After Bridget Ryan ’23 graduates from Stonehill College this spring, she hopes to jet off to France for a little “repos et détente” (rest and relaxation).

“I plan to visit for at least two weeks, do a little traveling around the country and have some fun,” she said.  

The Groton, Massachusetts, native is well-prepared thanks to her experience in the Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), which not only exposed her to French culture but also allowed her to enhance her linguistic skills. 

Working with Languages, Literatures and Cultures faculty, Ryan, an international business major with minors in French and data analytics, helped produce a podcast called Sounding Translation. This unique project features interviews with poets based in the United States and France. The artists reflect on the experience of translating contemporary poetry between French and English. These interviews will be archived at PennSound, the largest independent U.S. archive of poetry-related recordings. 

Ryan transcribed conversations, edited audio files, wrote biographies highlighting the poets/translators interviewed, and recorded introductions and conclusions for each episode. The task of writing transcripts required the SURE scholar to pivot between French and English, as the speakers often switched from one language to another throughout their interviews.

“One of the reasons I wanted to work on this project was to immerse myself in the French language,” Ryan said. “I wanted to push myself and achieve a new level of fluency, not only when it comes to speaking the language but also writing it.”

Besides helping students gain practical communication skills, Professor Peter Mahoney, Languages, Literatures & Cultures Department chair, notes that the experiential learning opportunities available to students in the program have other significant benefits.

“Those who are bilingual are equipped with the knowledge and experience to combat stereotypes about otherness that so often impede local and global prosperity,” he said. “Moreover, they are better able to navigate the complexities of intercultural exchange so as to build enduring professional and personal connections both at home and abroad.”

Working on Sounding Translation has also instilled in Ryan a technical fluency.

Ryan ’23 uses the podcast studio in Stonehill’s Digital Innovation Lab.

“I’m using the podcast studio in Stonehill’s Digital Innovation Lab to record intros and conclusions for the episodes,” Ryan said. “I’m specifically making use of a program called Adobe Audition. I’ve never used any sort of audio editing technology before this experience. I’m excited to exercise a new creative part of my brain.” 

Another aspect of the project that thrilled Ryan was the opportunity to “sit adjacent to stimulating conversations.”

“Listening to these interviews has helped increase my cultural and interpersonal understanding,” she said. “Hearing these artists’ perspectives has been invaluable.” 

As she thinks about all that she has been able to do and learn through SURE, Ryan hopes future students take advantage of this research initiative.

“Some people say to themselves, ‘I don’t want to do anything school-related on summer break,’ but a project like this is so special,” Ryan said. “Fully immersing yourself in a subject you love is so much fun.”

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