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Four stories of inspiring international women

The astronaut, the resistance fighter, the poet and the politician.

Here at Radio Lingua, we are proud to celebrate International Women’s Day. To mark this day, we asked four members of our team to tell the Coffee Break community about a woman from their home country who has inspired them in some way. From astronauts to poets, we really enjoyed hearing the stories about the four women they chose. Read on to find out which international women inspired Anabel, Francesca, Robert and Pierre-Benoît!

English translations are provided for all texts so that all of our learners can read more about these women, no matter the language they’re learning!

Samantha Cristoforetti

Francesca, our host of Coffee Break Italian, chose ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Ho scelto Samantha Cristoforetti. Samantha è una vera fonte di ispirazione perché è la prima astronauta donna italiana ad aver partecipato ad una missione spaziale.

Se fino a qualche tempo fa i bambini italiani pensavano che bisognasse essere americani per diventare astronauti, ora Samantha Cristoforetti, prima donna italiana nello spazio, ha insegnato che determinazione e duro lavoro sono gli ingredienti base per realizzare i propri sogni.
Samantha, meglio nota come Astro-Samantha, è nata a Milano nel 1977 ed è cresciuta nella provincia di Trento. Nonostante sia italianissima, può essere definita una vera cosmopolita in quanto ha studiato nelle più prestigiose università del mondo e parla ben cinque lingue: italiano, inglese, francese, tedesco e russo! Ha usato quest’ultima lingua mentre era in orbita per comunicare con la sua base in Kazakistan e al momento sta studiando il cinese.
Samantha è anche impegnata in molte cause umanitarie e la sua notorietà ha contribuito a fornire un modello di donna che ha ispirato molte bambine in Italia e nel mondo.

I have chosen Samantha Cristoforetti. Samantha is a real inspiration because she is the first Italian female astronaut to have participated in a space mission.

If until recently Italian children thought that to become an astronaut you had to be American, Samantha Cristoforetti – the first Italian woman to go into space – has now taught us that, thanks to determination and hard work, dreams can come true. Samantha, also known as ‘Astro-Samantha’, was born in Milan in 1977 and grew up in Trento. Despite being fully Italian, she can be described as a real cosmopolitan as she studied at the most prestigious universities in the world and is even fluent in five languages: Italian; English; French; German and Russian (using the latter to communicate with the spaceport in Kazakhstan while she was in orbit). She is also currently learning Mandarin. Samantha is also an active supporter of a number of humanitarian causes, and her growing popularity has contributed to her becoming a positive female role model who has inspired many children in Italy and all over the world.

Sophie Scholl

Robert, our German Social Media Assistant chose resistance fighter Sophie Scholl.

Eine Frau, die mich inspiriert hat, ist Sophie Scholl. Gemeinsam mit der Widerstandsgruppe „Weiße Rose“ rief sie zur Auflehnung gegen den Unterdrückerstaat der Nationalsozialisten auf. Ihr Engagement lehrt uns über die Bedeutung von Rebellion gegen Ungerechtigkeit.

Sophie Scholl war eine Widerstandskämpferin gegen das NS-Regime. Ihr Beispiel zeigt uns, wie wichtig es ist, im Angesicht von Ungerechtigkeit und Unmenschlichkeit zu handeln.

Sophie Scholl wurde am 9. Mai 1921 in Forchtenberg geboren. Obwohl sie zunächst in NS-organisationen tätig war, verlor sie schnell das Vertrauen in der Lehre des Nationalsozialismus angesichts Judenverfolgung und Krieg. Später verbreitete sie zusammen mit ihrem Bruder und anderen Widerstandskämpfern Flugblätter, in denen sie die Taten der Nazis kritisierte und die Bevölkerung zum Widerstand aufrief. Selbst nach ihrer Festnahme, rückte sie nicht von ihren Anschauungen ab.

Ihr Engagement gegen den Nationalsozialismus und ihr Mut sich für ihre Werte einzusetzen beeindrucken bis heute. Sophie Scholl ist ein Vorbild für uns alle und ihre Taten lehren uns über die Bedeutung von Zivilcourage gegenüber stummem Mitläufertum.

A woman who has inspired me is Sophie Scholl. Together with her resistance group “White Rose” she called upon the public to rebel against the National Socialist state. Her efforts teach us about the importance of revolting against injustice.

