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Languages of New York City

8802162295?profile=RESIZE_930x French is an important language of New York City, and it's not the only one. With speakers of approximately 10 percent of the world’s 6000-7000 languages, the New York metropolitan area is the most linguistically diverse urban center in the world, probably in the history of the world. From a thriving Algonquian language in pre-contact times, Lenape today is down to its last native speakers, but there are efforts to revitalize it, despite the sea of surrounding non-Indigenous languages with their own complex histories. Beginning in the colonial period, local languages were overrun by European languages, and by the early 20th century, New York had become a quintessential product of large-scale pan-European immigration.

Now, in the 21st century, New York City is hyperdiverse, with arrivals from areas of deep linguistic diversity across the globe, from the Himalaya to West Africa to the Indigenous zones of Mexico and Central America. Among its residents the city can count speakers of languages found virtually nowhere else, but the pressure to switch to rising world languages — like English, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, and Hindi — is intense.

Since 2010, the Endangered Language Alliance, motivated by worldwide language endangerment, has worked with speakers of over 100 distinct endangered and minority languages, including Lenape, an Indigenous language whose traditional territories include what is now New York City.

This mapincludes nearly 700 languages and dialects confirmed to nearly 1200 significant sites, including neighborhoods, community institutions, restaurants, and other locations where there is, or was, at least one speaker. In terms of geographic diversity, approximately 38% of the languages shown are from Asia, 24% from Africa, 19% from Europe, 16% from the Americas, and the rest from Oceania and the Pacific.

This map comes out of the project Mapping Linguistic Diversity in a Globalizing World through Open Source Digital Tools, a new collaborative partnership between the University of British Columbia and the Endangered Language Alliance. Core support comes from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Wall Solutions Initiative.

You can visit this remarkable resource here:https://languagemap.nyc

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[Upcoming Book Talk] Imagine an America where kids have even more chance for success, thanks to their experiences in dual language and community-based heritage language schools. Where businesses gain an edge globally because they can literally speak their customers’ language. Where lifelong learners can become more than tourists in other countries and finely hone their brainpower. More than just imagining such a country, Steve Leveen has discovered that this is the America we are becoming. Join us on May 6 for a lively discussion with Steve Leveen and Fabrice Jaumont.
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Join us this Saturday, March 20 at 7pm EST, for a free virtual screening of On Va Continuer! A "rockumentary" following Grammy Award-winning band Lost Bayou Ramblers as they preserve Cajun culture and the French language in Louisiana through their music. Be ready to dance! 

The film will be preceded by short film 17 Year Locust by Logan LeBlanc and followed by a discussion with filmmakers.

This event is presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, #CreateLouisiana and TV5 Monde as part of the D.C. Francophonie Cultural Festival. Films will be available with English subtitles.

Please make sure to create an account on Maison Francaise virtual cinema here and claim your ticket before the screening begins this Saturday at 7pm EST. You'll find more information about the event here.
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February 21 was International Mother Language Day, the month of February is also Black History Month in the US and March is the month of the Francophonie. Most of our students are at the center of all of these celebrations: they are multilingual, they are black and they are the “Francophonie”, this truly diverse plurilingual and pluricultural space where French cohabits with other languages.

 Every year, more and more people around the world join these celebrations and while they are symbolic, they bring into focus the intersection of race, language and culture. I also hope they reflect and prelude a deep and positive shift from a world where there are dominant cultures and marginalized ones, a world where differences are considered a threat, a world in which schooling equals remediation and assimilation, to a world where all cultures are valued equally, a world where differences are assets, a world in which schools acknowledge, value and leverage the wealth of knowledge that every student bring into the classroom.

This shift is needed and necessary especially in schools where we don’t only teach subjects, we also shape and mold the mind of future generations. Around the world today, but especially in big cities, classrooms are global, diverse, multiethnic and multilingual. The most obvious case is New York City, where 43% of the students in the public schools speak another language than English [1].

