In the News

Chelsea Williams


Dr. Williams was in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, as part of a one-month immersive internship to improve her knowledge of the French language. She is in the waiting pool for deployment with Doctors Without Borders (Médecin sans frontières).

DISCLAIMER: The original article states that Dr. Williams is being deployed to the DRC which is not correct. Dr. Williams has not been assigned a location yet.

This article also contains statements by Dr. Williams which reflect her medical expertise, as well as her political views. These are the views of Dr. Williams and do not necessarily represent the views of UW, UW Medicine, or the Department of Emergency Medicine.

The original article is in French.

Below is an English transcription:

Médecin sans frontières… in quarantine in Trois-Rivières!

TROIS-RIVIÈRES - Leaning on the balustrade of the balcony of the apartment in the Sainte-Cécile district where she has lived for ten days, Chelsea Williams is trying as best she can to take advantage of the good weather that Mother Nature offers almost daily since the beginning of summer.

About to be dispatched on a mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a French-speaking country in Africa, the American-born doctor without borders is currently in Trois-Rivières as part of a one-month immersive internship to to improve their knowledge of the French language.

But the COVID-19 pandemic requires, she had to be placed in quarantine for the first 14 days. The 31-year-old, who grew up in northern California and currently works in Alaska, was therefore forced to put aside the cultural and exploratory component of her refresher training during the first half of her stay in Trois-Rivières soil. For her, Trois-Rivières has so far been limited to the apartment located on the third floor of a triplex on rue Sainte-Angèle. But she intends to recover from this Sunday, when her quarantine will be over.

'I can't wait to be able to go out, walk and talk to people other than my trainers! And I can not wait to taste the poutine,' she answers spontaneously to the first question asked by the representative of the Nouvelliste in the context of an interview which resembled the scene from the balcony of the play Romeo and Juliet than to a traditional interview conducted by a journalist.

Despite the small inconvenience caused to her by quarantine, the one who notably attended the renowned Northwestern University in Chicago as part of her medical studies fully understands the decision of the Canadian authorities to impose a quarantine on visitors and returning Canadians.


The interview with Le Nouvelliste took place in a special setting.

The interview with Le Nouvelliste took place in a special setting.

She considers herself lucky to have finally been able to come to Trois-Rivières to complete this internship which was initially planned for April. It was because she had to follow him in order to do humanitarian work that she was able to cross the border, since foreign students were still banned from staying in Canada.

Because of her professional interests, she is obviously interested in how Canada is handling the current health crisis. According to her, the measures put in place, in particular the obligation from this Saturday to wear a mask in closed public places, are necessary in order to limit the chances that a second wave paralyzes the activities of the country again.

She adds that Americans should follow the lead of their neighbors to the north and put in place similar measures to slow the spread of the virus.

'But it must be said that the current president [Donald Trump] is not really helping,' she drops. More dangerous in the United States.

If all goes as planned, the organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will be able to call on its services from 1 August. It is for this reason that she could not further delay her refresher course in French. She also says she is excited at the idea of ​​going to Africa to provide care to people who would not have access if it weren't for the existence of organizations like MSF. In addition, she is not overly concerned that the current pandemic is also hitting Africa. 'It's much worse now in the United States,' she laments.

Since 2004, more than 400 humanitarian workers from all over the world have benefited from the lessons of the Sur les routes du français school in order to perfect their knowledge of the language of Molière, in order to be able to communicate adequately during missions in one of the French-speaking countries of Africa.

This school is the idea of ​​Patricia Trinquet, a language teacher of French origin established in Trois-Rivières since 2015. At the time she was living in the Bas-du-Fleuve region, a friend who worked for Médecins sans frontières told him that several of his colleagues, both doctors and employees assigned to non-medical tasks, had poor knowledge of French. These shortcomings made it quite difficult for them.

Suddenly, she had the idea of ​​creating an evolving training that can be adapted to all the tasks of humanitarian workers. Thanks to the contacts of her friend, she was able to sell her idea to the leaders of the humanitarian organization.

Since then, she has welcomed, in Trois-Rivières since she has lived there and in Trois-Pistoles previously, students from all over the world.

'What I offer is a professional humanitarian French program for adults. I only work in the humanitarian field with Médecins sans frontières, the International Red Cross, the United Nations and other similar organizations. […] It is a specific and personalized program. For example, a doctor will learn all the vocabulary to be effective in the field, in the country where he will be on mission. So it's a lot of work for each person because the training I offer is constantly updated. When there is something that changes in the cold chain, they send me the information right away. I am the only one to do that,' explains Ms. Trinquet. The latter offers the same service in English, but from Toronto.

The immersive experience offered by Sur les routes du français lasts one month. Five days a week, students must take three hours of grammar and vocabulary classes in the morning and participate in discussions in the afternoon. The activities generally take place in a noisy environment, which favors the assimilation of acquired knowledge, according to Ms. Trinquet.

In addition, students are also looked after and lodged with families in Trois-Rivières or with members of the team led by Patricia Trinquet.

Obviously, they take advantage of their stay to discover the beauties of the region and the people who live there.

'The social aspect is very important. When they are on a mission, they must necessarily live in a camp. They are not allowed to go out and there is a curfew. You have to know if they are capable of living for 6 to 12 months with the same people,' says Ms. Trinquet, before adding that she has the power to recommend that MSF leaders cancel a student's mission if she considers that he does not have the required social skills.

'I once had a nurse whose level of French was excellent, but he was unable to socialize. It goes beyond the French language,' she explains.