Sally Pressler: A Local Bendite on the Go

Sally Pressler has lived in Bend for 34 years and like many Bendites, enjoys the great outdoors including cross-country skiing, mountain biking and swimming. She is a petite and lively person who also loves to travel and learning. You can see her on the right in the photo.

Sally first learned French when she moved to Ontario as a child and had to learn French in school as a second language. From there she was off to Michigan and then college at Montana State University. In Montana she did an exchange program in Nantes, France for a year where she got to use her French daily and loved this experience. After this, adult life took off for Sally and she took a 30-year break from continuing her French language skills while she was teaching English at Bend High School. But Sally never lost the language and never lost her love for learning.

Last spring, Sally wanted to brush up on her French before planning a post-retirement cycling trip in France. At Bend Language Institute, she discovered people in “the same boat as me.” She met a number of people who had learned French in high school or college but hadn’t used it for years, so they didn’t really fit into more “traditional” French classes. “It was really perfect to find this group and all these other resources,” she explained.

Sally took a spring class in 2023 to improve her French before her trip that was planned for fall of 2023. She explained, “Taking this class here was half the fun – just meeting other people who are Francophones and sharing experiences.”

When talking about her trip she exclaimed, “Oh man I was so glad I could speak French!” Her instructor and former Bend High colleague, Diane Brown, would let students decide what topics they wanted to cover. Then Diane would design a lesson on it. Sally requested one about driving in France and she found it incredibly helpful.

“Being able to communicate was vital. We had mechanical issues with our bikes, and everyone has something special that they need… it was great that I had been able to refresh my French.” She also explained that one of her friends was taking beginning French and she would try stuff out in France, like ordering food.

Now she is back again this winter taking Advanced French. When asked her motivations for continuing, she stated, “I love language and I think that learning a language helps you understand the culture. And allows you to be more than a tourist, it allows you to interact with the culture and the people a little more. Not just taking selfies with the Eiffel Tower behind you.” This last image made me chuckle.

I asked Sally if she could give one piece of advice to others considering studying a new language, what it would be. “Be patient with yourself and relax! It’s fun… as an adult you are doing it to enhance your life.”

Chatting with Sally gave me inspiration to know that no matter where life takes you, you can always continue to learn and engage in the experiences you love.