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Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC) not only draws people passionate about global life, but gives those people a chance to begin their global careers. Ralph Stage, a French major, has taken on many of these opportunities.
“I am a SILC ambassador intern,” Stage said. “My job is to help find academic internships and opportunities through the community, the Phoenix metro area, to help promote foreign language study and multicultural exposure.”
In addition to working for the school directly, Stage is also president of the French Club, helping other students improve their own language proficiency. Stage works as the treasurer of the SILC Attachés and helps organize SILC Café, supporting the weekly get-together for students of different language and culture studies to share what they’re doing.
For Stage, his interest in global studies came from his mother, who learned French in the Peace Corps. In high school, Stage would also study Spanish, but French was in the family. Between his French-speaking babysitter and a bilingual elementary school, he developed a strong language background, enabling him to maximize his time at SILC.
“I did the study abroad program in Quebec, Canada, I’ve been to Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Guadalupe, Burkina Faso, Italy, France, London,” Stage said.
“It was really cool to go around the world and see how other people lived, how they interacted with each other,” Stage said. “When I was in Burkina Faso, Africa, I got to speak French with some of the people there … in Quebec it was a full immersion program, so it helped my language skills quite a lot.”
Across nations, Stage found that his ability to communicate directly gave him deeper experiences day to day. Whether it was better restaurants, better exploring or better local friendships, speaking the language let him “interact with the community in a way that you couldn’t get from a tourist brochure.”
Back in Phoenix, Stage’s improved language skills are increasingly useful. Stage plans to get involved in refugee resettlement and prepare to teach abroad, opportunities he’s learned more and more about through SILC. He has immersed himself in an intricate and diverse multilingual community.
“You’d be surprised what you’re missing out on by sticking to just English,” Stage said. “It’s a big world out there, with a lot of great things to check out … you’ll probably find out you love it.”