Our students, especially the ones who recently arrived in this country, are not only learning a new language but they are also navigating new cultural norms but also a new identity, in a socio-economic context which racialize them as Black. Like me, when they left their native country, there were sons and daughters, from a family and a specific village, from an ethnic group with a common language, traditions and values that they carry proudly with them, and all of that defined who they are.

On their way to the “American dream”, these students find themselves in monolingual classrooms where, all of a sudden, their complex and rich identities are too often reduced to being “Black “and “English Learners”.  Unfortunately, none of the boxes they check on the many forms (US entry, schools and colleges, etc..) they must fill out, give them the space to express what they really are: multilingual, from a culture, from countries with a rich history and rich traditions.

Equity, inclusion, access to a high quality education for all, a “Culturally Responsive Education[2]”  seem to be the buzz words these days. The ambition is to see and teach the students in front of us, to meet them where they are, to affirm them, to see their diversity as an asset and not a deficit. In order to meet those goals, we must take our students out of the “black” and “English learners” boxes and allow them to use French as an asset through heritage programs or even better, bilingual programs.

 The French language does not belong to France anymore but to the 300 million people who speak it around the world,  (the majority of them soon to be in Africa[3]); among them, our students who form, within their schools, a community, in ways that would not be possible if they were all speaking in their maternal languages. It is often, in French, that our students, from Mali, Senegal, Togo or Ivory Coast find each other and connect in their American schools.

They can access the growing and diverse artistic and literary body of work created, not only by french people but also by French speaking people around the world. Many cultures and languages live within that space called "Francophonie" and this true diversity allows the cohabitation of different views of the world.

Through the French language, students also break racial and socio-economic barriers every day when they meet in bilingual classrooms; when students from a private school in Brittany (France) visit our students in the Bronx and discover their common humanity by sharing and comparing their lives; when our students connect and exchange with students from Lafayette College, getting access to a world their circumstances put out of reach and in return, giving them access to their world while breaking stereotypes.

The benefits of a bilingual education and the maintenance of heritage languages have been proven by researchers and scientists around the world but also by data. If we stop seeing French as the language of the colonizer, the language reserved to a certain elite or the language of France; if we, instead, start seeing it as the language that will propel these students in a globalized future where more than 470 million people will speak it too[4] ( 70% of them will be under 29), a future in which monolingualism means illiteracy, then, giving these students the education they deserve means giving them a bilingual education.

Agnès Ndiaye Tounkara

Program Officer of the French Heritage Language Program


[1] 2018-2019 English Language Learners Demographic Report (NYC Department of Education): https://infohub.nyced.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/ell-demographic-report.pdf

[2] Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework http://www.nysed.gov/crs/framework

[3] OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie): https://www.francophonie.org/node/305

[4] ODSEF (Observatoire Démocratique et Statistique de l’Espace Francophone): https://www.odsef.fss.ulaval.ca/

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Le document ci-joint est proposé en français par le département de l'éducation (DOE) de la ville de New York. Il est téléchargeable au format PDF avec ce lien: MS Admissions - Fall 2021 Family Presentation_Francais.pdf

Voici la lettre de présentation du DOE:

Bienvenue dans les admissions au collège

Nous savons que cette année a été pleine de changements et nous apprécions la patience et la souplesse des familles comme la vôtre dans toute la ville.
Comme annoncé par le maire et le Chancelier, les collèges du DOE utiliseront une méthode d'admission ouverte cette année:
•Cela signifie que les programmes n’utiliseront pas la sélection ou les dossiers scolaires, les auditions des candidats ou d’autres évaluations pour évaluer ou admettre les élèves.
•Si une école compte plus de candidats que de places disponibles, les offres seront faites en utilisant les groupes prioritaires (le cas échéant) et une sélection aléatoire (une loterie).
•Les autres parties de la procédure d’admission, comme les priorités de secteur, resteront les mêmes.

