A day into the life of a French professor— or is he really Korean?
A day into the life of a French professor— or is he really Korean?
  • 차지혜 기자
  • 승인 2008.06.03 15:16
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             Yoboseyo (Hello)? Yes, this is Pascal speaking,” says Professor Pascal Grotte (Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation) in fluent Korean. Just by hearing his tone and voice, no one would imagine that this man is a French. Grotte, better known as Professor Pascal to students, is indeed a French professor at Ewha, the only foreign professor who can teach in Korean throughout his class.




           “Here you are, welcome to our class! We were just having a short break,” greets Grotte, wearing a neat suit with a red tie, letting the reporter come in and take a seat beside him. Inside the room 506 of theInternationalEducationBuilding , Grotte is teaching his first class for Wednesday, a Korean-French Literature Translation class.




             After a break of about five minutes, Grotte and three graduate students continue their discussion, which is held both in French and Korean. Grotte reads a passage in French and then explains in Korean. “I like this phrase! It has a clear translation,” says Grotte, praising a student.




The class seems more like a study group, with four people gathered in one table, having an intimate discussion. “We only have three students in  the Korean-French Translation Major. However, the class is really fun and is better for students since we can have one-on-one discussions and students can ask whatever they want,” says Grotte on the way for lunch after the class ended.




The place Grotte chose for today’s lunch is Bab, near the main gate. Grotte seems to care about his health saying that he likes the well-being food at Bab. The owner of the restaurant knows his face and they exchange jokes. Grotte orders soy bean stew saying that it is his favorite. Students at the next table seem to recognize him and foreign people surprisingly look at Grotte when he speaks, amazed at his fluent Korean.




After lunch, Grotte heads to his office in the Humanities Building B. He got his own office last semester after wandering around Ewha for eight years without his one. It is a well-decorated rectangular room with a cozy atmosphere. The room has four cabinets, all of which is filled with books.




On the wall, 30 different black and white photos of places around Seoul are hanging with Gwanghwamun in the middle, showing that the arrangement of the photos is in accordance with the geography ofSeoul .




After a short conversation, Grotte turns on his computer and starts translating the last page of a bthesis paper he has been working on, written by a French diplomat to Korea in the 19th century. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in both Japanese and Korean. In November 2002, he also completed his doctoral dissertation on Korean Annexation Research through Korea-Japan Diplomatic Relations




The only sound that is heard for about an hour is his typing and classical music that he plays. Then, a phone call from his children breaks the silence. “What did you eat for lunch?” asks Grotte. The voice of a little girl answers back in Korean. Suddenly, the conversation changes to French. The children, who are both born and living incan speak both languages fluently, like their parents.




Grotte has two children, a 9-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. The faces in the picture in the room show that the two children look similar to Grotte, especially the younger one. When told that they are too cute and handsome, he replies, “I know. That is why I feel I am living a successful life.”




About 3:20 p.m., Grotte stands up and heads to the Ewha-POSCO Hall for his last class, Basic French. Different from the previous one with relatively few students, this class has more than 30 students. Grotte reads out a passage slowly enough for students to understand and follow. The students often burst into laughter when Grotte speaks with a sense of humor.




Although it has been a pretty hectic day for Grotte, he never complains. “I am thankful that I have different levels of class each day. If I teach the same class for a day, it might have been less interesting,” says Grotte.




Grotte leaves the school right after the class to pick up his children and goes home early to help them with their homework. However, every Wednesday, since his class ends late, someone else is takes them home. “My son said he does not have much homework for today, so I am planning to stay in my office for a little bit more,” says Grotte heading back to his office to finish the book he is translating.




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