If you still have doubts about the strong friendship between France and the United States, take a look at the website of the French Heritage Society! This non-profit organization has raised $2 million for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris. Its francophiles members are fervent defenders of French culture and heritage throughout the United States.

We recently interviewed Thomas Célérier, a Board Member of the French Heritage Society (FHS), at its Northern California Chapter about the inaugural FHS Poetry Contest launched this year.

Thomas Célérier, tell us about the French Heritage Society in a few words.

The French Heritage Society, which celebrated its 40th-anniversary last year, is an American non-profit organization, founded in 1982, with 10 chapters in the United States and one in France.

Through our activities and educational program, we are dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and advocacy of French heritage in the United States and France (tangible and intangible).

Our mission is to ensure that the treasures of France’s architectural and cultural heritage survive for future generations through :

  • The preservation of French architectural and cultural heritage by raising funds for restoration, preservation, and cultural grants.
  • The transmission and safeguarding of skills, knowledge, and love of heritage through the establishment of transatlantic educational programs for students, architects, craftsmen, art connoisseurs, and collectors.
  • Actions to support friendship and intercultural exchange on both sides of the Atlantic.

For example, more than $2 million has been raised and donated for the restoration of Notre-Dame, and other funds have been dedicated to the reopening of the Richelieu National Library, as well as to the preservation of numerous monuments and places emblematic of French heritage in France and the United States. Each year, we also allow many interns to spend time in France and the United States as part of our activities.

Thank you for your actions! So this year, you are launching the first poetry contest for French and Francophone students on the West Coast of the United States?

French Heritage SocietyIndeed! Dori Bonn, Chairman of our Northern California FHS Chapter, and I, along with our Chapter teams, are organizing the 2023 Poetry Contest, aimed at French schools, French language schools, and French-speaking and Francophile students in the consular districts of the American West (Northern and Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Pacific Islands under American jurisdiction, Guam and Samoa).

As part of this, we would like to offer schools and students the opportunity to participate in this contest! Registration and participation are free and several prizes will be awarded to students, their classes, and their French language teachers for participating in the contest and, if selected, for receiving an award.

The categories are open to students in kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school, and their equivalent levels of French sections and classes in American schools. There will be several prizes for each category!

Project submissions (poems in verse or prose, in French) will be open from March 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023, for an awards ceremony in May 2023, to be held in San Francisco (with the possibility of videoconferencing accommodation if needed).

Several schools from San Diego to Seattle have already expressed interest in having their French classes and students participate, and we hope that this communication will generate even more interest among the parents of our young poets and our young poets themselves. So please feel free to talk about it with your schools and institutions, who will also be recognized at the awards ceremony!

Concerning the jury of the contest, we are currently completing its composition! It already includes many French teachers in the US and France, as well as patrons, local poets, and FHS members. We are also in contact with a publishing house, as well as AMOPA, the Association des Membres de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

We are very excited to launch this new initiative in 2023 as part of the development of FHS activities in support of poetry and the Francophonie. In fact, we hope to expand this contest to the entire US in 2024.

Tell us how to participate!

Nothing could be easier! From March 1, 2023, or even earlier for aspiring poets, until April 30, 2023, please submit your work (in French) by filling in all the required information via the following form:

Google Forms: Sign-in

And for any questions about the contest, here is a link to our FHS team

We look forward to reading the works of our young poets in our jury commissions.

Good luck to all and long live the FHS Poetry Contest!

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