Cette présentation vous expliquera les procédures d’admission, y compris ces mises à jour.

Comment demander une place dans les collèges de NYC?

Le meilleur moyen est de le faire en ligne sur MySchools.nyc.
•Créez un compte en utilisant votre adresse e-mail personnelle.
•Pour ajouter un élève sur votre compte, vous aurez besoin de ce qui suit:
•N°d'identifiant de l'élève (OSIS)
•Code de création de compte
•Les codes de création de compte ont été envoyés mi-décembre par courrier au domicile de tous les élèves des écoles publiques. Si vous avez encore besoin de votre code:
•Les élèves des écoles publiques peuvent contacter leur école primaire actuelle
•Les élèves des écoles privées ou confessionnelles peuvent contacter un Centre d’accueil pour les familles.

 Lorsque vous accéderez à votre demande personnalisée, vous verrez la liste des programmes où votre enfant peut demander une place.Cela peut inclure ce qui suit:

Votre école de secteur
Découvrez si vous avez un collège de secteur sur Schoolsearch.schools.nycou en composant le311.
Les élèves de secteur sont prioritaires pour fréquenter leur école de secteur. Cela ne change pas à cause du COVID-19.

Programmes de district
Ouvert à tous les élèves qui sont du secteur ou fréquentent l’école du district.
Si votre enfant dépend du secteur d’un district et fréquente l’école dans un autre district, il peut demander une place dans les écoles des deux districts.

Programmes desservant tout le borough

Programmes desservant toute la ville


Comment demander une place dans les collèges de NYC?


oListez jusqu’à 12choix sur votre demande par ordre de préférence, en classant au rang numéro1 le programme qui vous intéresse le plus.

oCertaines écoles peuvent avoir plusieurs programmes, comme un programme général et un programme double langue. Si une école a plusieurs programmes, vous pouvez demander une place dans plusieurs programmes.

oSoumettez votre demande sur MySchoolsau plus tard le mardi9février. Après avoir soumis votre demande, vous pourrez toujours vous connecter et faire des changements jusqu’à la date limite.

oVous pouvez aussi contacter votre école primaire actuelle qui peut soumettre une demande d’admission en votre nom.


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Following today's New York Post report: NYC families say DOE dropped French dual-language program at last minute  I wanted to express my full support to the parent-led effort that has involved hundreds of diverse families and dozens of nationalities united to create a new French dual-language program in Manhattan.

Dual-language education has enormous potential. Why? Because our children are part of a world that is shrinking and in which languages serve as pathways to understanding others around the globe, as well as understanding who we are.

Our children deserve the opportunity to connect not only with their relatives and friends, but also with their and others’ culture and history. This learning approach has the potential to foster respect, tolerance, and mutual understanding. These are the cornerstones of a peaceful world.

We need to embrace and advance homegrown bilingualism, but that can only happen if we offer these languages in public schools. Furthermore, immigrant children raised in environments that value the language of their parents learn the dominant language faster, as many of the French-speaking parents supporting the cause of dual-language education believe.

Issues of race, poverty, segregation, class, and gentrification have had and continue to have a significant bearing on the development of bilingual education programs and on public education in this country. We must be careful that these programs do not become exclusively for the privileged.

With the benefits of bilingualism and multiculturalism becoming clearer to researchers—in particular the impact of bilingualism on cognitive enhancement, critical thinking, and sensitivity toward other people and cultures—we need to engage all parents to become bilingual “revolutionaries” and fully support their undertakings when they strive to create dual-language education for all.

These individuals will not just be advocates of bilingual education, but true pioneers willing to spur positive change in their societies and re-enchant the public with public schools, all while promoting an active community life (socially, economically, culturally) and a mutual understanding and respect for minority groups and people of varying sociolinguistic and economic backgrounds.

This is the path to break the crippling cycle whereby access to good education is often linked to household income and status.

