Breaking Barriers

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Global Convergences and a More Inclusive Tomorrow

Article: Alexandra Mortensen – Contributor

*Francophonie, not having a true equivalent in the English language, francophonie refers to the collective of French speaking countries as well as the efforts to promote both the French language and the diverse cultures of French speakers.*

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference called Université d’été sur la francophonie des Amérqiues (Summer University on Francophonie in the Americas) held by the Centre de la francophonie des Amériques (The Centre for Francophonie of the Americas) at Campus Saint Jean of the University of Alberta. It brought together academics, students, professionals, and journalists from North and South America in order to celebrate the diverse cultures of French speaking people and to promote productive collaborations.

There were professors from Louisiana, Haiti, French Guiana, and Canada who presented their work in a variety of subjects, including linguistics, law, political science, sociology, anthropology, and international studies. Each lecturer presented different situations in which French is spoken and analyzed the concept of francophonie from a unique viewpoint. In one of my favourite presentations, a political science professor examined minority francophone communities Canada, the importance of social capital and how to encourage participation – something that was very relatable to my own experience with Canadian francophonie. This study in particular, but also all of the other presentations that week, were insightful and thought provoking, prompting participants to reflect upon their own culture as well as how it interacts with those of others. The conference also afforded participants the unique occasion to meet and talk with people from many different countries with many diverse backgrounds. Through these discussions we discovered interesting differences in our day to day lives but, more importantly, we discovered similarities. For example, I met a group of young Francophones from Louisiana who hold similar events to those of the young Francophones in Saskatchewan. It was incredible to learn that from the Canadian prairies to the Louisiana bayous there are people passionate enough about the French language to diligently work to preserve and celebrate it in predominately Anglophone environments.

Sharing our experiences and enthusiasm for francophonie brought a group of strangers from across the world together and helped us to develop global relationships that could prove invaluable to research projects and cultural initiatives in the future. Overall, it was an incredible learning experience; however, it also taught me about the possibilities that exist for transcultural and international convergences.

There is huge potential for people who are passionate about any number of different subjects to learn from and collaborate with others from across the world and it is encouraging to see this already happening in so many fields. In a world that is becoming increasingly technologically advanced, the hurdles that once existed preventing global communication are crumbling. Easily being able to share and obtain new perspectives could have incredibly positive impacts for today and holds the promise of a more open and accepting world tomorrow.

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