French President Macron at the GC to Launch Dual Language Fund

French President Emmanuel Macron
President Macron spoke about the value of bilingualism at the launch of the French Dual Language Fund at the Graduate Center.

The Graduate Center’s commitment to multilingualism and diversity was on full display on September 20 when it co-hosted, with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, an event at which President Emmanuel Macron of the Republic of France announced the establishment of the French Dual Language Fund.

President Macron spoke in the Graduate Center’s packed Proshansky Auditorium about the importance of bilingual education, expressing his hope that children in New York and everywhere in the United States learn “both the language of Shakespeare and the language of Molière.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and GC President Chase F. Robinson
President Robinson shares a laugh with President Macron.

CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William C. Thompson Jr.

CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William C. Thompson Jr.

Graduate Center President Chase F. Robinson and City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees Chairperson William C. Thompson Jr. also addressed the crowd and spoke about CUNY’s diversity — with students hailing from more than 200 countries — and its strengths in bilingual education and scholarship.

Robinson gave a shout-out to the Graduate Center’s programs in Latin Ameican, Iberian, and Latino Cultures, and Urban Education. He also made special note of his “esteemed colleague,” Professor Ofelia García (Urban Education and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages), a prominent scholar of bilingualism and bilingual education.

“At the Graduate Center and throughout all of The City University of New York, we are committed to advancing research, policy, and practices in bilingual education, and to multilingualism and diversity of all kinds,” García wrote for remarks she planned to deliver at the event. Due to time constraints, she was unable to speak, but her speech is available online.

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French President Emmanuel Macron with children after the performance
President Macron with students from The Boerum Hill School for International Studies following their performance of Alertez!/Alert!

Interspersed among the remarks were performances by students from two New York City public schools that offer bilingual French-English programs. Students from The Boerum Hill School for International Studies performed Alertez!/Alert!, a short play about child refugees. The event closed with the singing of the French and U.S. national anthems by students from The Carroll School — P.S. 58.

The French Embassy created the French Dual Language Fund with a number of partners to address the increased demand for dual language education in public schools, where funds for such programs are often limited. The fund will support teacher training and retention, access to French teaching resources, and the presence of native speakers in classrooms, as well as the expansion of new programs in public schools across the U.S. 

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The event drew broad interest from members of the Graduate School community as well as the international community. Many of the attendees were guests of the French Embassy.

To accommodate the large demand, the Graduate Center and the French Embassy arranged for two simulcasts at the Graduate Center and a livestream that could be watched from any computer. The livestream broadcast on Facebook Live has drawn over 5,000 views.

Graduate Center alumna Patricia Leboeuf (M.Phil., Educational Psychology), a teacher in the French dual-language program at Manhattan’s Lafayette Academy — M.S. 256, came to the event with 26 students, a fellow teacher, and the school’s principal. “I was proud to realize that my students were laughing at the right moments in the speech,” she said. “I also really appreciated how President Macron, who is establishing a very generous fund with the support of our fellow New Yorkers, successfully communicated the importance of grand humanistic ideas.”

Watch a video of the event (with President Macron’s speech translated into English).

View the event photo galleries

Submitted on: SEP 29, 2017

Category: French | General GC News | Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures | President's Office | Urban Education