Everyday French

By Andi McDaniel

Mark Ostrem

As a doctor of internal medicine in Massachusetts, Mark Ostrem (B.A. ’72) uses his French on a daily basis—and not only when communicating with his Haitian patients. French is also an integral part of the rest of Ostrem’s life—as well as the lives of his wife, Patricia, twin daughters, and son.

Patricia Ostrem studied French at the University of Iowa and then taught it, and her French skills continue to serve the couple well as they travel in France.

It was pure serendipity that caused their children Kristin, Joanna, and David to fall under the spell of the language. When twins Kristin and Joanna were kindergarten age, their town initiated a French immersion program at their local grade school and the girls were part of the first class. They’ve retained an interest in French ever since.

Ostrem’s son David took a little longer to convert. An aspiring bass player, David went to Switzerland to visit Jacques, a former foreign language student (and professional bass player) who had lived with Ostrem’s family. In addition to helping Jacques translate a dictionary of music terms from French to English, David found in Jacques a musical mentor—and a reason to keep refreshing his French language skills.

When Ostrem decided to study French and pre-med in his days at the U, he could never have expected the eventual benefits. While the actual linguistic skills may be helpful in earning a living, Ostrem says, a French degree—or any liberal arts degree for that matter—“gets you ready for the world we live in.? And you never know when that world may include France.

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This page contains a single entry by cla published on June 27, 2008 8:32 PM.

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