In his personal quest for promoting bilingualism for his children, De Voldère has become one of the key players in the Bilingual Revolution, inspiring a new generation of Francophones through his work. As an educator, mentor, and, as he mentioned in his speech, as a ‘convertor of souls’ to the Revolution, Virgil is at the racine of this grassroots initiative.
In fact, he began just as the Revolution was taking form, inspired by his wife, Susan Long, who attended a meeting at P.S. 84 in 2007. Following the meeting, Long was motivated by the potential for a French dual language program, alongside the existing Spanish one. Together with her husband, and the support of principal, Robin Sundick, (also a fellow Ordre de Palmes chevalier), the books were collected, the teachers and the funding were gathered, and six months later, the first French dual language program in Manhattan was brought to life.
Since then, Virgil has founded two bilingual La Pétite Ecole preschools in New York City and is looking to open one more. The De Voldère family has two children who are currently the embodiment of their parents’ dreams at P.S. 84.
Virgil, who hauls from three generations of gallerists, repurposed his life as a contemporary art expert to promote another form of expression: “language is an art; it’s a vector for expression, and children make those connections in their brains right now. Early education and language immersion are the key to tolerance”.
There seems to be a sense of urgency when it comes to bilingual education. By 2050, over 750 million people will speak French in the world, and according to Ambassador Delattre, there is huge potential for growth. But it needs more supporters, more 'Virgils'.
"C’est tellement rempli", it’s really packed, I overheard someone from the crowd say at the honoring on Thursday, which is representative of the rampant support that De Voldère and other pioneers of the Revolution have amassed. In fact, as he stated in his speech, “there is no revolution without the people! The Revolution continues because there are many more battles to win, more Bastille prisons to conquer."
The ceremony, which ended joyously in dinner and dance with an all-female mariachi band, Flor de Toloache, was yet another triumph for this evolving Revolution.