Dr. Fabrice Jaumont
Author, Educator, Researcher

Related Links:

Ribbon Cut for New French Dual Language Program in NYC

Push to open a French/English Dual Language Program Kindergarten in the Upper East Side in September 2021

Opening of the First French Dual Language Program in the Upper East Side: Meet Aneesha Jacko, Director of Early Childhood Education for the District 2 Pre-K Centers. By Catherine Remy

French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten to Launch on the Upper East Side Response to Demand from Parents and Council Member Ben Kallos



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Online spelling bee competition for classes from 6th to 10th grade

Get ready to spell! Presented by the Fondation Voltaire, the Dicos d'Or Campus is an online spelling bee that will engage your students in competition while helping them to memorize the spelling, grammar and meaning of French words. Create teams of 7 students in the same grade (multiple teams are allowed from each school), train using the Fondation Voltaire's online platform and compete against other teams worldwide until the grand finale in May.

Signups for the Dicos d'Or Campus are completely free and close on January 3. Create your team today!

Click here to learn more about the Dicos d'Or Campus and sign up for your students.


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French-language podcast competition for students: Une fois, une voix

Inspired by "Les pieds sur terre" by France Culture and "This American Life", "Une fois, une voix" is a contest to create a documentary podcast, open to Francophone adolescents across the world. Students--alone or in groups--are encouraged to inspect their own world with both a personal and sociological eye, with this year's theme of "Le travail des femmes".

We encourage you to participate in the online training "Realiser un podcast en cours de FLE" with Eric Schweitzer (information above) to equip yourself and your students with the tools for a fantastic contest submission!

The contest is open from December 1, 2020 to March 1, 2021; participants must sign up before January 31, 2021 to be eligible.
Find out more about "Une fois, une voix" on our website, and sign up on the contest website here.

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Teacher trainings in January and February 2021

  • Réaliser un podcast en cours de FLE with Eric Schweitzer of CLEMI Paris: Tuesday, January 12; Thursday, January 14; Tuesday, January 19; and Thursday, January 21, 2021 from 5-6:30 PM (EST).
  • Culture contemporaine with Pierre-Yves Roux of France Education International: Tuesday, February 2, Wednesday, February 3 and Thursday, February 4, 2021 from 5-7 PM (EST). 
  • La bande dessinée en cours de FLE with Bernard Gruas, independent teacher of FLE: Saturday, February 27 from 12 noon-3 PM (EST). 

Find out more about the contents of each training on the French Embassy's website!

Please click here to sign up for the teacher training.


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A fight between an Imam and his powerful brother over their children’s marriage. At stake: how a small community slowly drifts towards extremism. 

Directed by Mamadou Dia, 2019, Senegal, 107 minutes, drama, Fulah with English subtitles 

Tickets available here

Festival Website: nyadiff.org/2020

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Bringing his experience in the ballet world with him, Lil Buck heads back to South Memphis to teach dance to the youth, offering them the chance of a better future. Returning home to the town where he first learned to dance, Lil Buck leads us through the streets as he recounts his personal story and the history of Jookin... 

Directed by Louis Wallecan, 2019, France/United States, 85 minutes, documentary, English 

Tickets available here

Festival Website: nyadiff.org/2020

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A day in the life of a family of three in contemporary Haiti. Child, adolescent, man – each with his dreams and frustrations and each finding a way to live. A day like every other day and everywhere, in every hand, there is a machete. So what will happen when night falls and dreams and frustrations collide? 

Directed by Matthieu Maunier-Rossi, 2019, Haiti, 29 minutes, drama, Haitian Creole with English subtitles 

Tickets available here

Festival Website: nyadiff.org/2020

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Fatem, sixth month pregnant, leaves her village perched in the mountains, to fill a frame with empty glasses for the elder of her village, the only person who can decipher the letters sent by members of the villagers’ families who have gone to work in the cities. She moves from station to station to arrive in town in the middle of a protest. This will turn her trip into a peaceful revolution that she is hardly aware of. 

