Francophonie Month Challenge! You in?
Here we are in March again and la mois de la Francophonie! As an American growing up in New England, I can honestly say, the first time I heard the term "Francophonie" was in my early 30s. Kind of shocking right? Like a million French-Canadians jammed into New England 100 years ago and today we have little connection to the francophone world.
Fast forward to the present day. I’m super aware of what la Francophonie is, how it came to be, and why it’s something to celebrate.
I look at March as a time to step out of our Franco-American/French Canadian silo and learn something about the rest of the French-speaking world. The biggest question that comes to mind as an English-speaking Franco-American is, "is this something I should celebrate too?"
That’s a tough question to answer. Since many of us didn’t grow up celebrating this month, it comes down to a choice. Do we embrace where we come from or not. For me, I think it’s time to lean in and embrace it! I know what some are thinking. What can I do? Here some quick and easy ways to celebrate la mois de la Francophonie even if your French knowledge is minimal.
Take a class/Use an app
Like it or not our heritage is tied strongly to the French language. Why not try to learn a little? Being glued to our phones all the time isn’t a great thing, but it does make it super easy to pick up some French. We’re lucky there are hundreds of different apps out there.
Maybe you really want to jump in and take a class. A bit intimidating right? Well, not so much anymore. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a Berlitz class to begin your journey you don't even have to attend in person.
The COVID plague has led to major shifts in learning. Many language schools now offer online and “on-demand” options. Taking an introductory course to learn the basics could be a fun little activity.
Pronounce French words correctly
This is a big one for Americans. Let’ talk about croissants for a minute, or as we say crah-sunts. This is an international tragedy folks. What are we doing here? We have an amazing French food that we’ve let become anglicized into oblivion. If you happen to order one of these in March, give pronouncing it the French way a shot.
If you’re super daring and have a French last name, try saying it as close to the French way as possible. If English Canadians can do it, so can we!
Attend an online event
I’ve heard this one before, “we don’t celebrate anything anymore.” Look that’s just not true, it’s different and more niche now, but we do celebrate things. There are events in New England this month from Connecticut all the way up to Presque Isle, ME. You just have to look. Try Googling and you'll see. Here are some events that are upcoming in the next few days: https://www.myfrenchcanadianfamily.com/events
Teach people in your family what you know
There’s a person in every family who is very into their genealogy or heritage. Speak up to others this month. Yes, it’s OK to annoy your family. It’s the Francophonie after all!
There are many family stories in our culture that were never handed down. Maybe it was fear? May they didn’t think anyone would care? Well, you never know until you try.