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UMFK French Immersion Camp students learning about local culture during Acadian theme days

July 18, 2003

NR03113

The popular French Immersion Camp for children is once again being sponsored by the University of Maine at Fort Kent. The weeklong event features an introduction to the French language and French culture of the Saint John Valley.

Among the themes to be explored are ployes making, rug braiding, contra-dancing, candle making, foot tapping, and spoons. Students will integrate visits to cultural and historic sites with art projects, games, and cooking.

The goal of the summer program is to introduce the students to a minimum of 20 new French vocabulary words each day. The words will be learned through a number of field trip visits, during daily singing exercises, and art activities.

Field trips include the Bouchard Family Farms in Fort Kent, the Acadian Village in Van Buren, and a candle making museum and shop in Edmundston, New Brunswick.

Lise Pelletier from Fort Kent will teach the French Immersion Camps for the fifth time with the help of Carlene Levesque, from Madawaska.

Pelletier earned a Master's of Arts Degree in Acadian Literature at the University of Maine and is the director of Le Club Français. She plans to pursue a PhD in Acadian Literature and language retention.

Levesque is a secondary education student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and grew up speaking French with her parents.

"Language is the primary vehicle of a people's culture. It is intrinsic to a person's sense of identity and belonging," said Pelletier. "Here in the Saint John Valley, we are proud of our French Canadian heritage, be it Québécois or Acadian. We are also proud of having preserved our French language."

"Franco Americans comprise approximately forty percent of Maine's population and have made great contributions to our state's history and economy," said Pelletier. "It is therefore important to celebrate ourselves and to transmit our culture to the younger generation."

The UMFK French immersion camp will conclude in Fort Kent on July 25. MBNA is a major contributor to the Fort Kent Camp along with Le Club Français and the Association Canado-Américaine who are contributing $500 and $250 respectively.

A second immersion camp will be held in Madawaska between August 4 and August 8, at the Madawaska Elementary School. Pelletier is looking for sponsors for the Madawaska camp. Le Club Français will pay $20 of the $50 fee for the Madawaska participants.

Registrations are still being taken for the Madawaska Camp. For more information or to register, contact UMFK's academic outreach office, at 834-7835.

Note to Media: Monday, August 4 has been identified by the instructors as the better day for media (picture and schedule-wise) Therefore, we will be holding a media day on Monday, August 4, at 12:30 p.m. at Bouchard Family Farms on Route 161 in Fort Kent. Please call Gerry Robinson at 834-7557 for specific details and directions.