Directed by Sanaa Akroud, 2020, Morocco, 86 minutes, drama, Arabic with English subtitles 

Tickets available here

Festival Website: nyadiff.org/2020

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Après le succès de l’ouverture de deux classes maternelle bilingues français/anglais (UPK) dans l’Upper East Side (UES) en septembre 2020, notre pétition est à nouveau en ligne pour l’extension du programme: l’ouverture d’un Kindergarten bilingue français/anglais dès Septembre 2021.

Deux sites situés dans l’Upper East Side sont actuellement à l’étude. 

Nous vous invitons à signer la pétition et à la diffuser le plus largement possible.

Les données seront déterminantes dans le choix de la localisation de l’école qui accueillera le programme. Elles seront utilisées par le City Councilman Ben Kallos pour appuyer notre demande lors d’une prochaine réunion avec le Department of Education (DOE) qui pourrait se tenir dans une dizaine de jours.


Merci à toutes et à tous pour votre soutien.

Catherine Remy

NYC District 2 - French Dual Language Program

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/593786378077031

WhatsApp Group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/IPaSII7eew50oOY2Bg039f 


Following the success of the opening of a French Dual Language Program for Pre-K in the Upper East Side in September 2020, we are now pushing to open the extension to this program : a bilingual French/English Kindergarten in September 2021.

Ben Kallos is going to use his platform as City Councilman to ask the DOE to a meeting within next 10 days and call for the opening of a Kindergarten next year. 

We’re actively considering two different sites on the Upper East Side. 

However, for the meeting to be effective we need to be able to show the data & interest.

Please sign this updated petition to see the program expanded to elementary schools.


Thank you for your continued support.

Catherine Remy

NYC District 2 - French Dual Language Program

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/593786378077031

WhatsApp Group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/IPaSII7eew50oOY2Bg039f


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7998971854?profile=RESIZE_710xOn October 2, I was thrilled to join Council Member Ben Kallos, French Consul Jérémie Robert, Community Education Council President Maud Maron, parents, teachers, and school administrators for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate two new French dual language classes that have opened at the District 2 Pre-K Center located at 355 East 76th Street in Manhattan. The joyous occasion for the families who attended the ribbon cutting and for all supporters comes after a very dedicated group of parents, including members of the Francophone community from Canada, Africa, and France, met with more than two hundred families who pledged to send their children to a French dual language program in Manhattan if one was created. I particularly congratulate the incredible efforts put forth by parents such as Stéphane Lautner, Catherine Rémy, and Nadia Levy who have kept the torch of the Bilingual Revolution burning in Manhattan even during these tough times. The French dual language classes began on September 21st with seats for 36 pre-K students. The Department of Education will operate these classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood-certified teacher who is fluent in French and who has or will work towards a bilingual extension, alongside a second Early Childhood-certified teacher.

Here are quotes from some of the participants as well as a news report and additional photos and links.

“I am incredibly proud of the people who did the work in order to make this program a reality. Knowledge is power so any opportunity we get to expand and improve education in my district I will be supportive of. We all know the benefits of dual language education and I am proud that we were able to bring them to this district,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”

7998960687?profile=RESIZE_710x“We’re thrilled to provide our youngest learners with another new Pre-K Dual Language program, which will prepare them to succeed in our diverse, multilingual world. With over 100 Dual Language Pre-K programs in 10 languages across the five boroughs, we continue to celebrate the multiculturism that makes up New York City and enriches all students’ learning,” said Josh Wallack Deputy Chancellor, Division of Early Childhood Education and Student Enrollment.

“This new French Dual Language is an amazing opportunity for New Yorkers to immerse into a new language, regardless of their personal background. It’s also a key to integration for francophone families. This program embraces all the cultural diversity of New York City,” said Jérémie Robert.Consul General of France in New York.

