My (almost) French Life

The Highlights of the Inauguration of the French Dual Language Fund

I had the honor of attending the Inauguration of the French Dual Language Fund last week. If you’re wondering what the FDLF is, click here to read all about it. 

What I wanted to share in this post is what I felt to be in a room in which virtually everyone there and I had something in common: the commitment to raise bilingual (or multilingual) children that would be proud of their heritage. 

I always get choked up when I attend events like these. (Read about the highlight of my son’s first year in a dual language program here). 




First, I’m extremely proud that we as a city, are elevating bilingual education by embracing bilingualism and opening more and more dual language programs into NYC’s public schools. It is in great part to the city’s commitment and thanks to commitment of other entities such as the French government that we are able to provide more bilingual education for more students. 
Second, I was moved and inspired by the future generations. The play performed by BHSIS (Boerum Hill School of International Studies) was a powerful piece about refugees. The students were able to move the audience on a difficult subject, and it made me think about the state of our world today…. “don’t tell us you want peace through violence.” 
The children’s play was amazing. The students spoke poignantly about a topic that we often don’t think about- refugees dying in the Mediterranean. They called out the adults: political leaders, among others, to realize there was an issue, and called out what is happening with refugees in the world. 
You know what they say about young children? They always tell the truth.
Third, Emmanuel Macron. Truthfully I never thought I’d be able to day “I was in the same room as the President” because it isn’t one of those things I think about often. But there I was in a room with the president of a country that has given me so much, and for whom I have much love. 
Photo credit: Joe Laronga, CUNY Graduate Center 
President Macron spoke about the importance of this cultural exchange, of bilingualism as a way to cosmopolitanism. 
He spoke of Molière and Shakespeare, and the advantages of the children who will grow up knowing both. We are more open to understanding someone if we speak their language. 
A certains moments où d’aucuns voudraient nous éloigner, où parfois des phrases abruptes ou des postures donneraient le sentiment qu’en tout cas la France et les Etats-Unis pourraient s’éloigner, ce sont ces petits ponts humains qui nous sauvent.
President Macron made a slight reference to the fact that perhaps, France and the United States will “s’eloigner.” (drift apart).  We all know what he’s talking about. With the UN General Assembly speeches fresh in our minds, there are clear differences in the “leader” of the USA and the leader of France (yes, I’m using these quotation marks on purpose). He referenced these “pont humains” human bridges, that could save us. These human bridges being these bilingual children who are growing up to appreciate the multicultural world (my words, not his!)

Je ne sais pas ce que réserveront les prochaines décennies. Mais je sais juste une chose : plus il y aura d’élèves en France qui auront appris à parler l’Anglais et qui sauront échanger avec un Américain, plus il y aura d’élèves américains qui sauront parler le Français, qui auront été émus par une œuvre française, qui auront aimé un acteur, une actrice française, un chanteur, une chanteuse française pour ses chansons, qui auront partagé un peu de nos univers culturels, nos imaginaires, ceux-là pourront nous sauver du pire. Parce que dans les moments les plus graves, dans ces moments où on peut tout oublier, ou tout peut basculer, ils se souviendront de ces petits détails qui font la vie.French Dual Language

Photo credit: André Beckles, CUNY

“I don’t know what the coming decades hold. But I do know one thing: if there are more students in France that will have learned to speak English and that will now be able to have an exchange with an American, if there are more American students that will know how to speak French, that will be moved by a French work [of art, theater ], that will love a French actor or actress, or a French singer or French songs, that will have shared a bit of our culture, that can be able to save us from the worst. Because in the worst moments, in the moments where we can forget everything, where everything can tumble, they will remember these small details that are what life is about.” 

You can read the entirety of Macron’s speech here. 

The Inauguration of the French Dual Language Fund = lots of feelings. 

Truthfully, the event made me a bit sad. because a French dual language program in Queens was a dream I hoped to make a reality. It wasn’t for lack of trying, and I’m not going to lie, I still have a glimmer of hope that Queens will get what it deserves. 
When I saw the children on the stage preparing to sing both national anthems I realized that my son missed out on this opportunity. For that, I’m sad. I want him to know La Marseillaise and to sing it proudly. For me, it isn’t only about learning the language – a dual language program also allows children to know anther culture and be proud of that. You fear not what you know. 

Click here to support the French Dual Language Fund. 

Sad, but super proud. At the end of the program, my heart was full of pride, because of the program, because of the success of bilingual education in our city, especially at a time like this, where bigotry and xenophobia and attempting to win. I was proud because I felt that being in that room was a testament to my dedication as a mother raising a multilingual child and as an advocate of bilingual education. After all, it was because of this that I had been invited to be a part of this special moment.

The biggest highlight. In my mind, I had a question prepared in case there was a Q&A portion of the session. I was going to ask President Macron if he would be supporting bilingualism in France with other languages, meaning, if Spanish, German, or Arabic for example, would be taught in schools as well. I didn’t get chance to ask because there was no Q&A. (I am just putting it out there into the universe so that maybe one day I get to ask him). 

At the end of the program, on our way out, I saw him. I did get a chance to speak to him, and of course, the question I had so diligently prepared went out the window; instead I said, “President Macron, can we take a selfie? ” and he said “OK!” 

You can read more about the French Dual Language Fund here. 

Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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