Colorfully decorated t-shirts and bright posters lined the language wing of the S-Hall. Detailed model houses with miniature furniture showcased the south alcove. What might have seemed like a small craft fair was actually a celebration of the French language; the tiny furniture was labeled with French translations, and the shirts all displayed the words “Tout Va Bien Avec le Français,” which means “All Goes Well with French.” This was the theme for this year’s Semaine Nationale du Français (National French Week), which took place from Nov. 3-11.
La Semaine Nationale du Français has been celebrated at Mercy for six years and continues to be a dynamic week, connecting students of Mercy’s language classes to French culture.
The cafeteria offered a special menu during the week with authentic French dishes for everyone to enjoy. Students and staff had the chance to purchase quiche, French Canadian meat pies and poutine, Cajun chicken wraps, coconut curry chicken with rice (a popular dish from French-speaking Guadalupe in the Caribbean), and Monte Cristo sandwiches.
Dr. Daniel Noren, a professor at Ferris State University, gave a presentation to all French classes on Quebec and Montreal.
“On every continent, in the United Nations, of course Canada, the French Caribbean, anywhere you want to travel, French is hugely important, so we want to promote it with National French Week,” Dr. Noren said.
“Even if you don’t speak the French language, you can still appreciate the French culture,” he said.
However, Dr. Noren also stressed the value of French “outside the borders of Metropolitan France,” wanting to address the wide use of French in Africa and the Caribbean, not just a single country in Europe.
Mr. Seth High, the chef of Antietam, a French bistro in Detroit, spoke to students about the development of modern French cuisine, the history of French cuisine in the United States, and the importance of French culture in his occupation.
“When you start paying attention to cooking, you will invariably come to French cuisine,” Mr. High said. “It’s vitally important and has suffused the entirety of our profession.”
The afternoon French classes learned about Paris’s history and its famous landmarks and museums from Mrs. Margaret Delevie, who grew up speaking Dutch in the Netherlands and is now a fluent French speaker. Classes also used Skype to call a 2010 Mercy graduate, Kiara McCalvin. She currently lives in England, is fluent in French, and is beginning a job in Paris in January.
“National French Week is one of the highlights of the French program at Mercy and what makes the French program so special compared to other schools,” said sophomore Katharine Bullock.
French teacher Madame Joyce Campbell began Mercy’s French Week tradition the first year that the American Association of Teachers of French created National French Week to honor the scope of French’s impact on the world and unite French speakers in America.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity, and it’s really out of the textbook, really a living experience for students to have in the classroom,” Madame Campbell said. “The students love [National French Week]. They love being immersed in the culture, and the connection with the community.”