How French Cohort Program student Katie Pinter’s passion for language helped her connect to the community and herself


By Aliyah Datoo

Katie Pinter’s passion for French stemmed from her high school days. A late immersion student, she considers her transition from her high school into the French Cohort Program (FCP) in public and international affairs at Simon Fraser University (SFU) as a continuation of her French-language learning journey, this time however with opportunities to learn about other subjects in French.

Currently in her final year in the French Cohort Program pursuing a major in French and an extended minor in Political Science, Pinter’s academic experiences have been further enhanced by the opportunities and supports she received from SFU’s Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA). 

 “Studying different subjects in French was difficult at first, but the [French Cohort] Program offered a lot of academic and linguistic support,” Pinter explains. “I am much more comfortable now writing and speaking in French and am happy with the progress I have made.” 

She also speaks highly of the small class size inherent to the FCP, the cohort, that helped her feel connected to her fellow classmates. The few of them in the program fostered life-long friendships. 

Besides academic supports Pinter received, she reminisces on her once-in-a-lifetime exchange to Université de Tours in France where she studied translation, linguistics and literature. Not only was she able to travel to another country to learn about its culture, but she was also pushed out of her comfort zone and gained a newfound confidence. 

These two experiences may seem different, but both allowed a sense of connection to the French language and those around her.

During her time in the FCP, Pinter felt ready to dive into the Francophone community at SFU. In joining the French Student Union and French Conversation Club, she not only had the opportunity to meet French-speakers in other programs at SFU, but also learned about the broader Francophone community in BC. She took part in organizing different events for SFU students, developing communications initiatives, and supporting French-language acquisition and practice on campus. An example she gave that shows Pinter’s engagement and impact was the organization of a visit to Victoria to have French-speaking students from SFU and the University of Victoria get to know each other and practice their French together.

Pinter’s active involvement on campus also led to an exciting career opportunity. A friend and fellow union executive introduced Pinter to the Conseil jeunesse francophone de la Colombie-Britannique where she quickly went from being a participant to an employee. Katie has been working with them for almost two years.

Pinter mentions that “the skills I learned through my volunteerism as well as my aptitudes in French helped me apply for and take part in different job opportunities” including her current position as Youth Project Coordinator.

Through her combined experiences in the French Cohort Program, volunteerism at Simon Fraser University and work experience, Pinter has been able to network and further develop confidence in herself which, according to her, have enriched her life. Her unique experiences have not only permitted her to home in on variety of transferrable skills and help her feel comfortable speaking French, but, most importantly, they have helped her further connect to and develop a sense of belonging in the community.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to find a sense of community in French. It was definitely tough in high school, but these opportunities do exist and when you finally have that ‘aha’ moment you realize that you feel part of something!” 

Learn more about the French Cohort Program today

Want to get involved en français ? Take a look at the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA)’s student life initiatives.