman and Wildermuth evaluated as well some of the contestants for their languages skills though an Oral Proficiency Interview or OPI.  Thanks to the Office of Admissions, the participants were treated for lunch at the Reisner Cafeteria.  Student Ambassadors Karen Rundquist, Zsofia Kandrot, Sarah Kistner, Mitch Nickerson, Ben Hubler and Nate Powles made sure that all the visitors felt comfortable and gave them a tour of campus.

For each event, winners receives a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place medal.  The High Point Trophy for the school with the most wins went to Carlisle High SchoolCongratulations and job well done!!!

Group of students pose with their medals

hs language contest brochure Medals lie on table as students wait

Students patiently waiting for awards to begin Students present in front of room

Two female students present in front of board Group of people pose for photo together

Three females pose together with medal Student shakes hands with professor after winning award

Immersion Afternoon

The tradition of the Immersion Afternoon, initiated several years ago and hosted in the context of the International Education Week, continued this year.  Drs. Mitaut, Wildermuth, Bagués, Ricardo and Ragone had their students present a variety of cultural aspects pertaining to the countries where French, German and Spanish are taught.  As the event coordinator,  Dr. Moraña distributed to the visitors treasure-hunt sheets compiled by the participating professors.  Professor Ning as well as the Saudi Club also participated in this fun event.  Here is a sample of the activities: (photos will soon appear here)

France, presented by Dr. Mitaut and her students

Immersion F-A 1 Immersion F-A 2 Immersion F-A 3

Dr. Mitaut welcomed students interested in the presentations of the participants in her study-abroad program in France.

Germany, presented by Dr. Wildermuth and his students

Student poses with presentation Two female students pose with male faculty member Immersion G 3

Dr. Wildermuth's students had prepared trifolds about Germany and German culture.

Hispanic foods, presented by Dr. Bagués and her students 

Immersion E1 Group of female students pose for photo

The students of Dr. Bagués had presentations about and prepared flan and arroz con leche.

International Karaoke, organized by Dr. Ricardo

Group of students singing karoake Male student singing karoake Female singing karoake Students watch and sing karoake

There was a lot of enthusiasm for singing in all languages!

French-speaking African countries, presented by Dr. Ragone and her students

Three female students pose for photo Two female students pose for photo Group of women pose for photo

Immersion F-C 1  Immersion F-C 2 

Students representing Cameroon (Angela and Coretta Sime) and Niger Alima Gbaguidi) came wearing their beautiful dresses.  Dr. Ragone wore a caftan while Erin Doherty demonstrated how to wear a veil in the Sahara.

The Photo Exhibit:  In the Garden of the Hesperides: The Marvels of Morocco

Dr. Agnes Ragone presents a series of photos taken in Morocco with Dr. Chantana Charoenpanitkul.  The photos are displayed at the Shippensburg University Ezra Lehman Memorial Library (lower gallery) during the first two  weeks of November.  The exhibit features as well artifacts and books from Morocco belonging to Dr. Ragone's personal collections.  The event is part of a series celebrating International Studies Week.

Garden of the Hesperides brochure

Visit of our St. Jo partners

As has been happening for several years now, we had a fall visit of the St. Jo community college in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, accompanied by their professor, Géraldine Rénier.  This followed the visit in early summer of Shippensburg students, under the guidance of Dr. Blandine Mitaut who established the partnership between Shippensburg University and the college.

To read more about the visit, please click below on the link for an article published in the Slate.

ST. JO article

German minor garners a Fulbright scholarship!!


photo of male named Curtis Rabe

Please read his statement:

From Shippensburg to Neumünster: Curtis Rabe 

Beginning in October 2016, Curtis Rabe ’16 will be spending 9 months in Neumünster, Germany as a Fulbright teaching assistant.  This national, highly-competitive program offers American college graduates the opportunity to spend a school year working in German high schools, teaching German students about the United States in their native English while developing their own fluency in the German language and culture.  Curtis had the following answers for SHIP students interested in such an opportunity: 

1. What was your primary motivation to become a German Studies minor?

I had taken 5 years of German before coming to Shippensburg, but initially did not focus on keeping up with the language. After hearing about opportunities to study abroad or apply for the Fulbright Program, I decided to continue learning German and learning about the German culture.

2. How do you feel your German Studies minor complimented your major?

The German Studies minor complimented my Computer Science major by giving me access to non-technical material. I could be creative in and outside of class and learn to communicate with others using a different language. It complemented my major by contrasting with it, providing me an opportunity to thrive in both technical and cultural environments.

