One group in Vermilion Parish wants to take celebration and preservation of French language and culture beyond the walls of museums and immersion schools, incorporating it into every day.
"The organization is called Les Amis du Francais en Vermilion, which of course means friends of French in Vermilion Parish," says Warren Perrin, a supporter of Les Amis and the Chairman of the Board of the Acadiana Musuem. Perrin is also an author and past president of CODOFIL.
Layla Melancon, who is the director for the new organization, say she saw a need for a group like this when she started researching her own roots.
"Vermilion Parish is in the top 3 parishes in the state of Louisiana for the highest number of French speakers and for me that just identifies a need to preserve that heritage and that culture that is so strong here in the parish," says Melancon.
In her family, French immersion schooling provides a special link between the present and the past.
"My youngest one that's in there now, she just loves being able to speak to my mom and my nieces, all the ones that were in the French program," shares Melancon.
Perrin says he wants young people oto feel proud of their heritage. He's working to undo the suppression of this culture that lasted for years.
"I was brought up to be ashamed. I was told not to speak French publicly. It was part of me, yet made to feel ashamed. Such a critical part of your makeup as a human being- your native language," says Perrin.
Looking forward to speaking French with friends and strangers, Les Amis will host Erath's first French Table on Friday, June 25th, at Café Erath, at 10:00am.
"Young, old, any skill level, all dialects. Any french at all. It's a time to come together, have fun, speak french, even reminisce stories about our french culture, past or present. we encourage anyone to come participate," says Melancon.
She's also encouraging anybody who is interested to join Les Amis du Francais en Vermilion.
There is an annual $10 fee for members, and it is tax deductible. These funds will go toward
funding experiences for French immersion students, inside and outside of the classroom.
For more information on becoming a member of Les Amis du Français en Vermillon, email Layla Melancon at email@example.com.