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March is the Month of French Language and Culture

Courtesy of LCG

March is “Le Mois de la Francophonie”, a global celebration of the diversity of those who speak French.

Posted: Mar 15, 2021 2:53 PM

Lafayette, LA - March is “Le Mois de la Francophonie”, a global celebration of the diversity of those who speak French. There are over 369 million French speakers on the planet. In 1970, the OIF (International Organization of la Francophonie) established March 20 as International Francophonie Day (French: Journée internationale de la francophonie), to celebrate the French language and Francophone culture. This was expanded in 1995 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication to a week or more, and now the celebration extends to the entire month of March.

In 2018, the OIF accepted Louisiana as an observer member. The organization represents over one-third of the United Nations’ member states, with a combined population of more than 900 million people on five continents.

French is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. Francophone countries and member states account for 16 percent of global gross domestic product. Being a member of the OIF will bolster trade opportunities, offer greater opportunities for cultural exchanges, and pave the way for better funding for French-immersion schools.

Louisiana is home to an estimated 250,000 French speakers. Another 5,500 students are enrolled in French immersion. Considering that just a generation or two ago, Louisiana had a million French speakers, celebrating the French language and culture is hugely important for a state with such a rich history and connection to the French-speaking world.

Upcoming Events

This listing of Francophone-related events in the Acadiana area is offered by the Lafayette International Center, Lafayette Consolidated Government’s division of International Trade and Development.

Lafayette Flag Raising

Tuesday, Mar. 16 | 9:00 a.m. | Lafayette City-Parish Hall

Lafayette Consolidated Government will raise the flag of the OIF, the International Organization of La Francophonie, to underscore the importance and significance of French language and culture for our area.

For details, contact Roxsan Godeaux (337) 291-5474, ragodeaux@LafayetteLA.gov

“17 Year Locust”

Thursday, March 18 | 10:05 PM | TV5 Monde LUSFiber channel 20 (basic tier)

A narrative short film by Lafayette native Logan LeBlanc, filmed in Lafayette with a Lafayette lead actor and crew. Winner of the #CreateLoujisiana Film Grant, the documentary follows the unlikely crossing of paths between two people living very different lives, their only common connection being the French language. For details, visit 17 Year Locust, Broadcasting, Facebook, Offbeat

Saturday, March 20 | 6:00-8:00 PM CDT | online

A special screening at La Maison Française at the Embassy of France, with a panel discussion with the directors and actors of On va Continuer! and 17 Year Locust. The discussion will be lead by Julie Bordelon of #CreateLouisiana and Matt Mick of CODOFIL. To register, visit La Maison Française.

New Orleans French Film Festival

Saturday, March 27 | 7:45 PM | The Broadside and virtually throughout the Festival (Mar. 23-31) via the eventive platform. One of the longest-running foreign language festivals in the country, this will showcase excellence in contemporary and classic francophone Cinema safely outdoors at The Broadside with all films available to stream at home through the streaming platform. All films will be screened with English subtitles. For details, visit French Film Festival

Frenchie, a podcast

The Frenchie Podcast is dedicated to the stories and legacies of the French-speaking Cajuns of WW II, as told by the veterans themselves. Historian Jason Theriot has recorded oral history interviews with WW II vets from Louisiana who used their bilingual abilities in overseas military service. These Cajuns grew up speaking French. But unlike generations before, they experienced ridicule for speaking French and an Americanization process that sought to do away with this so-called “back-country language” and culture.

When the young Cajuns GIs arrived in French-dominated territories, like North Africa and Europe, their ability to speak French proved invaluable to military operations—and it had a profound impact of their sense of a Cajun identity. What emerged from this unique wartime experience was long-lost pride in their heritage.

The project will convey to the listeners the importance of preserving cultural traits, in particular the non-written, Cajun-French language and dialect that is endangered of being lost to history. A 30-minute “launch” will take place within the next few weeks, with CODOFIL’s Matt Mick introducing the podcast and its creator, Jason Theriot. For details, visit www.jasontheriot.com/current-projects/.

Saint-Luc Immersion

The Saint Luc French Immersion and Cultural Campus is housed in the former Saint Luke Hospital in Arnaudville, and once renovations are complete, will offer a space for long-term residential and short-term adult opportunities to learn French, dealing with such topics as cultural economy, environmental preservation, genealogy and cultural conservation. The Campus, with its partners and volunteers, is bringing French in Louisiana back to life.

One current offering for speakers of French is a literacy course that was originated by Earlene Broussard in 1998, aiming at making Cajuns more literate. Since then, Brenda Mounier has taught the course at various places in the area, and now, at Saint-Luc. The students learn to read from Cajun songs, ads, newspapers, poems—all written by people here, something that surprises them and inspires them to write, too.

For more about the activities of the Campus and to find out how to learn (or improve your) French, visit Saint-Luc Immersion, Facebook, Immersion Campus, and Cultural Revitalization.

French Tables

French Tables have been taking place in southwestern Louisiana for decades, gatherings at area restaurants and in homes and spaces, such as art galleries, where participants converse in French for a couple of hours and go home.

Most French Tables have not been meeting in person because of the COVID19 crisis. To find out how a specific table is handling the situation, contact the organizer of that table, or contact Marguerite (mjustus@crt.la.gov) if the table's description does not include contact information. For more visit www.CODOFIL.org/tables, or contact mjustus@crt.la.gov.

In 2013, Brad Nation, a man living in Acadiana but working outside of the area, saw the utility of a virtual version of a French Table—and founded the Facebook page Cajun French Virtual Table Francaise. Not only is it a place where people can go to practice their French, it has become a learning tool with questions and answers posted.

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