National French Week celebrates widespread francophone culture

The department of languages and literatures and the Geneseo French Club, Le Cercle Français hosted La Semaine Nationale du Français, or National French Week from Nov. 8-14. Promoted by the American Association of Teachers of French, National French Week is an annual celebration of francophone culture and language across the country.

President of the Geneseo French Club, senior Katie Comando, said, “French Week is about celebrating francophone culture on campus … It’s just an interesting way that we try to promote the French department and get involved in other activities.”

The Geneseo French Club boasts 30 members who participate in speaking nights, game nights, dinners and other cultural events on campus.

“You don’t have to speak French or be a French major to find francophone culture interesting,” Comando said.

According to Comando, hosting National French Week events is the club’s effort to get more people on campus involved in the celebration of the French language and educate them on the importance of francophone culture, especially outside of France.

“We really try to emphasize that our club is not just France,” Comando said. “For instance, at our culture nights, we’ve had speakers from Quebec [City], Senegal and the [Republic of] Congo.”

The week started off with the third annual French Spelling Bee on Nov. 8. Students provided music, including senior Sally Schaefer who played violin and showcased traditional Quebec foot stomping.

“I think the spelling bee is a really special event,” Comando said.

On Nov. 9, the group took a trip to Simply Crêpes in Pittsford, N.Y. Faculty and exchange students attended the event along with Geneseo students and alumni.

Junior Lauren Slezak, treasurer of the French Club, said, “I really enjoyed going out to dinner … I like being able to unwind with the students and faculty of the department.”

Comando, who also went on the trip, added, “It was wonderful. The restaurant is American style but really delicious. We had a few students from France with us, and they said they enjoyed it as well. So you know if you get the expert advice it must be good.”

On Nov. 12, French Club showed a French film in Newton 203 titled Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, or Welcome to the Sticks. The French comedy focused on small-town living, and featured English subtitles for those who didn’t speak French.

Nov. 13 was the French and Francophone Cultural Evening, with presentations on various regions of the French-speaking world. Presenters shared information on Quebec, Belgium, Senegal, Montpellier and an assortment of other lesser-known French regions. “The point of the cultural evening was to give an introduction to many of the programs offered at SUNY Geneseo and demonstrate the importance of francophone cultures,” Slezak said. Nov. 14 concluded National French Week with French Game Night. Attendees played various board games in French and the club served light refreshments.