It was truly magnifique!
The Ocean City Public Library hosted a French Language Conversation group on Monday afternoon and the event brought out about 10 enthusiastic participants.
Julie Brown, who develops adult programming for the Library, said the idea was to gather people interested in French culture to swap ideas and converse, learn about France and the language, and enjoy the company of a diverse group with a common interest.
“I am excited. I drove 25 miles to be here,” said Janet Williams, a resident of Cape May who has an upcoming trip scheduled to Paris. “I like France and I am contemplating a possible move there. This is a great opportunity for me to get back into speaking French.”
Monday’s initial meeting was less about speaking in French than discussing aspects of the country by the participants in English, but that could soon change. Brown said she hoped to develop different topics for future meetings. French food, cities, wine are a few possible examples.
“I see this group meeting at least once a month and possibly more,” she said. “The interest is here. This is a great turnout.”
Frank Douzieth, a native Frenchman and his wife Mary helped establish the group and enjoyed taking part in the gathering.
Frank at one point discussed French attitudes about dining. He said the evening meal was an event that could last hours, and while you can find McDonald’s franchises in Paris, the French generally people eschew the concept of fast food.
“In France when you like someone you want to get together over a period of time and a dinner could last four hours,” he said.
His wife said the couple, who currently reside in Ocean City, lived in France for four years. She said the group allowed them to re-connect with others who knew and enjoyed French culture, or who wanted to learn more about it.
Mary knew virtually no French when she initially met her husband, but has picked up the language over the years. “I don’t speak it well. I speak well enough to get by.”
For Doug Eberly, an assistant priest at Ocean City’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, is a frequent traveler who has spent the last eight New Year’s Eves in Paris. He previously studied French from a tutor, the late Pearl Warner, a scholar who helped develop the French curriculum in New York City public schools. He is looking forward to working on his conversational mastery of the language.
“This is an excellent, diverse group and very compatible,” he said. “It should be a great experience for everyone.”
There is no charge to attend group meetings and all skill levels are encouraged to take part. Light snacks are provided as are learning tools such as French-English dictionaries. It next meets Monday February 29 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. To learn more about the group, call Julie Brown at 399-2434, extension 5222.