John Hoobyar '11
My French professors at Goucher set the bar high for being able to read, write, and think in the language. They also encouraged us, their students, to each pursue our individual interests in the language.
John Hoobyar ’11 has been working on a two-year project with dance artists from around the world that led him to West Africa. Hoobyar was an editor for the online publication for the 2019 German Tanzkongress, or Dance Congress. The 2019 congress took place in Dresden, with satellite events around the world. Hoobyar interviewed six artists in French (and one in English) for one such event in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. At the time of this interview in the spring of 2020, Hoobyar had spent the last six months translating the interviews and publishing them in French and English in the Tanzkongress magazine.
How does it feel to have finished this project?
I’m thrilled to finally have these interviews out in the world. Some of the francophone artists I interviewed have not had very many interviews published in English. It’s a privilege to introduce these artists to new English-speaking audiences and help amplify their voices.
Backing up to your time at Goucher, tell me about your study abroad and internship
experience at URACA Basiliade, Paris.
It is an organization that serves the African immigrant community in Paris. My main job as an intern was surveying residents of the Goutte d’Or neighborhood about access to health services. I would go to parks and lobbies of doctors’ offices to talk with people. It was intimidating. But also, a very formative experience. I learned a lot about France’s universal health care system. … The best part about my internship was meeting folks from different regions of Francophone Africa and listening to their stories.
Did your internship with URACA inform your work related to the salon in Ouagadougou?
The internship certainly helped me get my French to a level where, eight years after finishing my studies at Goucher, I can still use it professionally. It also gave me a little insight into the dynamics of migration between France and some of its former colonies. One of URACA’s main initiatives was providing a support network for terminally ill hospital patients from African nations who had no friends or family in France. Many of these patients had come to France seeking medical care that they couldn’t receive in their home countries.
How did your time at Goucher prepare you for the ways that you are using French professionally
My French professors at Goucher set the bar high for being able to read, write, and think in the language. They also encouraged us, their students, to each pursue our individual interests in the language. ... I combined my linguistic anthropological work with my French studies in my senior thesis to study different approaches to translating French slang into English subtitles. I still think about my thesis work when I watch French films with English subtitles today.