The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The French Club Uncovered

October 19, 2015

The French Club Uncovered

“I speak French.”

These are the words that one might hear slip out of the mouth of a sophisticated woman. One dressed in a fashionable scarf with her hair tucked under a beret, delicately sipping her warm coffee, a light croissant gripped softly in her hand.

French itself is both a worldly and elegant language; everything about it, from the exquisite accent to the intriguing vocabulary, is evidently beautiful. And both Hannah Jones-Riser and Sophia Stanescu-Bellu are clearly aware of this.

Murmurs have continuously rippled throughout FHC’s halls regarding an ancient French club that used to exist, started up multiple times in the past by insistent students but which always died off. Last summer, the gossiped about French club was born once  again. Jones-Riser and Stanescu-Bellu, two AP French students, discussed how there should be an organized group whose primary focus was to fundraise and set money aside for the many opportunities offered, such as the upcoming trip to Paris. Previously, many of the French students had been dependent on the French teachers to arrange such matters. Considering the history of the previous French clubs, keeping it alive proves itself to be a difficult feat. However, it is nothing that the determined Jones-Riser and Stanescu-Bellu can’t tackle head on.

“Sophia and I are already both involved in multiple organizations,” Jones-Riser stated, when questioned about the strenuous task. “So we are already familiar with the structure of the organizations, how to go about setting things up, and the act of facilitating meetings. We are positive that we have what it takes to make it successful.”

And the rebirth of the French club could not have happened at a more convenient time. The number of students enrolled in French class has always been relatively small. As you progressively move from French 1 all the way to AP French, the class size shrinks considerably. However, according to Jones-Riser, interest in the language itself has blossomed over the years. For instance, French 4 and AP French contain 21 students combined, which is considerably large compared to previous years. The native tongue of French is a precious hidden jewel that, when discovered and dusted off a bit, holds an immense indispensable value.

“I’ve studied French for about six years,” Stanescu-Bellu said. “I’ve grown to love it. The language itself is beautiful and the culture possesses a rich, interesting history.”

The primary objective of the newly formed French club is to raise awareness about French class as a whole and aid individuals in uncovering the “hidden jewel.” Both Jones and Stanescu-Bellu are well aware that many of FHC’s students have younger siblings who are naturally funneled into other languages such as Spanish and sign language. The desire is to encourage people to understand a simple fact: French is anything but boring. The overall attitude in the community regarding French class needs to be significantly altered.

Le Club De Francais may first come off as a rather intimidating organization; however, it is crucial that individuals understand the group is geared towards those willing to learn. You are not expected to be a French prodigy who is able to perfectly conjugate every single verb; as said best by Jones-Riser herself, you are simply expected to show up to the meeting willing to both learn about a new culture and eat. The club itself will be focusing on the different countries, even smaller ones that aren’t that well known (such as African and Caribbean countries) who practice the elegant language of French. Although specific plans regarding each individual meeting are still currently in the works, the general basis of the club has already been decided.

“One thing we are sure about is following in the footsteps of our French teacher, Madame VanHouten,” Jones-Riser began. “She has always placed a huge emphasis on food. Sophia and I are going to be bringing in a variety of French cuisine to the club gatherings; dishes like chocolate, french bread, and croissants will definitely be passed around.”

Besides bringing food to the plate, the French club has so much more to offer. Political aspects and current events involving the country will be discussed; there are many world issues revolving around France that are particularly germane. The issue of Syrian refugees attempting to enter in France and the other matter of the Muslim community are specifically relevant today. These particular events will encourage students to step outside of the overly criticized “bubble” they are supposedly trapped in and become more aware regarding what is happening in the world around them.

Will the erudite discussions all take place in French? This is probably the one daunting question running through your mind right about now. What if I don’t know any French? Is the club exclusive to those who are experts in French? The simple answer to all those mind racking inquiries is “no”. The club was primarily formed with those who know very little about France in mind, with the main objective of course being education. Who knows…. while attending the meetings, you may even pick up on the language. As stated by Jones-Riser, French is fairly simple to learn, especially if an individual possesses previous Spanish background. As a previous Spanish student, Jones-Riser transferred into French with an obvious advantage. Jones-Riser remarked that the two languages parallel one another, and because of this, she went into French already knowing more than half of the vocabulary words. The upcoming French club is the perfect setting to expose individuals to the language, little by little, one sophisticated word at a time.

“The club provides the ideal environment for individuals to begin the process of learning about France,” Stanescu-Bellu said, when questioned about the intent of the group. “Who knows… If you’re not already in French, maybe the club will convince you to enroll in it for the upcoming school year.”

With the club promising meetings every Wednesday from 3-4 in room 138, it is evident that this is an opportunity that provides students with a valuable learning opportunity. Not only offering sublime cuisine, French subtitled movies once a month, and small, exclusive field trips to French bakeries along the way, it is obvious that the French club is a beneficial addition to FHC.

French teacher Madame VanHouten adamantly agrees with this, and encourages other students to check out the club as well.

“When I was in high school, I was given the chance to choose between French and Spanish,” began French teacher Madame Vanhouten. ” I just gravitated towards French, and as I progressively learned about it, I fell in love with it. Personally, I think the French club will offer individuals a chance to meet new people, study the culture in depth, and encourage them to broaden their horizons.”

    

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