A Letter from Pierre Hudelot
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
After four years at the Délégation générale, the moment has arrived for me to say good-bye to the Alliance Française network in the United States.
First of all, I must tell you how much I will take away from this American mission, which has been so rich, both professionally and personally, and which has given me vivid images of a country that my wife and I greatly appreciate. It has been a time filled with enriching experiences, projects to enact, interests to defend, a directorship to strengthen, but also a time of meetings, of collaborations, of friendship with those of you who keep our Alliances running on a daily basis, board members who voluntarily consecrate their time and their skills to carry out our ideals, management teams and teachers who give their all. I wish to very sincerely congratulate and thank you for your work that is so generous and so appreciated.
The network of Alliances in the United States is a fascinating and diverse team: 132 chapters, including 60 teaching centers and 19 centres associés located at universities. The Délégation générale never stopped serving this rich ensemble, whether through the organization of events, the encouragement of non-teaching centers to offer their first language courses, or by providing teaching Alliances with the tools necessary to help them continue to grow. In a linguistic setting often described as unfavorable, or at least fiercely competitive, the Alliance Française in the USA attracts 26,600 students of French in 45 states, and has registered a 12% growth in its numbers over the past 2 years, 37% over the past 4 years.
These progressions are the fruits of our labor; the result of teamwork, which has included dialogues and synergies between the Alliances, the Délégation representing the Alliance Française of Paris, the Fédération des Alliances Françaises USA, and the Embassy of France.
Although independent and autonomous, the chapters of the Alliance are in effect an integral part of the French cultural mechanism abroad, from which they receive regular and substantial aid, as was the case these past years for Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Puerto Rico, and San Francisco. To supplement the ambitions of our alliances, the Délégation générale could count on the support of the Cultural Services and the French Embassy in Washington. I would like to personally thank for their help, their trust, and their vision, His Excellency Ambassador Levitte, Cultural Advisor Kareen Rispal, and the entire team of the Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle in Washington.
The Fédération des Alliances Françaises USA, which the Conseil d’Administrations considers to be an American friend of France and the Francophonie, represents one of the priorities of our actions, and has also largely contributed to the dynamic that has seen our network reinforce itself with a new unity and a new spirit of cooperation and understanding. Overcoming past divergences, the Délégation and the Fédération knew to embrace, together, the priorities of this network in the interest of all the Alliances to the benefit of their own standing. Nothing better illustrates the strengthening of our combined actions than the Protocole d’Accord that I had the honor to develop and sign last April with the President of the Fédération, Carole Crosby. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her talent, dynamism, and conciliatory efforts. I am certain that this new spirit of cooperation marks the beginning of a renewal for the Alliance in the United States.
The Délégation’s mission is to communicate and adapt abroad the founding ideal of the Alliance Française of Paris. Supported and clarified by Jean-Claude Jacq, the Secrétaire général, and Alain Marquer, the Director of International Relations, I am happy and proud to have led a strong Délégation in the United States, guided by a clear vision of the role of the Alliance in the cultural dialogue, and resolutely turned toward the challenges of the future. I extend my thanks to the entire team at the Délégation, Thierry Lagnau and Pascal Saura in particular, for having so efficiently carried out our priorities.
Our cultural offerings have doubled in four years, and have been available to all of the Alliances of our network as well as universities, French establishments in the USA, and the Canadian, Mexican, and Caribbean networks. In 2006-2007 there were no less than 14 lecturer tours, and eight performances in 49 cities, representing a nearly 75% growth in our activities in two years.
In the pedagogical domain, the network is structuring itself around an approach dedicated to the welcoming of students, the training of teachers, the attracting of new publics (AllianceEnfance as proof of that), and access to document resources (Projet MERLIN). The launching of AF FRAMES will also contribute to the strengthening of the spirit of the network which is necessary for the development of our Alliances, and has produced in 2006 alone 21training missions and three national pedagogical seminars to the benefit of some 250 directors and teachers.
In support and at the source of these increasing actions is the technological modernization of the Délégation générale, which I perceived as a priority upon my arrival in 2003. This modernization allows us to better communicate with our partners and to more directly help the chapters of the Alliance, which are dispersed across a territory the size of a continent. L’AF en bref and our website have also proved within two years that they are useful and efficient tools adapted to our needs. They are also valuable communication channels that have helped multiply the number of partnerships between this Délégation and other groups, for example, the World Affairs Councils of America, the Foreign Policy Association, the “Synergy” program of the Book Service, as well as Air France, the FIAP Jean Monnet, and most recently, Hachette.
I am, therefore, leaving the Délégation générale with the satisfaction of having completed a full mission, and a complete confidence in the future of our actions. It is with great pleasure that I announce to you the nomination of Thierry Lagnau to the position of Délégué général beginning September 1, 2007. Thierry comes to this position with a lengthy experience in the global network, a precise understanding of the United States, as well as professionalism and interpersonal skills that you have all come to appreciate throughout the past two years. His long record of work on cultural events represents the most eloquent manifestation of his qualities. With the support and collaboration of Pascal Saura, and the arrival of a new détaché who will succeed him as the person in charge of cultural questions, I am certain that Thierry Lagnau will be able to continue the recent successes achieved by the Délégation and, by listening to you, define the critical trends for the future of the USA network.
Again, I thank you all for these four years of work and of enjoyment,