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French Around the World Festival brings learning ‘full circle,’ extends understanding beyond Archer

Holding+a+poster+about+the+French+region+Corse%2C+Marin+Hennegan+%2829%29+presents+to+Lila+Berg+%2829%29+during+the+French+Around+the+World+Festival+Friday%2C+March+15%2C+in+the+courtyard.+The+event+aimed+to+celebrate+French+students+learning+and+engage+the+community+in+French+language+and+culture.+
Photo credit: Audrey Chang
Holding a poster about the French region Corse, Marin Hennegan (’29) presents to Lila Berg (’29) during the French Around the World Festival Friday, March 15, in the courtyard. The event aimed to celebrate French students’ learning and engage the community in French language and culture.

Spoken across five continents, French connects people from all around the world. International Francophone Day, which will take place March 20, celebrates this influence and the language’s values.  

In alignment with the international celebration, Archer’s French department and students hosted the second annual French Around the World Festival in the courtyard Friday, March 15. The festival highlighted French students’ learning and educated the community on French language and culture through informational booths and performances.

The celebration began with a poetry recitation, followed by choir performances, an intergrade dance and a prose recitation. All French students sang “La Ballade des Gens Heureux,” which translates to “The Ballad of Happy People,” together to conclude the event. Throughout the festival, French students in grades seven through 12 presented topics spanning fashion designers and painters, the Paris Olympics, French and francophone cuisine and the Archer Abroad trip to France and Belgium.

World language teacher Natalie Kang teaches sixth and seventh grade French, and her seventh grade class focused on French regions. She said the festival helps students reflect on the broader significance of their learning.

“It’s a moment to pause and celebrate the effort that we have made and students have made to learn a new language, learn a new culture and to show off those skills,” Kang said. “It’s a piece of the world that you only get to access if you also speak the language, so a sense of pride, I would say, in building the skills and a sense of purpose: Why are we learning French? Not just to learn one language but to have access to all of these other French-speaking places in the world.” 

Along with other Advanced Study French Language and Culture students, Piper Porter (’24) recited a passage from “Alexis d’Haïti,” a book by Agnant Marie-Celie, during the festival. She said she appreciated the community’s support and recognition of French students’ dedication to learning the language.

“I think it’s important to show just how much we learn in the classroom when we’re outside of the classroom, especially in languages, because I think an important part of Archer’s curriculum is that we learn languages from middle school all the way through high school,” Porter said. “It felt very full circle to me, having learned French for all these years and to finally feel like I’m at a level where I can speak and not feel crazy, crazy nervous and know that I can do well.”

Aligned with the international celebration of March as Francophonie Month, world language teacher Laurence Clerfeuille said a main component of the festival is helping French students understand how their learning extends beyond their class, Archer and even the U.S.

“It’s not just us celebrating Francophonie — it’s celebrated in all different countries of the world,” Clerfeuille said. “It’s really thinking about why you’re studying French … what can you do with it, what is the potential, what does it really mean? It means more than learning conjugations, right? It means being able to speak, connect with different people — connect with their different cultures.” 

Kang said she appreciates how all of the French students and teachers came together to plan and host the festival. 

“It’s rare that we get to do something all together, so that’s a really beautiful experience,” Kang said. “And students that I’ve taught in the past that I don’t teach anymore, it’s a moment for us to interact around what they’re currently learning in French as they build their language skills, so I think that’s kind of a beautiful full-circle moment.” 

With both French-speaking and non-French-speaking community members attending the event, Clerfeuille acknowledged the different purposes of the festival for different audiences and how promoting cultural understanding is essential for everyone. 

“Even if it’s just for 45 minutes, it is important. In 45 minutes, you can make a statement right? You can say, ‘I care. I get where you’re coming from. It’s interesting. Tell me about it,'” Clerfeuille said. “It’s a very positive message that you send to people whenever you’re attending a cultural festival like that, whether it’s a language or a culture you’re familiar with or something where you’re just agreeing to be open minded, and say, ‘I don’t know anything about it, but I’m willing to ask a question and find out by myself, since the opportunity is right here.'” 

According to usa.gov, people in the U.S. communicate in more than 350 languages. In light of this linguistic diversity, Porter highlighted the importance of celebrating a wide range of languages and cultures at Archer to expand students’ perspectives.

“I also think that in Los Angeles, we can sometimes get into a bubble of our own neighborhood, even though the city is really diverse, and we have so many different languages, and we live in a country where people speak so many different languages,” Porter said. “Being able to have a festival that was dedicated to a whole language and culture and all the cultures that fall within the French or Francophone identity … It was nice to see different this type of perspective shown on campus.”

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About the Contributor
Audrey Chang, Editor-in-Chief
Audrey Chang joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2021 and became the News Editor in 2022. In 2023, she became the Editor-in-Chief. She plays on the Archer varsity tennis team, is a member of the Ambassador Leadership Team Advisory Board and runs the For Goodness Cakes Club. In her free time, you can find her baking, surfing and playing with her four dogs.

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