French Club offers immersive experience

Dean Barry

The first thing you notice when you enter room IS-7 for French Club is the food. A spread of baguette slices, croissants, Brie, Nutella, madeleines, various citrus drinks, and—most coveted of them all—a container of coconut rice tantalizes your eyes as it lies, ready for consumption, on a table in the corner.

But French teacher and club sponsor Theresa Monye stays your hand.

The food must wait: first, the meeting kicks off with a brief prelude, be it discussing the news of the club or, in this case, what Christmas is like in France. The clubbers sit in a circle and have a light conversation. Then Monye says the word and a horde of hungry high schoolers surge towards the table of French foods. The coconut rice, homemade by Monye herself and ever-mysterious in its recipe, is so desirable that Monye must dish it out herself lest it be gone after the first few students in the line.

However, by no means is the delectable food the only feature of French club that draws people in again and again. Club officer Nicolas Kamel sheds some insight on what else the club has in store.

“We come here, we immerse ourselves in French club, we eat, we listen to French music, we watch French movies, play French games… it’s a good time,” said Kamel.

 In order to further create a French-immersive atmosphere, the club engages in some sort of activity. And what better holiday-themed French activity is there than to make les bûches de noël or “logs of Christmas,” and better known as yule logs in English? These are cylindrical cakes slathered in frosting and brightly decorated to give the impression that they are fairy Christmas logs. In the latest French club meeting, members made mini versions of these festive treats.

And so, the food table was adorned with an unfamiliar addition: a stack of boxes of swiss rolls and containers of frosting. Students grabbed a roll and some frosting and got to work. They coated the cake with chocolate frosting, then ran the prongs of a fork over it to give it the natural grooves of a log.

Finally, they gave it a smattering of sprinkles. The result was a delicious, and of surprisingly high quality, bûche de noël, which would transport the eater into France upon eating, if only for a minute.

Thus ended the club meeting, 45 minutes long, from 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. It felt like a blur to the members. Filing out of the door, some with yule logs to take home, the students felt content—perhaps the energy dose they needed to take on finals week.

Although the entertainment of the meeting might be taken for granted by some, the club exists thanks to the work of a few dedicated people. Monye, as sponsor, feels strongly about French, and takes pride in the club.

“In any continent you go to except Antarctica, French is spoken. Why not take advantage of that?” said Monye about learning French. “At every Olympics, English and French [are spoken]. Those are the official languages of the Olympics. What about getting a job? What about doing business? You can do any business in any continent where you go to because French is spoken.”

Still, the club has not perfected its art of public relations. While Latin Club puts up signs around the school, traces of French Club are not visible around the school. As a result of this, many students are unaware of the opportunities of French Club.

“I do not know anything about French club,” said freshman Shen Dynes.

There are many reasons people join French Club. Some join for the food, others for their friends, and others still for their college application. Club attendee Catherine Opsahl joined for the immersion.

“I want to be immersed more in the French culture, which I haven’t really been able to since I stopped taking French,” said Opsahl.

Once students joined French club—even tentatively—they were immediately hooked. Seniors can be seen enjoying coconut rice just as sophomores do. Some even last long enough to attain leadership roles there, as president Emily Brown did.

“I joined French club because I knew they ate a lot of good food so I joined. Madame Monye was like, ‘who wants to be president?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, this would look good on my applications!’ And also it would be fun,” said Brown.