- Margaret Miner, Associate Professor, UIC French and Francophone Studies
Growing up in Cheyenne, WY, I couldn't begin studying French—something that for no particular reason I'd always been eager to do—until I was twelve, in seventh grade. Fortunately, I was then blessed with a very gifted teacher named Keith Norton, to whom I will always be fervently grateful. During our first meeting, on a beautiful day in late August, he walked over to an open window, shut it, efficiently taught us all to conjugate the present tense of "fermer" (to close), and thus enabled us to say "Je ferme la fenêtre" (I close the window) with ringing panache before class ended. Such a simple thing—but I was truly delighted, a delight that has never left me. And I've always loved the quirky irony of my first sentence in French, which eventually "opened" to me a lifetime of marvelous conversations and books and travels that I would otherwise have missed.