“Being bilingual is an undeniable advantage in today’s increasingly globalized world. The study of two languages has been found to increase creativity and cultural awareness, making it an invaluable asset for our multicultural society. That it can be offered to more young children in our public schools is a gift that will keep on giving.” said Fabrice Jaumont, PhD. Education Attaché of the Embassy of France and Author of The Bilingual Revolution.

7998961298?profile=RESIZE_710x“The opening of this bilingual program represents the culmination of two years of efforts to demonstrate the demand in the community. Our waitlist of over 100 students, coming from throughout Manhattan, speaks volumes about the need for such programs. We believe in public education as a common good to serve our communities. Bilingual public education programs help children and communities maintain links to culture, heritage, and identity,” said Stephane Lautner, parent organizer and local resident. “This program is a first step towards creating a new K-5/8 pathway for children interested in learning or maintaining a second language. We look forward to continuing this work in collaboration with our partners in the Department of Education, City Council, and Community Education Council.” 

“Constructing an identity through two languages and two cultures is a challenge that parents and bilingual kids can now take up more easily here in New York City District 2. As a believer in Public Schools, I am proud of this program and the diverse community that it has brought together,” said Catherine Remy parent organizer and local resident.

“When I brought my daughter to her first in-person day at our new East 76th street French dual language pre-k, I felt pure joy.  That feeling came from knowing that anyone in the community will be able to have access to this program and that parents can finally offer their children a public French dual language education.  I hope this is a stepping stone for the creation of other public dual language programs, as I firmly believe that bilingualism/multilingualism is a benefit to our children,” said Nadia Levy parent organizer and local resident.

“The parents who came together to advocate for this program were passionate and dedicated—and their hard work paid off for all the children who are now enrolled and for future children who will benefit from this program. I look forward to working with CM Kallos, the superintendent and the parents to find an elementary school to continue the French DL program in D2,” said Community Education Council 2 President Maud Maron.

 Families interested in learning more about pre-K admissions and receiving notification when the pre-K application opens for the 2021-22 school year can visit nyc.gov/prek.


Opening of the First French Dual Language Program in the Upper East Side: Meet Aneesha Jacko, Director of Early Childhood Education for the District 2 Pre-K Centers. By Catherine Remy

French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten to Launch on the Upper East Side Response to Demand from Parents and Council Member Ben Kallos

French Dual Language Program Celebrates Start on the Upper East Side with 36 Pre-K Seats


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It's a pleausre to invite you all to join in the ninth annual edition of Seuls en Scène, Princeton French Theater Festival, entirely virtual this year! Seuls en Scène introduces American audiences to contemporary French theater and takes place annually, in September, on the Princeton University campus. It is curated by Florent Masse, Director of L'Avant-Scène and Senior Lecturer in the Department of French and Italian. This year a dozen online events will highlight the fesival running from Thursday September 10, until Sunday, September 20. This ninth edition of the festival has been prepared in collaboration with the 49th edition of Festival d’Automne à Paris.

Starting this Thursday September 10, a Conversation on the state of French main festivals and theaters will launch the festival followed by a captivating documentary film on the creative process behind the show DU SALE! by Marion Siéfert that premiered at Théâtre de la Commune in Aubervilliers. On Friday, playwright Penda Diouf will read her most recent text Pistes. To prepare this reading, she has worked with celebrated Burkinabe director Aristide Tarnagda. On Saturday, we'll offer another reading specially made for us: Sandy Ouvrier and Astrid Bayiha will read a few scenes by Jean Racine during Fragments Racine. On Sunday, two live Zoom conversations will take place in the afternoon and feature Penda Diouf and Aristide Tarnagda followed by Marion Siéfert and Mathieu Bareyre.

We'll stream La Dispute by Mohamed El Khatib from Sunday evening, September 13, and the exciting Rituels series by Emilie Rousset and Louise Hémon from Tuesday, September 15. The Rituels series includes Le Grand Débat, not to be missed in this election season! The festival will end with the show for all audiences Rémi by Hector Malot, directed by Jonathan Capdevielle.

