Centenary students recognized by French language association

Kiley Simpson (left) and Marissa Ramsey (right) pose with CODOFIL executive director Peggy Feehan at the CODOFIL reception on February 22.

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary freshman Marissa Ramsey and sophomore Kiley Simpson traveled to Baton Rouge on February 22 to attend the opening reception for a special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of CODOFIL, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. During the ceremony, CODOFIL president William Arceneaux lauded individuals and organizations for their work in preserving and advancing French language and Francophone culture in Louisiana, including Centenary College.

“CODOFIL chose to highlight Centenary by pointing out some of the incredible work that our French department and professors have made possible, including Éditions Tintamarre,” said Simpson, a French and philosophy major from Shreveport. “They also recognized Marissa and me for publishing the French-language newspaper, Le Tintamarre. We were the only school in Louisiana to be mentioned.”

Éditions Tintamarre is Louisiana’s only French language academic press and Le Tintamarre is the state’s only student-run French language newspaper.

Ramsey and Simpson had the opportunity to meet and talk with CODOFIL president Arceneaux and executive director Peggy Feehan, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, and the Consul General of France in Louisiana, Vincent Sciama, among others. This experience was particularly meaningful to Ramsey, a New Iberia native who had the opportunity to study in CODOFIL-sponsored French immersion schools as a child. She is majoring in French and sociology at Centenary.

“The CODOFIL event honestly brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “Growing up, my French professors taught me that I could call France my home too. Being at an event surrounded by the people that made this childhood experience possible for me was very emotional. It is so important for young Louisiana natives to conserve the French culture here. It was an absolute honor to meet adults and children in Louisiana who love French as much as I do.”

Ramsey recenty joined Centenary’s new French-language honor society, La Legion d’honneur Louisianaise. Simpson serves as the current secretary for the group. Both students are active participants in the French Table, an informal weekly discussion to help students practice their spoken language skills. Simpson is also a tutor for the French department and lives in Le Quartier Français, a French-speaking wing of one of Centenary’s residence halls. She plans to study abroad in Lille, France, for the entirety of her junior year.

“Attending this event was a great way to represent Centenary as ambassadors of the College and of the French department,” said Simpson. “I love Centenary so much, and I love to be part of its outreach whenever I possibly can. This college has helped me to flourish, so it means a lot that I can give back by going to these events as a student, using my Centenary education to try to better the community and world around me.”

Simpson hopes to become a French professor and plans to take advantage of several CODOFIL training programs in pursuit of her career. She also hopes to be present for the eventual installation of French immersion schools in north Louisiana.

The exhibit, “CODOFIL: 50 Years of Activism,” will be on display at the Old State Capitol museum in Baton Rouge until December 15, 2018. It features bilingual text, images, and objects representing the work of CODOFIL and the influence of French on Louisiana culture. More information is available on the Old State Capitol website.