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Although the COVID pandemic presented us with quite a few challenges, it also offered us some unique opportunities! Isolated by working remotely, we decided to reach out to colleagues in the Tufts French Department, the Tufts in Paris Program, and the student-run Société Française to invite them to work with us on developing some virtual, French-themed events for the Tufts community.

It turned out to be a very rewarding collaboration, one that allowed us to get to know each other better while also giving us the opportunity to provide fun and interesting programming for Tufts students, faculty, staff, and alumni. “The French Coalition was an effective way to brainstorm ideas, support one another, and advertise for events,” adds Anne-Christine Rice, Senior Lecturer in the French Department. “It was also an opportunity for much-needed connections in this year of being apart.”

The efforts of our self-proclaimed “French Coalition” resulted in a number of French-themed activities throughout the course of the academic year, including:

  • Virtual visits of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Nouvelle-Aquitaine regions with Anne-Sophie Bonnal from Tufts in Paris
  • A panel of Tufts in Paris and Tufts in Talloires alumni in discussion about French studies, career development, and the TAPIF program
  • A virtual tour of Colette, a new pastry shop in Medford, including a Q&A session with the owner, Nathalie Beddiar
  • A visual art class led in French and focused on Monet with local artist and International School of Boston instructor Mohamed Saadi
  • Restorative yoga sessions led in French by yoga instructor Maïté Paillet van Lohuizen

Using the virtual platform allowed us to come together and bring programming to our communities in new and exciting ways. “The French coalition is a great opportunity to put France and French language and culture on the map, to participate in the internalization of the Tufts community, and to work closely with all our colleagues on either side of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Jeanne Fourneyron and Anne-Sophie Bonnal, the Tufts in Paris staff. “Tufts in Paris is very much looking forward to continuing the adventure and expanding it even more next year!”

We, too, look forward to continuing this collaboration!