Award Toward Excellence Ceremony
Chicago (IL), le 31 mai 2012. Discours prononcé par le Consul général de France à l’occasion de la cérémonie "Award towards excellence" à l’Alliance Française de Chicago.
Chicago (IL), May 31, 2012. Speech given by the Consul General on the occasion of the Award towards Excellence Ceremony at the Alliance Française of Chicago.
Dear Mrs Saltoun,
Dear Mr Brizard,
Dear friends of the Alliance française,
It is a great pleasure and honor to be with you this evening and I am particularly glad that Mr Jean Claude Brizard, Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools, is with us today. The Educational Outreach Program is a unique initiative, and both partners, the Alliance Française and CPS, are rightly proud of its capacity to provide an exceptional opportunity for American students of Chicago Public Schools to be exposed to the French language and the French culture.
French-American relations are of course based on trade and cross investment, but perhaps even more importantly on our common history, robust democratic values and cultural heritage. The widespread interest and presence of French language and culture is vibrant in the U.S. France continues to attract and intrigue audiences as shown by the recent Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris” or the book “The Greater Journey” by American historian David McCullough. Half of the foreign movies presented in the US are Francophone, and 30% of books translated into English for Americans are of Francophone origin. French is the second most frequently taught world language in schools and universities in the U.S. Here in Chicago, we are very fortunate to have the second largest Alliance Française in the United States, a lycée français with 620 students from all over the world following a French curriculum from grades K-12, and the French-American school, an educational French program within the Abraham Lincoln elementary school and Lincoln Park High school.
The French-speaking population represents 220 million people residing on 5 continents world-wide. French is the national language of 36 countries in the world, second only to English. It is also the third most popular language used for internet communications. As demonstrated by the vitality of the Francophonie, French serves today as a vehicle of diversity, connecting millions of people from a broad range of cultural heritages. Last March, there was, for example, a very interesting program supported by the Alliance française de Chicago entitled « Haïti 2012 : Dreams and Reality” with the participation of Haitian writers (Yanick Lahens, Lyonel Trouillot and Louis-Philippe Dalembert), movie maker (Arnold Antonin) and art critics (Mireille Pérodin-Jérôme and Edouard Duval-Carrié).
I will not elaborate any further on all the good reasons why you should learn French, but I would like to stress the importance of speaking another language. First, in learning a foreign language you deepen your knowledge of your own language. Second, it is a tool for achieving excellence ; it is a way to positively differentiate yourself from others, to make a difference and to become a truly global citizen of the world. Lastly, it’s also fun to be able to communicate in another language.
I would like to congratulate the students receiving awards today. They are the future generation of ambassadors of the French language. The dynamic teachers and organizers of this innovative program are also deserving of thanks and congratulations. I would also like to especially commend the dedication and engagement of Mrs Francine Saltoun. And last but not least, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support to the Alliance Française and to this exceptional educational outreach program.