The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection will be hosting a lecture by Prof. Rhea Côté Robbins on the topic “Franco-American Gender Roles: Motherhood and More” Thursday, March 13th at 1 p.m. at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College. Robbins is is a professor of Franco-American Studies at the University of Maine, and is the founder of the Franco-American Women’s Institute, an organization of women who gather together as a force for the specific purpose of promoting Franco-American, ethnic women’s voices in a variety of forms. Continue reading
The entire student body from L’École Française du Maine in Freeport is putting on a show in French for about 250 patrons of the Franco Center’s monthly French luncheon, known as “La Rencontre,” with the next one set for Thursday, March 13 at 11:30 a.m. This year the students are participating in a circus production from France known as Cie Tour du Cirque, a traveling husband-and-wife team who visit accredited French schools throughout America to teach students about the circus and to incorporate the children into the show itself. The children will sing, dance, juggle, do acrobatics and magic tricks in a show entitled “Derrière la Porte,” which translates as “Behind the Door.”
“In the francophone world the circus is a deep part of our culture, so it’s very culturally relevant to what we do here,” says Willy LeBihan, director of L’École Française du Maine, a K-6 elementary school and one of 40 French-language schools in the United States that enjoy full accreditation by the French national government.
The couple who created this circus, Farid Abed and Marion Achard, come from the Dijon region in the eastern part of France. They will be arriving in Maine on March 9th for the final stop of their current east coast tour and will spend four days at the school preparing the children for their roles. The circus has also appeared at schools in New Orleans, North Carolina, New York and Boston.
The student circus will immediately follow lunch, where patrons will be served lasagna with ground beef from DaVinci’s Eatery along with their signature “garlic knot” bread rolls, which is another annual tradition at the Franco Center. The cost to attend La Rencontre is $7, which includes both the meal and the entertainment. To make reservations, call the Franco Center at 783-1585 any weekday between noon and 4 p.m. The deadline for reservations is 4 p.m. on Monday, March 10th.
In the past when La Rencontre was held on a Fridays, the lasagna was always meatless in observance of Catholic prohibitions on meat consumption on Fridays during lent. Now that La Rencontre has been moved to Thursdays, however, ground beef no longer poses a problem for observers of lent.
LeBihan says that one of the school’s faculty, Céline Fournier, has long had a fascination with the circus and has spent considerable time during the current school year sharing her knowledge with her students.
“On top of being a certified teacher, she is someone who has practiced acrobatics and studied contemporary dance, and she has been training the children in these disciplines,” LeBihan says of Fournier. “Our students are prepared and are thrilled to particpate.”
“This year’s lineup in the ninth annual ‘F.A.B.’ Winter Dance Showcase is a testament to the health and diversity of Maine’s contemporary dance community,” says Carol Dilley, an organizer of the event and director of the Bates College dance program.
“F.A.B.” takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the Franco Center, 46 Cedar St. in Lewiston. The event is produced in association with Bates by the Franco Center, formerly known as the Franco-American Heritage Center. (“F.A.B.” stands for Franco-American and Bates.) Continue reading
The Franco Center has pre-emptively decided to postpone its monthly French luncheon, known as La Rencontre and originally scheduled for this Thursday, by one week due to a messy winter storm expected to hit the region this week.
The new date is Thursday, February 20th – a week later. A private event scheduled at the Franco Center on Friday precluded moving La Rencontre back by just one day, and so management decided to keep the event on a Thursday for the sake of continuity. Continue reading
The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection will be hosting a lecture by Prof. Christian Potholm on the topic of Franco-Americans and Maine politics, Thursday February 27th at 3:30 pm at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.
Potholm is DeSilva Alexander Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College. He’ is also the founder of the Potholm Group, a political research and consulting firm. Potholm was a consultant for the State Taskforce on Franco-Americans in 2012, and has been an expert observer of Maine’s politics for decades. His books on Maine politics include: This Splendid Game, The Delights of Democracy, An Insider’s Guide to Maine Politics and most recently, Maine: An Annotated Bibliography. All are available from Amazon.com
“This is an unprecedented year for Franco-Americans in terms of Maine’s political scene,” says Collection Coordinator James Myall. “For the first time in Maine, and perhaps anywhere in the United States, there are two Franco-American candidates vying for the governorship. We’re pleased to welcome Professor Potholm to share his insights on both the political history of Maine’s Franco-Americans and what the upcoming year has in store.”
The event is part of the Franco-American Collection’s Spring Lecture series, organized in partnership with USM LAC faculty and made possible by support from the University of Maine System’s Diversity Committee. For more information on the other events in the series, please visit the Collection’s website, www.usm.maine.edu/franco.
The event is free and open to the public. USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College is located at 51 Westminster Street in Lewiston. For more information, call 207-753-6545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection will be holding its monthly sing-along session at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College Friday, January 17 at 1:30 p.m. The sessions consist of an hour of French and French-Canadian songs, led by a group of enthusiastic local volunteers. Song sheets are provided, so those whose French is less than fluent are welcome to attend. New participants are always welcome. Continue reading
The Franco Center has announced that the second session of French Re-acquisition classes for adults and Fun in French classes for children will begin in November. The classes for adults run for
six (6) five (5) consecutive weeks, whereas the Saturday morning Fun in French classes for kids will be held for five (5) weeks over a six-week stretch with a weekend off in the middle due to the Thanksgiving weekend. Continue reading
The Franco-American Heritage Center conducted a history tour on Monday, July 29th for 28 educators including teachers, school principals, and administrators from India, Pakistan, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, who are all in Maine to attend the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield.
