French Heritage Award Ceremony
On June 23, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York welcomed the students of the French Heritage Language Program for the end of the year party and the annual reward ceremony. Nearly one hundred students took part in this festive event. Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, Bénédicte de Montlaur addressed the students with the following remarks.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, it is a great pleasure to have you among us again.
We hope you know just how highly we value the French Heritage Program here at the Cultural Services. However, while it is a project that is at the heart of our mission, we are not the only ones to champion it. There are many others – such as the president and founder of the French Heritage Language Program, Jane Ross, the FACE Foundation, and the International Network for Public Schools, as well as all of our partners and sponsors, Catherine and Alan Dumait Harper, the Lycée Français de New York and the International Organization of the Francophonie. I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that this program has been close to our heart for over 10 years since it began.
The French Heritage program is a large family that works with a passionate core of teachers and assistants who pour all of their energy day after day into making the French Heritage program the success that it is.
I take this opportunity to thank them today for all that they have done and for organizing so many creative and inspiring trips and activities for you throughout the year.
So un grand merci to: Curran, Nassira, Sophia Lauren, Hassanatou, Bassirou, Pieyirigue, Jean-Baptiste, Yacine and Guilhem.
We are very pleased to receive you today and we want to tell you that we know…
We know and understand that your priority is to learn English;
We know that some days after school, you would much prefer to go home rather than stay two hours longer in French Club;
We know that sometimes you promise a cousin or a friend to accompany them to buy a new pair of sneakers immediately after school, when after school programs are scheduled;
We know that sometimes your mother asks you bring your little sister home and that you must leave class earlier;
We know that in the second semester your calendar fills up as you start your business internships, and you sadly cannot spend the afternoons at school;
We know that when sunny days arrive, the prospect of revising for your AP French exam does not seem very… motivating (and we understand)!
And we also know that when the sports season begins, the French Club often cannot compete with soccer games or tennis matches.
We know all this.
But we do not stop because we are convinced it is also in your best interest to keep going. If you have great dreams that require a stellar education, if you want to rise up the ranks in your professional future, or if you wish to sustain social and family ties with those close to you in Africa, in Haiti or anywhere else across the 5 continents where French is spoken, we remain convinced that you must maintain, and improve upon your oral and spoken mastery of the language.
The French language is as much a part of your linguistic heritage as are Creole, Wolof, Fulani, Kotokoli, Ewe, Malinke, Bambara or Soninke - among other languages.
You are part of a community of individuals enriched, from an early age, by an invaluable linguistic capital that is essential to preserve and cultivate.
Some of you are thinking about or preparing to go to college. Apart from the inspiring education you will receive, you will soon realize that speaking French is a tool that could mean the difference between landing a job or not.
The French Heritage program has now existed for 11 years. During that time, 4,000 students have participated in the program, including at least half in the International High School in New York.
We believe that this program can be a valuable way of developing your professional network.
It is precisely for this reason, among a multitude of others, that we recently launched a network of French Heritage alumni. You hope this will help you stay with us and with yet other. We want to know if speaking French proves to be as invaluable in your professional life as it has been in ours.
We encourage you to register on the Facebook group created by Hassanatou on the French Heritage Language Program page.
As I have said before, we are very pleased to receive you today. The certificates that you are about to receive are our way of encouraging and recognizing your impressive commitment to this program.
Of course, not everyone will receive a certificate this year, but we hope that we can motivate many others to strive for the goals we have set out for each and every one of you.