Scientia 2008: Maria Alena Scavone

Maria Alena Scavone is graduating summa cum laude from Marywood University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Spanish and a minor in Music and Dance Performance. As a Marywood student, she has served as a resident assistant, co-chair for the Foreign Language Department Immersion Day, French tutor, English as a second language (ESL) tutor, orientation advisor (2005), and secretary of the World Languages Club. Maria has participated in campus service activities including Make a Difference Day and KIDSTUFF, and has organized monetary collections for Hurricane Katrina victims and Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need. Maria is a member of Delta Epsilon Sigma National Scholastic Honor Society, Kappa Gamma Pi National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society, and Phi Sigma Iota International Foreign Language Honor Society. She has been on the Marywood University Dean’s List every semester, a participant of the Marywood University Honors Program, and a member of Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities. Maria is honored to have received the Dr. Wanda Persichetti Medal for Excellence in Foreign Languages. Following graduation, Maria intends to teach English as an English Teaching Assistant in France for the 2008-2009 school year. Maria is grateful to all those who have encouraged her to excel, especially her mother and grandmother; the professors of the Foreign Language Department: Dr. Mary Elizabeth Kenny, Dr. Ann Cerminaro-Costanzi, Mrs. Alice Reyes, and Dr. José Reyes; Director of the Marywood University Honors Program, Christina Marie Elvidge; Sister Joan Ciraula, Public Services Clerk; Maria Michelle Sitko, Associate Professor, Library Services; Dr. Peter Spader, Professor of Philosophy; and Margaret Leombruni, Foreign Language Department for their constant support.

Interpreting Common Misunderstandings that Occur between the French and Americans for the Purpose of Promoting Intercultural Understanding

Director: Dr. Mary Elizabeth Kenny
Reader: Dr. Sharon Nazarchuk


Unfamiliarity with French cultural norms when visiting abroad is a factor which inevitably contributes to misunderstandings between Americans and the French. Cultural misunderstandings lead to stereotypes which hinder the potential for the improvement of intercultural exchange on a person to person level. Sufficient knowledge of France’s less visible aspects of culture (rules of proper etiquette, social norms, French perceptions) will promote understanding between the French and American people, provide opportunities to share and further understand aspects of each other’s culture, and guide Americans who wish to enjoy a visit to France without offending or being offended.

Those who are visiting a foreign country judge that culture according to the norms and rules of etiquette governing their native culture, a natural and unintentional mistake. Sociologists call this practice ethnocentrism. Metaphorically, the native culture is often a barrier for people trying to comprehend a new culture.

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