The Association Française held French National Week to bring attention to French culture at Southern Miss Oct.28-Nov. 1.
Over the course of the week, various events were held in the Liberal Arts Building which highlighted different aspects of life in France. These included a trivia contest on Monday and a film screening on Wednesday.
“It’s a week in which we promote and convince students to share their knowledge about the French life with family and friends,” faculty advisor Keltoum Rowland said.
Rowland is the founder of the Association Française and has hosted French National Week for nearly 15 years. The scope of French National Week has evolved in that time. In 2018, Mayor Toby Barker presented a proclamation to the group for their contributions to Southern Miss.
Rowland said the real learning occurs outside the classroom and participating in the week’s events lets them meet other students and it might get them interested in wanting to pursue learning French.
“It’s not every day you get to learn about a totally different language that’s spoken by so many people around the world,” French major freshman Kiera Charles said.
Charles said Rowland convinced her to attend the event. Charles said she enjoyed learning more about France. She said one of her favorite events was one where students had to post a picture of a meme done in French on social media.
“It’s interesting because you’re having to try and think about how they make the jokes since there’s differences in language and grammar you have to consider,” Charles said.
English and French double major sophomore Olivia Ladner has been vice president of the Association Française since last year and said her membership allows her see how other students react to being exposed to France and its culture.
“It’s definitely not something they get to see normally at school, and plus it may get them interested in wanting to learn more about the country and its language,” Ladner said.
Exposure is the key theme of French National Week, and one of the ways the group raised awareness on the French language was through a cheese-sampling held on Tuesday.
“One of our most popular events was “There’s a World Outside of Cheddar” because students like being able to try out foreign cuisine, but this event also let students learn how other countries create and handle products we are familiar with,” Rowland said.
Forensic anthropology major junior Samantha Cole attended Tuesday’s event and said she learned about it from a friend who was taking French.
“Taking part in French National Week made me feel like I was seeing the world through the eyes of another person, which is something you don’t normally say about an event like this,” Cole said.