My Attempts to get an Interview

Well I have to say the most difficult thing in the eminent study was the interview. I tried to attain an interview multiple times with multiple people. So let me show you my attempts to get this interview, in the order I sent the messages.

1st attempt:                                                                                                                             I found a professor that wrote a book about Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle’s relationship. The Wikipedia article claimed that he worked at the University of Paris, but as I emailed them with this message:

“Hi, I’m Kevin Fang from Gleneagle Secondary School and I’m doing a project on Charles de Gaulle. I was wondering if you could give me the email of François Kersaudy, who I believe is a historian and a professor of English, so that I may perhaps ask him a couple of questions to find out more about Charles de Gaulle.
Thank you for your time.”

They responded with :

“Dear Kevin,
Mr. Kersaudy is teaching at Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1), not Paris-Sorbonne University.
I invite you to reach out with Paris 1 :
I wish you best of luck with your project.
Kind regards”

Once I took a look at the new university website, I realized that it was in french, and there was no English website; so I gave up the chase.

2nd attempt: After doing some more research, I found the email of a professor studying Charles de Gaulle. But after emailing him, it turns out that the email that I found was deactivated and that there was no forwarding address. The trail went cold from there and I moved on to different people.

3rd attempt: This time I tracked down a professor working at UBC. UBC’s website said that he has historical perspectives on the 19th century and had expertise in WW2 Japanese/Chinese activities. So I figured if he had done both of these things he could answer a few questions for me about Charles de Gaulle. My email to him:

“Hi Mr. Brook. My name is Kevin Fang and I am currently doing a project on Charles de Gaulle. He is a very intresting man who is a great french leader. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions of mine about the French army in World War 2. This insight would be incredibly helpful to me and I would appreciate it very much.

Thank you.”

He responded with:

“Dear Kevin,

I am a historian of China. You really need to ask someone who works on France.

Tim Brook”

At which I requested that he might introduce me to some colleges that would better answer my questions. This was over a week ago, he hasn’t responded back. So I went looking for someone else to interview.

4th attempt: Last week, I found Mr. Robert Tombs, a professor of 19th century french political history working at Cambridge University. I emailed him this:

“Hi Mr. Tombs, I’m Kevin Fang and I’m currently doing a research project on Charles de Gaulle. Since you have expertise in 19th century French Politics, I was wondering if you could answer some questions of mine about Charles de Gaulle’s early life and his rise to fame. This insight would be incredibly helpful to me and I would appreciate it very much.

Thank you for your time.”

And he responded with this:

“I might be able to help.  What research are you doing?”

I was in hope! I emailed him 2 days ago with my questions:

“I am currently researching Charles de Gaulles political views and actions. I have attached a list of questions down below. Please answer as many questions as you can. If it’s outside your knowledge,it is 100% ok with me if you leave it blank. Thank you again for all your help.

1. How where Charles de Gaulle’s feelings towards the British in his early life? (I know he had rocky relationships with the British during WW2)

2. How did other political leaders feel about Charles de Gaulle during WW2?

3. Why did Charles de Gaulle decide to join the army?

4. What are your feelings about Charles de Gaulle’s achievements?

5. Why was Charles de Gaulle so independent from other countries?

6. Did Charles de Gaulle’s behavior change the way other political leaders looked at France?

7. Would you say that Charles de Gaulle made a big difference in how France is now?

8. Any final comments on Charles de Gaulle’s childhood or anything related to his politic career?

Thank you for your time, this will help me greatly in my project.”

To which he hasn’t responded to me yet, and now that this project is due, there is very little chance he will contact me tonight.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my story of how I tried to get an interview. Despite the fact that I was unable to obtain an interview in the end, I feel that I have learned a lot from this experience. Some things that I have learned are: Because most professors are busy with their own work, if you show that you don’t show enough understanding of your topic/did enough research, they will generally ignore you. (Which is what I think happened between me and Mr. Brooks). Also, if you bombard them with too many questions and they have no time to answer them, they won’t answer them. (Which is what I think happened between me and Mr. Tombs). I will now be able to put my new-found knowledge into my environmental issues study.





1. For a detailed article about Charles de Gaulles entire life, from his childhood, to his death, and everything in between, check out the link here

2. I used this link the the Free French army Wikipedia page that I used as one of the units someone could join in my learning center. It contains everything about the Free French army. (Also has information on Charles de Gaulle). Click here

3. The second unit that someone could join at my learning center. This link is a Wikipedia article about what the French First Army did in its history. Click here

4. Another link that I used as one of the units someone could join in my learning center. This time the article is about the French 2nd Armored Division. Click here

5. This article was used by me when researching for my speech. It documents the shaky relationship between Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill. Click here

6. The second of the three articles I used in the research of my speech. Basically the same information as the link above, I used this one to match up facts. Click here

7. The last article I used in my research of my speech. Again, it contains most of the same information as the previous two articles, as I used these three links to match up facts. Click here

8. I used this link in my powerpoint in my learning center. It contains 10 different intresting facts about Charles de Gaulle, including the legacy he left behind. Click here



Learning center

Well now that Night of the Notables is over, its time to relfect on how the night went. First off, with my learning center.

My learning center, Photo credits : TALONS Flickr

My idea for my learning center came from de Gaulle’s military past. I set up my center like a wartime recruitment office, with the poster hanging to the right of my head. I also had my laptop running a 9 slide power point displaying all Charles de Gaulle’s achievements before 1944. The three pieces of paper you can see to the right of my laptop are short paragraphs about the military units one could join; with one being related to Charles de Gaulle and two other units. After a unit was chosen, I proceeded to explain what happened to Charles de Gaulle after World War ll, as I had been posing as an officer in 1944. I felt that my learning center had a good hook (The Uncle Sam recruitment poster), an interactive section (I had people choose what unit they wanted to be in, the handed out the badges of the different units they had chosen), and a good amount of information (I explained most of it, but the power point contained Charles de Gaulle’s achievements). One thing I wish I had done though was to have practiced what I was going to say before hand, I actually winged what I said about de Gaulle of my memory, and unfortunately got a fact wrong even though it was displaying on my power point (The power point said de Gaulle made five escape attempts, I said he made 4). Using these experiences, I will definitely be more prepared next year.

I think the thing that I will remember the most about Night of the Notables is how tired I felt after it was over. It felt exactly like a sugar crash, despite the fact that I had very little sugar during the night. Overall, the night was a great experience as I was able to see what my classmates have been working on for the past month. The grade 10 speeches were also amazing, the amount of effort put into them really showed that night. So far, Night of the Notables has definitely been the highlight of TALONS, and I can’t wait for it next year.

Finally, Night of the Notables could not have been done without the planning the grade 9s put into the event. They brought the food needed for the guests, and also planned everything out in a much shorter timeline. I would also like to thank the teachers and parents for their guidance through all these months. Without any of these people, Night of the Notables would not have been this successful.

I’m happy to say that I have met my goals for this project. I have become more confident in public speaking and also I know much more about Charles de Gaulle then when I first read that Wikipedia article a month ago. The eminent person project has been one of the best parts of TALONS so far, and although I was a little overwhelmed at first, I now look forward to doing it next year.