HOUMA, La. (AP) — A French diplomat is working to build ties with French-speaking people in Louisiana in part through strengthening education programs.
Consul General Nathalie Beras, who is based in New Orleans, recently traveled to southern Louisiana to learn more about Native American tribes in that area and that meetings with other groups are planned as well as possible weekend French classes, Houma Today reported.
“Several hundred years ago, French people arrived here, and Louisiana was sold to Americans in 1803. So it was a long time ago, and we still share the culture and the language. Language is much more than only words, this is an identity,” Beras told the newspaper.
Beras and her team went to Isle de Jean Charles and Pointe-aux-Chenes and met with French-speaking members of Native American tribes during her outing that took place about two weeks ago. The newspaper said other meetings and visits are also being planned.
Representatives of Tele-Louisiane, a media company that works to preserve the French language and culture in Louisiana, were also along for the trip including the company’s CEO, Will McGrew. The company is working with the Pointe-au-Chien tribe to start weekend French classes for local children in the future. McGrew told the newspaper that the company is also ready to assist local school boards if they want to start French-language programs in their areas.
The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana helps promote the French language in schools by partially paying for teachers’ salaries.
Beras and her group also toured the waterways around Isle de Jean Charles, a small sliver of land in southern Louisiana that has seen its land slowly eaten away by coastal erosion.