Ambassador Barbier visits KwaZulu Natal
On the 29th of July 2013, after visiting Potshini the Bergville region, a small town at the foot of the Drakensburg in KwaZulu Natal, the Ambassador of France, Mrs. Elisabeth Barbier, visited the UKZN Scottsville Campus in Pietermaritzburg (PMB).
She was welcomed by Professor Bernard De Meyer (BDM), the head of the French department of the Faculty of Arts and his two colleagues : Dr. Jaco Alant and Mrs. Ghyslaine Dye.
Professor De Mayer, who has been responsible for the instruction of French language for the past 10 years, a specialist in French literature, is also fervently involved in community projects. He is the head of the Association for French Studies in Southern Africa (http://www.afssa.org.za/) which organized the 13th world conference of the International Federation of Teachers of French in Duran in July 2012. He is also the vice-president of the Association of French Teachers in Africa and the Indian Ocean (http://apfa-oi.fipf.org/accueil).
The UKZN-PMB French section in is particularly active. Under the leadership of PMB, the number of students has tripled with more than 100 students in2013. This significant increase in numbers can only be explained by the excellent quality of services provided by the three teachers who are extremely passionate about their work and their research.
The ambassador of France witnessed this first hand as she had the opportunity to meet a few students including the latest winner of the Francophoniecompetition.(http://www.ambafrance-rsa.org/Francophonie-2013)UKZN-PMB has produced 4 winners in the last 4 years who all took home the first prize, a trip to France.
She also had the opportunity to talk toSakhileXulu, a second year student who just came back from a trip to Paris as part of the LabCitoyen program organized by the French Institute.(http://apfa-oi.fipf.org/accueil).
She also met Lara Williams, a first year Masters student studying French who will be going to France on the 30th of September to be an English assistant at the Academy of Dijon.
Every year, South Africa sends 12 French students to teach English in France for a period of 8 months. (http://www.ciep.fr/assistantetr/index.php) When they get back home, they are perfectly bilingual (francophone) and have developed skills which naturally steer them towards teaching French in their home country. This is the case for Kristin McLean who taught English in Grenoble in 2011/2012 and is currently completing a teaching internship at St John Diocesan School for Girls in PMB. JenetteReitsma taught English in Caen in 2010/2011 and is currently teaching French at The Wykeham College in PMB. Alexandra Stewart was an English assistant in Reunion Island in 2009/2010 and is now teaching French at the Alliance Française in PMB.
(left to right) JenetteReitsma, LaraWilliams, Kristin McLean, Mme l’Ambassadrice, SakhileXuluet Alexandra Stewart.
(bottom to top, left to right) Orphée Gerson Goré, post doctorant de l’université de Grenoble, Philip Awezaye, doctorant à PMB-UKZN, Mme Ghyslaine Dye, Mme l’Ambassadrice et M. Franck Marchetti, Conseiller de Coopération et d’Action culturelle ; Patrick Parrot, attaché de coopération pour le français, JenetteReitsma, LaraWilliams, Kristin McLean, Professeur Bernard De Meyer, SakhileXulu, Dr. Jaco Alant et Alexandra Stewart.
Following the visit to UKZN-PMB, the ambassador moved on to the Riverside Campus of the Durban University of Technology (DUT).
The ambassador was welcomed by Dr. Martin Mandew, the brand new director of the Midlands Centre of DUT. After admiring the rose gardenplanted by former French teacher, Mrs. Glenn Flanagan, the French delegation met with a handful of students from the departments of Public Relations and Ecotourism, led by their French teacher, Mr. Bobby Mpela Monshem and Janice Dunrag, Head of the Ecotourism department.
The DUT Riverside Campus teaches French to forty-or-so students. They only have one year to learn the basics of the language which represents about a hundred learning hours. This still seems to be enough to prepare them for the DELF A1, a written test taken at the Alliance Française in PMB which has been used as an exam center since 2011. They testabout 80 candidates each year who usually come from secondary schools in the region. Dr. Martin Mandew, who took up his position less than a month ago,an admirer of the French way of live (art of living ?,) is personally committed to giving the students the possibility of furthering their French studies.
The PMB Alliance Française is led by Mrs. Glenn Flanagan who was decorated Knight of theLegion of Honor onthe 1st of June, 2012 by Ambassador Lapouge. Since 1995, she has been the driving force behind the cultural tourism project centered around French presence in KwaZulu Natal and the route of the Imperial Price Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte(www.princeimperial.co.za) of which the uQweqwe community in the heart of KwaZulu Natal, is the primary beneficiary.