Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA celebrates fifth Journée de la Francophonie


On Feb. 24, 2024, UTSA celebrated its fifth annual Journée de la Francophonie, a celebration of the French language in all its variations and the diverse cultures of its speakers. The event aims to foster the study of French in Texas high schools and highlight UTSA’s French program and linguistic diversity.

This year’s edition included the historic participation of 14 schools from the San Antonio and Houston areas, who arrived on campus at 8 a.m., right on time for the opening ceremony. 

Delivering the opening remarks were Assistant Chair of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department Dr. Michael Rushforth, Program Officer of Linguistic & Educational Affairs at the Consulate General of France in Houston Juliette Richoux and the President of San Antonio’s Alliance française Patrice Melancon, alongside UTSA soccer player Ian Etienne, who introduced this year’s theme for the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

After the ceremony, over 250 students were divided into 18 teams representing different French-speaking countries, from Algeria to Monaco. Each team consisted of 14 students from different schools and fluency levels and a UTSA student who acted as Team Manager.

From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., students enjoyed various activities following a rotation system every 30 minutes. Students started by playing soccer, badminton and volleyball, chosen due to their popularity in the French-speaking world. The students then enjoyed an incredible Pétanque game, the most famous traditional French sport whose origins can be traced to the South of France; for many, this was their first time playing, and it introduced them to an icon of French culture. After the activities, attendees enjoyed traditional French cuisine in the form of sweet and savory crepes provided by Sweet Paris-Crêperie & Café, a charming restaurant near campus at La Cantera. Afterward, the students attended presentations about the history of the modern Olympic games and its founder, Pierre de Coubertin, followed by talks that introduced them to famous Moroccan and Algerian athletes and their contributions to their respective sports. Attendees also enjoyed dancing to the rhythm of Moroccan music while wearing traditional Moroccan clothing. The main activity rotation ended with a competition where students could test their newly acquired knowledge of the French language, this year’s Olympic games and impactful French-speaking athletes.

Simultaneously with the rotations, some students participated in competitive activities across three proficiency levels, from beginner to advanced, where they had to prepare for months in advance. These competitions ranged from singing a popular French song or performing a one-act play portraying an interview with an Olympic athlete to a Dictée competition or designing a poster to promote the Paris 2024 Olympics. Students displayed exceptional French, artistic ability, knowledge of the Olympics and a deep understanding of the cultures of many French-speaking countries.

Then, students took part in a treasure hunt that showed them around some of the most iconic landmarks of the main campus. In the closing ceremony, the first three places in each competitive activity were awarded medals inspired by the versions that athletes will receive in Paris 2024. 

La Journée de la Francophonie was made possible by the leadership of UTSA’s French program Coordinator Isabelle Hall, with the support of UTSA students Margot Thevoux, Daniela Tovar and Miguel Hernandez, alongside French program lecturer Dr. Robert Watson and Dr. Michael Rushforth. La Journée benefited from generous contributions by the San Antonio Alliance Française, the Consulate General of France in Houston, Sweet Paris Café and H-E-B. La Journée also counted on the essential participation of UTSA students and community members as volunteers. This edition has been the most successful thus far and will return in February next year.

Stay tuned for more Modern Languages Department events as the French program prepares to host the upcoming first edition of UTSA’s French Film Festival, consisting of six public screenings over three weeks, from March 27 to April 11, bringing French cinema to UTSA students.

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