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French and German campus organizations combine to host Franco-German unity party

By Ethan Berceli

Section: News

November 21, 2014

The Brandeis French and Francophone Club teamed up with the Center of German European studies to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of World War I by hosting the Franco-German Unity Party on Thursday, Nov. 20, in the SCC Atrium.

Professor Sabine Von Mering, professor of German and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and director of the Center for German and European Studies, gave a brief welcome before the main festivities. She shared a brief anecdote about her German grandparents, who had grown up in the World War I era. They were raised being taught how awful the French were, and, as she emphasized, times have indeed changed. Today, French and German relations are worlds away from the scars and trauma suffered during World War I, and the event celebrated this progression as well as the boons that come with any cultural mixing.

The event was organized by the French and Francophone Club’s Vice President Samantha Way ’16. It was mainly centered around a movie, “Joyeux Noël,” which was shown in the SCC atrium. Couches were organized and chairs were assembled to provide an adequately large theater for the movie. Donuts, pretzels and soft drinks were provided, and students passing through filed in and out to see what was going on. Across from the pretzels and donuts were tables with information on French and German history as well as a whole host of pamphlets from study abroad programs. The pamphlets were not just about studying in France and Germany, but encompassed material on over 22 countries in Europe.

Studying abroad is an integral part of the French and Francophone club, and President Brandon Sousa ’16 believes that, in their short time, this has been extremely beneficial.

“With the club’s members, including most of our e-board, always either leaving to go study abroad or coming back from study abroad the club never lacks for new ideas,” he says. “People come and go from all different cultures, not just French culture, and always bring back new ideas and energy to the club.”

The movie’s title “Joyeux Noël” means “Merry Christmas” in French. The film was made in 2005 and is set during World War I. On Christmas Eve, the French and Germans agree to a short truce and celebrate the holiday together. The movie doesn’t just pit the French against Germans, but the many nationalities of all the soldiers making up the Allied Powers and the Central Powers. It shows that even during war, people have the capability to come together in peace, and the movie was a perfect selection to fit with the theme of the night.

The French and Francophone Club was chartered just last semester, but has wasted no time hitting the ground running. The Franco-German Unity Party caps off a semester full of events, most notably the French table event, a time and place where students can come, sit around a table and speak French to each other. The club’s mission is to promote French culture on campus.

“We always have food at our events,” Sousa says. “We’ve gone through a lot of cheese.”

Way describes the recent motivation behind the founding of the club.

“Before we [the French and Francophone Club] came into existence, there was no French presence on campus,” she said. “The last club that was similar to ours was active around 10 years ago. We wanted a place where we could do French things, speak together and eat together.”

Way says there isn’t a typical French and Francophone club member; the only thing everyone has in common is an interest in French and culture.

“Even on the e-board, there are so many different types of people,” she says. “People who don’t speak English as a first language, different nationalities, first-years, sophomores, juniors, seniors. It’s very eclectic.”

When asked where they see the French and Francophone club going in the future, Sousa and Way singled out the brand name reputation they want to cultivate, especially with the previously mentioned French Table. French club, with its culture, food and events, will only get more exciting.

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