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Embracing the Unexpected in Senegal and Spain


In a year of back-to-back overseas programs, Charlotte Freed ’20 spent fall semester in Dakar, Senegal, studying French. From there, she traveled to Spain for another semester abroad, studying mainly the Spanish language and Spanish culture. What more could a foreign languages and world politics major ask? How about an internship at the U.S. Department of State?

She has been accepted to work as an intern this summer in the department’s Bureau of African Affairs in Washington, D.C.. She’s convinced her experiences abroad helped her get the position. 

about Charlotte Freed '20

Majors: Foreign Languages and World Politics

Hometown: Gloucester, Mass.

High School: Manchester Essex Regional High School

For Freed the most exciting thing about being abroad is encountering something new every day and not knowing what’s coming next. She loves learning about the languages, the cultures — and herself. 

“I know I will have a better fluency in both French and Spanish because of cultural and language immersion, and I hope to come back to Hamilton with a new perspective and understanding on how some parts of the world work," she says. “I also think I’ve become more independent, adaptable to different situations, and understanding of different cultural perspectives.”

Freed started learning French in elementary school and took on Spanish in high school. By the time she got to Hamilton, the foreign languages major was a natural fit. She could continue studying her second and third languages and also major in world politics. Language is an important tool to closing the gaps between different populations, she observes.

“In Senegal, I took a class in Wolof, which is one of the many languages spoken there. I would not say that I have a good understanding of the language, but it was a really cool way to understand the culture better and to show people that I really was trying to immerse myself in their culture and not solely speak French, which is the ‘colonizer’s language,’” Freed says. “This experience showed me that learning a local language can help you to better interact with people because it shows you are trying to understand their culture.”

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