A ‘petit morceau de France’ ported at the New York harbor in June, not only to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, but also to altruistically transport over 4,000 books that Adiflor, AMOPA (Association des Membres de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques), and Marine Partage, provided for the New York City public schools.
On June 6, 2014, the French marine united with the US navy at the foot of the Statue of Liberty to join in solidarity for the 70 years that marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War. The soldiers participated in collaborative naval exercises, in order to enhance the mutual understanding of their respective operations. Communicating in English, these exercises included fueling one another’s ships while sailing 50 meters from one another for three hours.
This collaboration is at the heel of the French-American bond, which permeates through everything from military cooperation to education.
The frigate, La Fayette, was literally the vehicle for bilingual exchange, solidifying the longstanding Franco-American educative initiatives. According to the French Cultural Counselor, Antonin Baudry, this relationship will be extended through our children’s language exchange, appropriately quoting the French author, Émile Zola, "it's by literature, not by the sword, that mankind will overcome falsehood and injustice and attain to the final peace of fraternity among the nations”
La Fayette is contributing to yet another revolution – the Bilingual Revolution that began in 2007 with 24 children enrolled in French-English bilingual instruction in a New York City school. Pioneered by the dedicated Attaché of Education, Fabrice Jaumont, 7 years later, there are over 1000 children ‘on board’ the program.
The books donated will also serve the French Heritage Language Program, which seeks to cater to the needs of new francophone immigrants in public schools across the City. Coordinated by Benoît Le Dévédec, the program has served over 3000 children in the U.S. – assisting them in the acquisition of the English language, as well as in the preservation of their French. This is done through robust after-school programs, French classes, and an annual trip to Quebec.
It is still not enough – during the reception to receive the books, there were over 50 lucky children prancing around the deck of the La Fayette; they represent a small fraction of the over 20,000 francophone children in New York City who should have the opportunity of being a part of the bilingual revolution. Since 2007, 10 schools have opened a French dual language program from Brooklyn to Harlem, and 10 high schools are hosting the French Heritage Language Program; however, it’s going to take many more schools and many more books to truly drive the vehicle to shore.
To join the revolution and to learn about these programs, please visit www.facecouncil.org