During week 2 of the festival there will also be live Zoom conversations: with Mohamed El Khatib on Wednesday, September 16, and Jonathan Capdevielle on September, 20. The conversation with artists Émilie Rousset and Louise Hémon will be prerecorded and available for streaming on Friday, September 18.

All online events are free and open to the public. They're accessible on the festival web pages from the days when they start streaming. On average, most online offerings are available for three days, except for the opening Conversation on the state of festivals and theaters in France, and Fragments Racine).

Registration on Eventbrite is required for the live Zoom converstions (link below).

- Here is the festival web pages on the site of the Lewis Center for the Arts: https://arts.princeton.edu/frenchtheater/ and those maintained by the Departement of French and Italian: https://fit.princeton.edu/

- The Eventbrite link for registration to the conversations: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/seuls-en-scene-princeton-french-theater-festival-11090010440

- And our festival promo video!: https://vimeo.com/454847678/582b426956

We look forward to seeing you soon!

All the best

Florent Masse

Princeton University
Department of French and Italian

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7848728480?profile=original"Within Reach" is an Immersive Interactive Cinematic Art Installation conceived and Directed by Laia Cabrera & Isabelle DuvergerInteractive Design by Aniol Saurina Masó | Original music by Nana Simopoulos

Cinematography and Editing by Laia Cabrera & Isabelle Duverger | Additional footage by Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo

"Within Reach" is an interactive art installation about transformation, reconnecting with the origin, nature and our relationship to it, created by filmmaker Laia Cabrera and visual artist Isabelle Duverger in collaboration with interactive designer Aniol Saurina Masó and composer Nana Simopoulos.Conceived as a seamless projection mapping design with full gesture responsive interactivity, “Within Reach” invites the audience to actively enter the heart of the piece creating a story that unfolds across a series of immersive interactive scenarios. The installation is a sensory experience thought the elements, from the earth to the skies, from liquid shapes to seeds and visual metaphors, and the principle of change and transformation, where the line is blurred between the physical and the digital world, between the real and the imaginary.We are far, minuscule, looking from above, but we are actors, actively morphing and shaping what we see. The sea is moving the trees, from the molecules to the exploration of nature and its fruits. “Within Reach” explores the soul of nature, it’s quietness and its power, fertility trough avatars being the fruits and seeds to the infinitesimal and the microscopic on a journey of landscapes and its enchanting beauty. The human presence is only visible at the beginning at gen end as a minuscule glimpse of looking at the skies, where coffee grains and bubbles are rain on our dreams.The audience can affect change, create an avatar of themselves and discover ways to interact with the installation, embody the different storylines and share the experience with each other.

“Within Reach” premiered in Jersey City at the Art Wall Coolvines Powerhouse on August 11, 2020 and is currently in view until September 30, 2020.Art Wall Coolvines Powerhouse, 350 Warren St Jersey City, NJ

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7848709887?profile=RESIZE_710xWhen asked if the story—her story—depicted in the recently published memoir and ode to the immigrant experience, Immigrant Dreams, created in her a feeling of solidarity and connection to the immigrants of today, Barbara Goldowsky responds, "Absolutely."

Ms. Goldowsky's personal narrative takes us from Dachau, Germany, where she was born, to Alsace-Lorraine, where her family lived between 1941 and 1945, and then back to Dachau as World War Two and Hitler’s dictatorship were about to end. After emigration to the United States in 1950, Goldowsky’s young adulthood was spent with already-settled family in Chicago. She attended public schools and junior college and then studied at the University of Chicago where she became interested in creative writing and literature, inspired by the Beat poets published by The Chicago Review. Later, while raising a family and living on Long Island, New York in the  1980s  she was able to build the writing career that had germinated many years before.

In recalling her youth in war-torn and then liberated Dachau, a town most known for the infamous concentration camp located on its outskirts, Ms. Goldowsky describes "a charming medieval town" that was an artists' colony for decades, evident in the streets named after painters and writers. About 11 miles from Munich, which contained an artists' colony of its own, Dachau was within the American Zone of occupation following the war.

