Wednesday, July 24, 2024

PSUC French Club embraces culture, teaches language

Bonjour et bienvenue au club de français. At Plattsburgh State, the French Club continues to educate and inspire students about the French language and culture. 

Junior nursing major Ralph Cordeau is the president of the French Club and has been with the club for three semesters. Cordeau said he grew up in a Haitian household, and French was his first language. 

 “I grew up French,” Cordeau said. “Everything I did up until just recently has been in French.”

With a French minor already under his belt, Cordeau said he enjoys Plattsburgh’s French connections and close proximity to Montreal.

“Once in a while, I visit there and get my French fix,” Cordeau said.

Sophomore biomedical major and French Club Vice President Brian Perez said the club meets weekly, discusses different topics and attempts to learn the vocabulary of that topic in French. A few weeks ago, Perez said the club took a trip to Quiché et Crepe, a local French restaurant in downtown Plattsburgh. 

“Before we went to the cafe, we refreshed on how to order [food] in a French restaurant and what we would expect,” Perez said. 

Perez has been a member of the club for two semesters and has declared a French minor as well. He joined to improve his French, which he described as beautiful. 

“I just love the French language,” Perez said. “I enjoy learning languages.”

Steffaney Jabaut is a PSUC sophomore international business major and treasurer of the French Club. Jabaut is also in the process of completing her French minor. While she took five and a half years of Spanish in high school, Jabaut said a lot of her family members knew French, so she decided to switch it up and learn a different language. 

Perez said he likes how complex the language is in grammar and pronunciation, explaining that phrases like ‘What is it?’ in English roughly translates to, ‘What is that that this is?’ in French.

“Certain words make no sense, and I love it for that reason,” Perez said.

Jabaut said being in the French Club allows for a more relaxed learning atmosphere. 

“French is a very hard language to learn,” Jabaut said. “When we get together and kind of talk about it on our own from a student-to-student perspective, it makes it a lot more engaging and fun.” 

Cordeau said he likes how laid-back the club is. With new members, he doesn’t expect a perfect knowledge of French, and the club doesn’t focus on technicalities or formalities of the language. 

“It’s encouraged that people try their best,” Cordeau said. “I just expect people have an open mind and go into the culture and explore it with their perspective.”

Jabaut also said the club has tried to be more active this semester compared to past semesters. Cordeau said the club was almost disbanded last spring but because the club had a decent budget from the Student Association, he wanted to bring it back to life and managed to find enough members to satisfy board positions. 

“I just didn’t want to see the club die,” Cordeau said. “I was on the panel of [SA] senators that put down all the clubs that were no longer active, and French Club had been a little bit active, so we barely made it.”

Cordeau said most, if not all, of the members have French minors, but none are French majors.

Previous coverage in Cardinal Points reported that PSUC’s Faculty Senate announced the deactivation of the French BA and BS major on Oct. 3, 2017. The major was, “put on hold” for the next three years. The French minor and French classes still continue to be offered and will not affect students already enrolled in the program but no new students have the option to declare a French major. Lack of enrollment was the main reason for the program’s hiatus, which was shown by the four students enrolled in the program at that time.

Cordeau said the deactivation was disappointing from a native-speaker perspective. 

“It’s a hit,” Cordeau said. “You really realize how little an interest there is in the language in this area.”

While Jabaut understood why the major was deactivated, she said cutting the major limits students and their opportunity to learn a foreign language, especially being so close to Canada.

“It’s kind of sad to see something used to the advantage of students be taken away like that,” Jabaut said.

Even though Perez said having no French major was horrible, he believes studying another language increases job opportunities for students coming out of college.

“It just opens a whole new world to someone when they know a different language,” Perez said. “For the sake of knowledge, it’s great to feel smart about something and increase [your] intelligence.” 

In terms of activities, the French Club also hopes to plan a late-night or overnight trip to Montreal in the near future. They currently meet Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the main lounge of Champlain Valley Hall. 

“Stop by,” Perez said. “[French] is a pleasant stress.” 

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