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Francophone Day: Cultivating Cultural Connections

March 9, 2009



High school students from across the state learn about French-speaking cultures, including dances, during UAlbany's Francophone Day.

High school students from across the state learn about French-speaking cultures, including dances, during UAlbany's Francophone Day.

For some UAlbany students, like sophomore Heather Hart, of Syracuse, learning about other languages and cultures is a necessity. They've committed their majors to it. They've committed part of their lives to it. At the University's Francophone Day, they will share their passion for it.

During Francophone Day, UAlbany students will take 80 high schoolers on a journey around the world -- without ever leaving New York. For the event, the high school students will be immersed into French-speaking cultures: the language, traditions, food and music. With the help of UAlbany students, they will embark on a scavenger hunt (chasse au trésor) across the campus and watch French comedic skits. They will also participate in a French dessert contest and a workshop on the traditional Québecois dance and music, sponsored by Homespun Occasions.

All the while, the students will be speaking French.

"It's a great way for students to expand their view of different languages and cultures and understand why it's so important for U.S. students to learn about them," said Hart.  "There are many other fascinating places and people, and this event helps open the door to the world."

Francophone Day -- slated for March 16 -- is offered through the University in the High School Program (UHS), which provides students with the academic challenges of college-level curriculum during their junior and senior years. The event is hosted by faculty and students in UAlbany's French Studies Program in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures with support from UHS.

High schools students learn about literature of French-speaking cultures, including children's books like Babar.

High school students learn about the literature of different French-speaking cultures, including children's books like Babar.

"It gives high school students an opportunity to broaden their horizons and explore French cultures and languages outside of the classroom," said Veronique Martin, UAlbany's UHS French liaison. "At the same time, it's a wonderful chance for them to discover our campus and meet our faculty and students."

The activities will help give the students a deeper understanding of the languages and cultures they learn in school. It also allows them to learn language in a contextualized manner, instead of the typical classroom grammar exercises.

Mainly or partially francophone (or French-speaking) countries include France, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Haiti, Lebanon, the French West Indies, Tahiti, as well as several countries in Africa.

UAlbany's Francophone Day compliments the University's Living Learning Communities, which are opportunities for upperclassmen who are interested in a given topic or theme to take certain courses and live together in a campus residence hall. One such community is the Francophone House, located in Dutch Quad, where students speak and practice the French language. Students also explore France and other areas in the world where the French language is spoken and learn more about French culture through song, games, theatre, meals, and guest lectures.

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