Say Oui ! : Interview avec Elaine Guillot

April 13, 2016 | By FRENCH CULTURE NEW ORLEANS

Your graduate research project is aimed at reinvigorating French education in North Louisiana. Is this an accurate statement? How would you summarize your project?

Say Oui is a visual campaign at the heart of Lincoln Parish.

The goal is to recognize the richness brought by learning a foreign language, in particular French.

Unfortunately, there are no longer any classes in French nor any other foreign language in Lincoln Parish for K-8 students in public schools.

Tell us about your background with French education. Why is this an important issue to you, personally?

Learning French is very important in my eyes.

As a child, I had the opportunity to learn French thanks to CODOFIL, when the public schools of Louisiana had French teachers in my region through this program.

By learning French at such a young age, I developed an ear. I had amazing teachers: Anita Greenwood and Dr. Dolliann Hurtig, who helped to deepen my knowledge.

I love to speak French and I am proud of my heritage, which I also consider French. This encouraged me to become a candidate for the CODOFIL scholarships. I won two, and studied in Paris and La Baule. I have unforgettable experiences!

After finishing my degree, I taught high school French before returning to pursue a Masters in graphic design. I knew that I wanted something related to the promotion of French for my thesis. When I discovered that there were no longer any French classes here, that became certain.

My wish is for students to have access to the same opportunities as those I had: foreign language instruction open to the world.

Your project is using a variety of innovative marketing techniques to attract attention in your town. How are you thinking outside the box to bring awareness to this issue?

I read a lot of books on marketing and psychology, but what I found most useful for engaging the community was to reflect on ways which make the information fun and accessible.

I love the idea of introducing new information in an unexpected way and in unexpected places. For example, we don’t expect the learn French vocabulary at the supermarket, but why not?

It’s important to push people outside their routines to bring awareness.

What are your long-term goals for this project? What do you hope comes from the conversation you’re hoping to spark?

Firstly, I wish that this campaign inspires my community to fight to re-establish French in the public schools in Lincoln Parish.

I would be content if I succeed in creating discussion around the importance of learning French for the future of our children, our community and our state, in order to maintain the unique heritage of our history.

My great dream is that Say Oui expands to all of North Louisiana and that everyone can learn French in this region.

How can organizations and passionate members of the French community get involved?

At this stage, time, support and engagement are the most important resources for the campaign.

Si you are interested in speaking with children, parents, schools, or if you wish to help with social events, contact me at oui.louisiana@gmail.com. You can also visit the new website: http://www.sayoui.org/

About Elaine Guillot

Elaine was born in New Orleans and grew up in the piney hills of North Louisiana. 
After traveling abroad and teaching high school French, she decided to pursue her 
MFA in Graphic Design at Louisiana Tech University. Upon graduation in May, she
is wants to continue the fight for French and liberal arts education in Louisiana.
In her free-time, Elaine enjoys rock climbing and exploring with her Australian
Shepherd, Falcor.

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