At the gymnasium (academic high school) she attended in Munich, English language instruction was offered and Goldowsky learned the basics of grammar and vocabulary.   After arriving in Chicago, she was able to spearhead her family's effort to learn the language. Her mother did not speak English and her younger brother had barely learned to read and write in German when the family arrived in the U.S.

This learning helped, but didn't insulate her from the difficulties of acclimating to American life when she, aged 14, her brother, aged 8, and her single mother moved to Chicago, sponsored by her aunt and uncle.

The author's high school in Chicago had a newspaper, but she didn't join out of a reticence to express herself in a native setting in her new language. She soon, though, became enamored of journalism and newspapers by reading The Chicago Tribune, which her uncle subscribed to and "was always there," she remembers. "I was very up on the news." 

Her next step was, in Ms. Goldowsky's words, "another immigrant dream fulfilled", when  she received a scholarship, "thanks to a very perceptive and wonderful journalism teacher" at her junior college. The scholarship, a foreign concept to her, provided an education her family could not have otherwise afforded.

Majoring in political science with the aim of becoming a news reporter,  she attended the University of Chicago, and continued her discovery of American and British literature which had started as a young adult. Although she was familiar with all of Grimm’s fairy tales, American children’s literature was still foreign to her. “I had to catch up with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,” she recalls. When she moved on to reading the poetry of T.S. Eliot, she encountered a language that, she termed, was "so rich."

"I'm not sure I put it in words for myself, but I really enjoyed reading in English," the author of Immigrant Dreams says. Of Eliot's works, she says, "I understood maybe half, but I saw the cadences and the beauty of it."

At her university's bookstore, she picked up a copy of the school literary magazine, The Chicago Review, and started reading contemporary writers such as Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. She found the courage to walk into the magazine's offices and obtain a position as a staff member in the late 1950s. 

Just like that, she was "plunged into the Beat revolution". Without question this was an eye-opening experience, especially for a new immigrant learning the ropes of her new country's language and literature. 

She acknowledges this and observes that it was "a real education" because "the language was changing." This was thanks to authors like William S. Burroughs, whom The Chicago Review wanted to publish but ran into difficulty with the university’s administration due to the controversial nature of his writings.

Her firsthand account of this era, which saw her and other editors resign from the school magazine to found their own countercultural journal, is detailed in a piece she wrote for The Chicago Review in 2019, a memoir entitled Beat Poets and Zen Buddhists on the Midway.

Returning to why Ms. Goldowsky has written this memoir, Immigrant Dreams, now, she tells me a story about her late husband.

As she's gotten to be a grandmother, her family has told her "Oh, you've had such an interesting life. You should write all that up!" When she reflected on it, she thought her story would be nice for her family to read, but didn't think it would benefit a wider public.

"But then came the election of 2016. “And shortly after, we began to see this poisonous climate of hatred against immigrants. The Muslim ban; parents tried to hold on the their children as they were dragged away [at the U.S.-Mexico border]."

"One day," she says "I walked past the photo of my late husband that hangs in my room," explaining that she always says hi to him there.

"I suddenly heard what he would say. In my mind, he would have said, 'Okay, you have a problem. So, state the problem, look at it and, then, don't sit there—do something!” 

"So his mantra was take action."

As a result, Ms. Goldowsky said she saw what action she could take, and that was to write. She began to cull the autobiographical essays she had started to write on Long Island, all the while thinking of herself and her brother coming over in 1950 and how different their story would have been had it happened now.

She wondered aloud to me how things would have been different if she and her family had been people of color, unable to integrate more easily into a predominantly white society once they learned English.

But still she thought, "You know, that's what I can do. I can write."

And Immigrant Dreams was born.

Article written by Andrew Palmacci for NewYorkinFrench on September 6, 2020

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