The tour of the Franco Center and of the Little Canada neighborhood included some traditional Franco-American music and a snack of crepes topped with maple syrup from Quebec. The Franco Center provided a “meal-to-go” package for those in the group currently observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which calls for fasting during daylight hours.
Dr. Daniel Moses, Director of the Educator’s Program at Seeds of Peace, along with his Assistant Director, Deb Bicknell, run a professional development program called “Making History,” which uses Maine’s past to stimulate further discussion on various interpretations of history, the subjective nature of history, and the search for scientific facts in the historical process.
Dr. Julianna Acheson, the history tour’s organizer for Seeds of Peace, says the purpose of the program is to provide visiting teachers from countries with a history of ethnic strife with new tools for teaching students and to promote the critical thinking skills necessary to equip future leaders in their respective homelands.
“We’re visiting the Franco-American Heritage Center as part of our exploration of the history of Maine,” said Acheson. “We have also attended panel discussions with African-American and Native American leaders, toured the Maine State Museum in Augusta, and took a walking tour of Portland that included a visit to Longfellow’s home and museum.”
Acheson called the Franco Center last week to inquire about the possibility of a tour and a brief history of the building. Franco Center executive director Louis Morin agreed, and offered a more expansive tour of Little Canada along with a sampling of traditional Franco foods and music.
“This building is interesting by itself,” Morin said, referring to the Franco Center, which is located in the former St. Mary’s Church in the heart of Little Canada, “but to get a sense of what it meant to new arrivals from Quebec, you really need to see it in the context of the entire neighborhood.”
Patrons of the Franco-American Heritage Center’s monthly French language luncheon, known as La Rencontre, raised $575 on Friday, July 12, to donate to a relief fund to help the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, recover from the recent train derailment and fire that left 50 people dead or missing and devastated the town’s center.
After reading an editorial in the Sun Journal that morning about the relief fund set up by the Town of Farmington, which has been a “sister city” with Lac-Mégantic since 1991, Franco Center board of directors president Raymond Lagueux approached Louis Morin, the center’s executive director, as patrons were filing into La Rencontre and suggested taking up a collection.
Morin not only agreed, he committed the Franco Center’s proceeds from the 50-50 raffle from Friday’s La Rencontre, which added an additional $105 to the $470 raised during the collection that will be donated this week to the Lac-Mégantic relief fund.
“The majority of people who come to La Rencontre every month, myself included, still have relatives living in Quebec,” Morin says. “I commend Ray Lagueux for seizing the opportunity when the Franco Center was full to take up the collection. Most of the patrons at La Rencontre are elderly and on fixed incomes, which makes their generosity all the more touching.”
For others who wish to donate, the relief fund is established at TD Bank in Farmington. Donations can be delivered in person or mailed to either of the bank’s two Farmington branches, located at 163 Broadway or 670 Wilton Road (zip code 04938). “Lac-Mégantic” must be written somewhere on the check.
The Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston will conduct the spring-summer session of its French Reacquisition classes beginning the week of May 20, 2013. The six weekly classes take place over seven weeks through July 2nd and will be held from 6-8 p.m. on either Monday or Tuesday, depending on ability.
Classes will not be held on Monday, May 27th or Tuesday, May 28th in observance of Memorial Day on the 27th and a long-planned function at the Franco Center on May 28th. After the last class on July 2nd, classes will break for the summer and resume again the fall.
Monday nights are for “false beginners,” who at one time possessed a basic level of French-speaking ability which may have diminished over the years though lack of practice. Participants get reacquainted with vocabulary, verb tenses and sentence structure in order to build on what they already know. Varied topics are used as a guide to help with speaking. The pace is relaxed and class is taught in both French and English.
Tuesday nights are for those who speak French at an intermediate or advanced level and who wish to improve their confidence in a weekly forum where they get to practice alongside others with comparable abilities. These are conversational classes with very little grammar, and are taught almost exclusively in French. Materials vary and participants choose from a list of possible topics.
Teaching both courses will be Diane Pelletier-Perron. Born into a large Franco-American family in Lewiston, she has a bachelor’s degree in French and lived in France for 18 years, teaching and tutoring both French and English for over 20 years.
“I’m delighted to see so many people getting reacquainted with their French language and heritage,” says Pelletier-Perron. “Speaking from my own experience, there’s a sense of satisfaction and pride when you can have a conversation in French and understand French news and cinema. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you last spoke French, you can definitely get it back. I did.”
Classes will be held in the Heritage Hall at the Franco Center. The total cost for the six classes is $75, and registration can be done via the telephone by calling 783-1585 or by emailing Joyce Coyne at jcoyne(at)francocenter.org. To register by mail, send your contact information and payment to Franco-American Heritage Center, 46 Cedar Street, Lewiston, ME 04240 Attn: French Reacquisition.
As the word “reacquisition” suggests, the classes are not designed for those who have never spoken any French at all and who have no experience with the language. The Franco Center also requires a minimum of 8 people per class and if that threshold is not met, full refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.