Mathieu Depeursinge, teaching assistant
‘It is quite normal to turn a corner in Lausanne and come across an astonishing scene that breaks with everyday routine. That's the charm of this town.’
Why did you choose to begin your doctorate at the HEP in Lausanne?
MD | I first studied the arts, French and philosophy at the UNIL. Then, after spending a year in England working as an assistant in FLE at the University of Canterbury, I trained to be a teacher at secondary II level, at the HEP, a job that I then did for a year. As my doctorate is concerned with the reading of contemporary poetry, the HEP turned out to be the ideal place for an interdisciplinary course covering didactics and literary studies.
What were your first impressions when you arrived in Lausanne?
MD | I come from Lausanne. It's a town where you can sense that there's dynamic cultural activity. I'm thinking of the many festivals and museums.
What do you consider to be a key feature of working as an assistant at the HEP Vaud?
MD | To start with, we are the first intake of assistants at the HEP. This post stipulates that half of our contracted hours are devoted to our doctorate projects, and the other half to various teaching assignments, research and administration. In my opinion, the key to working as an assistant at the HEP is to always be midway between theory and practice.
Can you tell us about any memorable events you have experienced during your assistantship?
MD | Two things come to mind. The creation, with my fellow assistants, of the HEP Vaud association of assistants (ADA-HEP), which has enabled us to compare notes on our research and play an active part in the life of the institution. And the organisation of the Twelfth Congress of the AiRDF (International Association for Research in Teaching of French) on the teaching of French in the digital age, which was held at the HEP in August 2013. The many tasks with which I have been entrusted, whether in research or administration, have facilitated my access to the world of French teaching.
What do you get out of your work as a graduate teaching assistant?
MD | The opportunity to do my thesis under ideal conditions: time at my disposal and plenty of intellectual exchanges feeding into my research.
What are you going to do after your doctorate?
MD | Several channels are open, but mainly in education. At a higher level, at the HEP, if the opportunity presents itself, and perhaps in classes at secondary level. The work at ‘MATAS JUMP’ (‘module d’activité temporaire à la scolarité’ [temporary activity module for schools]), at the Maison des jeunes d’Entre-Bois, an organisation with which I collaborate as part of my thesis, is of particular interest to me. I would be happy if I could work, in parallel, in adult education and with adolescents who ‘drop out’ of school.
Would you recommend Lausanne as a town in which to do your doctorate?
MD | Yes, without hesitation, I've never regretted living here.
What is your fondest memory of Lausanne?
MD | Generally speaking, I have many vivid memories of this town. Walking through the centre yesterday, for example, I suddenly found myself confronted with an installation for the Lausanne Gardens initiative, in a square normally covered in concrete. In no other town have I ever walked past a field of flowers in a place where I expected to see parking spaces. It is quite normal to turn a corner in Lausanne and come across an astonishing scene that breaks with everyday routine. That's the charm of this town.
Interview conducted by | Tom Crawford