Sophie Scholl was a resistance fighter against the Nazi regime. Her example shows us, how important it is to act in the face of injustice and inhumanity.

Sophie Scholl was born on May 9, 1921 in Forchtenberg. Although she was initially active in Nazi organisations, she quickly lost confidence in the teachings of National Socialism in the face of pogroms and war. Later, together with her brother and other resistance fighters, she distributed leaflets criticising the Nazis’ actions and calling on the population to resist. Even after her arrest, she did not abandon her views. Her actions against Nazism and her courage to stand up for her values impress us even today. Sophie Scholl represents a role model for all of us and her deeds teach us about the importance of civil courage in the face of mute conformism.

Gloria Fuentes

Anabel, our Spanish Curriculum Developer, chose the poet Gloria Fuentes.

Gloria Fuertes, gran poeta del siglo anterior, nació en una familia humilde en Madrid en 1917. La he escogido porque me crié con ella o, mejor dicho, con su poesía. 

Fue una de las grandes poetas del siglo XX que acercó la poesía a los niños, creando versos que motivaban la creatividad y la sensibilidad de los más pequeños. Su gran impacto como poeta infantil ocultó otras de sus labores y pensamientos humanistas. Recientemente se han rescatado muchas de las ideas que Gloria promovía, como el pacifismo o la igualdad entre hombres y mujeres. Estos valores los consiguió inculcar a toda una generación de jóvenes a través de sus versos y de sus cuentos, en los que además resaltaba la importancia de cuidar el medio ambiente. Aunque también escribió poesía para adultos y participó en programas de televisión, hoy se la recuerda con especial cariño por sus cuentos para niños, que marcó a toda una generación.

Gloria Fuertes, a prominent poet of the last century, was born into a modest family in Madrid in 1917. I have chosen her because I grew up with her or, rather, with her poems.

She was one of the great poets of the 20th Century; making poetry more accessible for children and creating poems which encouraged creativity and sensitivity. Other aspects of her work, and her thoughts on humanism, were concealed behind her huge impact as a children’s poet. Recently, many of the ideas that Gloria promoted – such as pacifism and equality between men and women – have found themselves back in the spotlight. She succeeded in instilling these values in a generation of young people through her poetry and her stories, through which she also highlighted the importance in taking care of the environment. While she also wrote poetry for adults and appeared on television programmes, she is remembered today with particular affection for her children’s stories, which left their mark on an entire generation.

Simone Veil

Pierre-Benoît, host of Coffee Break French, chose French Auschwitz survivor and politician Simone Veil.

Simone Veil, née le 13 juillet 1927 à Nice, a marqué mon enfance en tant que femme politique française, par sa franchise, son côté humain et ses idées progressistes ainsi que sa joie de vivre et son optimisme. Ce n’est que plus tard et peu longtemps après sa mort, que j’en ai découvert plus sur sa vie et les terribles épreuves qu’elle a endurées et sur sa carrière prestigieuse.

Malgré sa déportation à Auschwitz puis à Drancy, la disparition de certains membres de sa famille dans les camps, Simone Veil est toujours allée de l’avant, militant pour que chaque individu ait les mêmes droits et vive dans une monde meilleur. Magistrate, haut-fonctionnaire, ministre à plusieurs reprises (notamment ministre de la Santé avec la “Loi Veil”) , présidente du Parlement européen, membre du Conseil constitutionnel et finalement membre de l’Académie française, elle reste à mes yeux, aux yeux de tous les Français et de tous ceux qui l’ont côtoyée, une grande dame, un être exceptionnel qu’il ne faut jamais oublier.

Simone Veil, born in Nice on the 13th of July, 1927, made a mark on my childhood due to her position as a French politician, her frankness, her human side and her progressive ideas as well as her ‘joie de vivre’ and optimism. It was only later, and shortly after her death, that I discovered more about her life and her prestigious career, as well as the terrible hardship that she had endured.

Despite her deportation to Auschwitz and then to Drancy, and members of her family disappearing in concentration camps, Simone Veil always kept moving forward, campaigning for equal rights and a better world for every individual. She was a magistrate, senior civil servant, minister (notably Health Minister when the “Loi Veil” on abortion was passed) and, finally, a member of the Académie Française, She is, in my eyes, in the eyes of all French people, and in the eyes of all those who stood alongside her, a great woman; an exceptional individual who should never be forgotten.

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