Interview with Catherine Droszewski

by Lynette Teo & Sila Ceyhan

On 9 July 2021, Vincent Fertey, the former Campus Director of Sciences Po Le Havre wrote an email directed to the students that his professional journey as the Administrative Head had come to a closure as he went on to take a sabbatical leave. Exactly a month since then, on the 9 of July, the formal appointment of Catherine Droszewski as the interim Campus Director was announced to the student body in an email by him and the Dean of Sciences Po Undergraduate Colleges Stéphanie Balme, welcoming a new chapter of the administrative and social life of the campus.

The Editors of the English Print of Le Dragon Déchaîné invited Ms Droszewski, previously the Academic Program Manager, to share a few words with us about herself and the new position that she now occupies.

LDD: Could you tell us more about yourself and how you came to Le Havre and Sciences Po?

Catherine: Three years ago, I was recruited here to the Euro-Asia campus because I’d been studying Japanese and International Relations, which is relevant to the Le Havre campus. When I first arrived, I didn’t know the city at all, so I was just like the first-year students [here]. It is a strange and unusual city because it has been rebuilt right after the Second World War and the architecture is extremely specific. But I really like it a lot – The wide avenues are nice to stroll and cycle along, and we have the sea!
So, the short story of how I came to Le Havre. My personal background is in International Relations and Japanese, which I studied in France. I worked for a certain number of years at the French public administration, writing reports about the political situation and security issues in Asia to keep it brief. In 2011, after the Fukushima accident, I had the opportunity to go to Japan to work at the French embassy. I was very happy to spend four years in Japan and it was a very interesting experience. I worked at ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration), the National School for Administration in Paris for three years. And then I came here to LH! I was born in Alsace, in the other part of France, and I travelled West to end up in Le Havre.

LDD: How do you feel about being the campus director?

Catherine: I’m very proud and happy! I know it’s a high and heavy responsibility, but I have an excellent team with me. We get along very well and I’m very happy to to work with them and have their support, which really means a lot to me. Personally, I’m also happy to be director as it means that I’m going to stay a few more years in Le Havre. That would be perfect because I fell in love with the city the first time I [had] arrived. The first three days I spent in LH, I was captivated by the architecture, the sea and the trees, and I said “I want to live here, it’s so peaceful.”

LDD: If you were to compare being the campus director to one thing, what would it be?

Catherine: I consider a campus to be just like a consulate. Perhaps this is because of my experience working in embassy or the “cultural network institute” institut français. The consulate is always linked to a center but is rather autonomous in what it does. You have to report to your superiors – I have to report to the college universitaire, to the Dean. But at the same time,
even if I have a curriculum to observe and to respect, I still have a certain amount of freedom of organizing life on campus. I find this very interesting because while we are linked to a center, we have our own community here in Le Havre. The staff is also not so numerous, so my colleagues and I work together closely as a team and share a strong bond.

LDD: What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?

Catherine: Without a doubt, the most exciting thing is to have all our students and teachers back on campus. I’m very excited to see many activities by the students again, and I’m sure we’ll all experience the dynamism of all our associations. What struck me when I came here three years ago is that there were always people in the corridors, painting in the classrooms, rehearsing for a performance, or playing sports – anything, really! So I’m very excited to have
such a stimulating, exciting and interesting environment on campus again. My aspiration is that the dynamism of the campus will return. I’m very excited to see the next Diwali festival, Christmas ball, Lunar New Year celebrations and the musical.

LDD: Any worries or concerns about the year ahead?

Catherine: Because we were learning online for the past year, we are worried about your concentration capacity now (laughs). When you learn online, you sometimes just stand up, make yourself a cup of coffee, you come and go back to listening… I’m curious to see how you will react in class, two hours in the classroom with a teacher. And then my other curiosity is about exams and tests. You are no longer used to having three-hour exams, so this might be a challenge for you. We definitely have high expectations regarding work and studies, but also to create a vibrant student life.

LDD: What is your favorite thing about the LH campus?

Catherine: The international community we have on campus. We are such a diverse and rich student body. We have students coming from various political backgrounds. with different constitutions and political regimes, and this is so important for the students to discuss about important issues both in class and outside the classroom. Our community is an important element in debates, conferences and so on. As students of political science, you can have on campus interesting debates about what’s going on in Asia with so many different and
interesting perspectives.

LDD: What is one piece of advice you would give to students?

Catherine: You’ve been studying on zoom for several months, so try to switch off your laptops and talk to people, real people! Go back to real life instead of the digital life. Enjoy your time in Le Havre, go out and experience all that you’ve missed.

Le Dragon Déchaîné cordially welcomes her and wishes her the best as she continues her journey, investing valuable time and energy in the overall development and welfare of Sciences Po, Campus du Havre.

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