Students Tackle ‘Otherness’ at Eloquence Competition

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Three Fordham students took top honors at the third annual Prix d’éloquence on April 24.

Paul Novak, Mariam Moustafa, and Amelia Ahn were part of a team of Fordham College at Lincoln Center students who competed with students from Columbia and New York Universities to tackle influential French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s famous assertion that, Je est un autre (“I [am]somebody else”).

Held at the French Embassy in Manhattan, the annual competition of eloquence challenged students to answer in French the complex question—“Do we experience ourselves as if it belongs to another person?”

“In the working world, public speaking is a vital skill to have, and students learned some valuable lessons about confidence and engagement,” said Hélène Godec, an artist-in-residence of Fordham’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, who helped the students prepare for the competition.

Ahn, in her presentation “The masks that we wear,” argued that when we use social media we’re not actually portraying our true selves. Rather, we are presenting an “other” self.

Ahn said she enjoyed presenting her ideas because it helped to her to become more comfortable speaking in public.

“It was a good learning experience,” she said.

Novak used Jean-Paul Sartre’s description of anti-Semitism and Jewishness to explore the philosophical concept of “alterity,” or otherness, in his presentation.

“The largest point of my piece was about how fear of the unknown and ignorance toward others is what creates ‘the other,’” he said.

He said the competition allowed him to further immerse himself in the French language.

“Hearing native and non-native speakers present their ideas is a great chance to practice listening, conversation, and overall interlingual communication,” he said.

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