MAY 2010


 Our Alumni Spotlight, Marie Younkin-Waldman attended the American College Paris, class of 1964, and has been no stranger to crossing both physical and personal boundaries. Born in Virginia, Marie spent her formative years in Maplewood, NY, before her family moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, during her senior year of high school.

As the daughter of an Austrian businessman working in international exports, Marie was often surrounded by a diverse group of friends and family from all over Europe and the world. Therefore, after enrolling in the American College of Paris, she believes her adaption to ACP’s multi-cultural environment was relatively fluid, “I accepted it as a natural part of life in Paris. I felt that Paris was like a microcosm of the world.”

While discovering the wonders of Paris - in and outside the classroom - Marie was particularly struck by the French-Swiss writer and salon hostess, Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, better known simply as Madame de Staël. Later influenced by Madame de Staël in her professional pursuits, Marie reminisces, “I was in love with Mme de Staël and the concept of her salons which later in life led me to my interview television show, “Tea with Marie,” and our discussions surrounding ideas of beauty, gentility, tranquility.”

Having been born with a progressive hearing impairment, Marie’s mother encouraged her to major in audiology at Mary Washington College, following her completion at ACP. However, having been “spoiled by our fine professors at AUP,” she found herself homesick and struggling with her hearing limitations in the classroom. Making the decision to leave Mary Washington, Marie married “a handsome Marine officer” and was soon a mother of four. While enjoying family life, Marie’s academic and professional interests continued to unfold. With the availability of modern hearing aid technology, Marie enrolled at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and graduated with honors in biology and a minor in French.

After completing her degree at URI, Marie followed a number of passionate pursuits which included starting a nursery; teaching French and science to elementary and secondary students; earning a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and Human Development, specializing as a therapist; and working on disability issues with various Rhode Island agencies such as The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, Tech ACCESS of Rhode Island and initiating a new Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

However, in keeping with her love of Madame de Staël, Marie explains:

One day (after 15 years) I decided that I wanted to do something just to do with me and not hearing loss. I started my own television program called “Tea with Marie” which I produced and hosted on cable television. Our show won several PEG awards and we produced shows related to history, the arts, literature, music, worthwhile non-profits, ecological projects, location shows etc. . . . Our crew was mainly retired teachers and we had a wonderful time for eight years doing the TWM show.

Along with her production of “Tea with Marie,” Marie has been a regular contributor to two newspapers as well as published two books over the past fifteen years. Her first book, Simply South County (Gentility Press, 2003), is a collection of columns from her work with The South County Independent. Marie’s recently published work, To Hear the Birds Sing (Gentility Press, 2009), “is a memoir of life before and after my cochlear implant, the miraculous technology that has changed my life and enabled me to reenter the world of communication in my early sixties.” In the novel, Marie also shares some of her adventures at ACP. In speaking of her experience, Marie adds

now that I can hear, I find that I must work on my learning to listen after many years of not doing so. The listening is the most important part of all of us. It is in truly listening to each other that we validate and love each other. It is in listening mindfully to each other that we have the hope for peace in the world

Many thanks to Marie for being in our Spotlight! If you would like to learn more about Marie’s latest book, To Hear the Birds Sing, please
click here. You may also purchase her memoir on  If you would like to view episodes of “Tea with Marie,” please visit




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