Francophone Night draws large crowd

Almost two years ago Southeastern eliminated its French education and French language degree programs due to budget cuts, but the French classes and
French Club continue to thrive. The Francophone night, hosted by the French Club and instructor Aileen Mootoo, joined students from Mootoo’s and Marta Gumpert’s French classes to celebrate the rich French culture on campus. Mootoo aimed for giving the event an informal and relaxed atmosphere that would allow students to enjoy themselves and learn something new.
“Today was great,” said Angele Thibodaux, French club president. “Much more people showed up than I ever expected. Francophone night is just a way to have fun, eat some good food and learn about our French culture.”
Thibodaux and the Vice President of French club Alexia Plaisance are originally from Cut Off, La. The two, along with three other students from Cut Off, opened up Francophone night with a presentation titled “Down Da Bayou.” The group engaged the room by sharing stories of South Lafourche Parish’s food, Cajun French language and heritage. Thibodaux’s mother prepared two pots of homemade Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo and Mootoo brought a Moroccan dish, couscous, as Francophones are also found in Morocco.
“Francophone, it’s not really a term we use much in America,” Mootoo said. “It’s basically a French-speaking country or French-speaking person. Countries other than France that speak French include Madagascar, Hati, Belgium, Ivory Coast, Central to West Africa and Quebec.”
In Southeast Louisiana and on Southeastern’s campus the French culture is “so strong,” said Mootoo.
The second presentation was given by Nelly Traore and Ghislaine Scheers, two students originally from Ghana. Traore is a junior from Combs La Ville, France and Scheers is a sophomore from Meudon, France. Both are members of the Lady Lion’s soccer team, and love football back home. The Ivory Coast has nineteen regions and is on the northwest coast of Africa, between Ghana and Liberia, where natural cocoa originates. They showed many similarities between the Ivory Coast French culture and the creole culture. Both love to dine on crawfish and gumbo and to dance. Scheers taught everyone the azonto dance which originated in Ghana around the 2000s. The blended hip-hop and reggae African-inspired dance is upbeat and meant to be personalized. It involves hand motions, feet tapping and simple movements that allow the dancers to express emotions. Many left Francophone night with a full stomach and a full mind.
“This is the whole purpose of today, to let everyone know that the French [language] isn’t just spoken in France,” said Mootoo. “France is a very strong country, and its influence goes far.”