3.  How has the minor program provided you with opportunities to develop marketable language and cultural skills?

The German Studies minor program not only taught me about the language and culture of Germany and Austria (and sometimes Switzerland), but it has also given me the opportunity to teach what I have learned by reaching out to the community through opportunities such as presenting to local schools and dining at German restaurants. The program provided me with opportunities to speak with native German speakers and practice the material learned from class. As a result I became comfortable in the language and learned the ability to express my thoughts in alternate ways.

4. How do you feel your German Studies minor prepares you for your Fulbright teaching assistantship to Germany?

To start, the German Studies minor is what made me a competitive candidate for the program. Additionally, the skills learned in the minor program helped me effectively communicate with people in Germany such as my mentor at Theodor-Litt Schule and realtors in an effort to secure an apartment. I am also prepared to speak with respect and familiarity to the various groups of people I will encounter while abroad.

5. What advice would you give other students interested in applying for the Fulbright teaching assistantship?

My advice would be to seek out opportunities to use whatever language you choose to learn. Shippensburg partners with international universities, so there are often international students at Ship.  Befriending these students gives you a chance to network and practice your language skills. Also when applying for programs such as the Fulbright Program, always be sure to use your resources. The professors at Shippensburg want to see you succeed, and in my experience, they are always happy to help improve your application.






Congratulations to Dr. David Wildermuth who was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of German.


Study Abroad

Please check the link to read about this summer experiences in France and Morocco!!



Sixth Biennial Modern Languages Conference

The Modern Languages Department hosted its Sixth Biennial conference on 04/30/16.  Over fifty papers on the topic of immigration were presented by local, regional and national researchers.  The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Abdourahman Waberi, professor at The George Washington University, and explored issues of immigration as seen in his novel Transit.  In the department, Drs. Mitaut, Lesman, Wildermuth and Ricardo were instrumental in making the conference a success.  Dr. Agnès Ragone was the chair of the conference.  The first conference award was also given during the event to the best paper delivered by a student.  This award was won this year by Mikaela McElfresh.  Congratulations to Mikaela and her sponsor, Dr. Lesman.

McElfresh Premio

Mikaela McElfresh with her award for the best student paper.  The award comes with a $300.00 monetary compensation for study abroad.  Mikaela is going to Spain this summer.


Two female students pose with male staff  Male presenter at front of classroom

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Female presented at front of classroom  Female presenter at front of classroom

Group of faculty and staff at dinner  Group of people at dinner

Two male faculty pose with female faculty Two female students pose with female faculty member


Sponsored by Dr. Lesman, Spanish major Janis Martinez presented her research project “El impacto negativo de exámenes de alto riesgo” at the Minds@Work Conference this April. In her excellent work, she took an international approach to studying the negative effects of high-stakes testing in schools and demonstrated that the practice can do academic, emotional and social harm.  

Minds at work poster


The annual newsletter of the department is now available by clicking here.

Mardi Gras Event

The French Club and the Klub Kreyol hosted a Mardi Gras party on the 1st of March to raise funds for a dispensary in Haiti.  The participants received beads and doubloons as well as a recipe for King Cake, the traditional sweet of Mardi Gras in Louisiana.  There were in fact King Cakes and beignets--buns--for all to sample. Drs. Mitaut and Ragone were faculty sponsors for the event and explained the traditions of the festivities.  The students had a great time with Dr. Ricardo who led led the participants in a zouk (Caribbean dance) contest.  The winner for the mask contest was Karen Lundquist; for the best dancers, Jenny Keller and Tim Usher.  The Queen and King of Mardi Gras were also crowned, Ali Mowers and James Jean, respectively.

The event raised $200.00 for Haiti!!!! MESI ANPIL!!!

King and queen of the mardi gras celebration Mardi Gras 2

Mardi Gras3 Mardi Gras 4

Mardi Gras 5 Mardi Gras 6

Service Learning in Haiti

The French Program commitment to Haiti continued this January 2016.  Drs. Mitaut and Ragone offered their double seminar to prepare students for their trip to the island nation.  Ali Mowers, Laura Hilliard, Angela Davis Nana Sime, Fallon Finnegan and Andrew Hutchinson went then to the village of Gros Mangles where, under very harsh conditions, they help build the much needed dispensary.  Kudos for these dedicated students as the goal of raising the walls was indeed reached (last year had been dedicated to building the foundation). Mr. Jonas Celius and Dr. Ragone led this very successful trip.

Group picture1  Group picture2


French Program Study Abroad Trip to France


Ship In France Blog 

The French Program led in May a study-abroad program that took students to Boulogne-St. Martin in the North of France and to Paris.  The students were offered 3 courses to choose from, with the possibility to garner 6 credits.  Dr. Mitaut, who organized the trip, offered the FRN 204 course on ideas and Cultures of the French speaking world.  Dr. Ragone taught the FRN 103 Intermediate French course and FRN 300, the Advanced Conversation course.