As we celebrate le Mois de la Francophonie, Alliance Française de Jackson members share why they chose French or encourage others to study the language. Today, Charles LeBlanc shares his story.
Lost and Found
My grandfather Henri Pellessier’s family was made up of French immigrants who settled in South Louisiana at the turn of the 20th century. Consequently, French was my primary language prior to entering school. At that time most of my friends spoke French in the Cajun dialect which they learned from their Acadian parents.
The Cajun language seemed so much easier in expressing oneself, but my grandfather, Henri Pellessier, never accepted the Cajun or English Language. He would often correct the grandchildren saying: “Ici, nous parlons Français.” My teachers in the 1st and 2nd grades allowed us to speak some French but once we entered the 3rd grade we were forbidden to speak French while on the school grounds.
In 1940 our family move to central Louisiana where there were few Acadians and no one that I knew spoke French. After I left home I occasionally visited with my mother and we would talk in French. When she died I gradually lost (forgot) the French I had once spoken as a child.
Following my retirement, my friend Anne Fraser asked me to join the recently formed Alliance Française de Jackson chapter, a member of the international Alliance Française organization. I have served on the AFJ Board of directors since 2001, including as past Vice President and past Secretary. I am very thankful for the many fine friends I have made as a member of AFJ. They have given me the opportunity to find (regain), in part, the French language that I spoke during my childhood. Through the AFJ conversation groups I have been able to improve my French vocabulary and grammar.
Photo: Charles leading an Immersion Day session, telling about growing up in Acadiana