In an event, buzzing with burning wallets, European merchants, institutions and associations, we found ourselves completely surrounded and cornered. We were in good hands, being a co-exposition of the European Commission’s project: “Europe in Movement” and us being a caravan, you can imagine where this is going.
Besides the brouhaha of various languages in the background, and the chatter of lively youngin’s, we were indeed surrounded by anything and everything that had nothing to do with ‘International’ however the origin of the various products sold at each and every booth.
As ‘Caravane des langues’, we were putting a lot of effort into getting people to notice our booth, that was in the far corner of the exposition. Which lead us to draw people in. I decided on a more visual technique consisting in a small sign which read: “Do you speak a foreign language”?. Drawing on my best ear to ear smile, I dived in the crowd of seniors and teenagers. The verdict at the end of the day: many ‘no, I don’t’, ‘I’m not interested’ and finally some really forced smiles.
This brings me to think: what is wrong with the French and foreign languages? If we take a gander back into history, we have seen that the relationship has never been as chilly as today: It is said, that in the eighteenth century, a French person could speak on average three languages. Now, they content themselves with one, and some say that this one is difficult enough.
Now this brings me to our mission: my fellow associates and I understand that learning another language is frustrating, and can even be disappointing at times. But, hope is not lost. That is exactly what we were doing in the middle of European merchandise: trying to break the barriers of thinking that learning another language is for the most eloquent. That is why our president Daria put together her dream: “Caravane des langues”.
That beautiful first Saturday morning, we hopped our activities would open awareness: we had planned a conference with our 11 language speaking associate Sébastien and the ‘human library’. For those who find the first incredible, it is true: he does speak 11 languages. And placing aside the belief that after 18 our gray matter is no longer moldable, some studies have proved that when accustomed too, the brain can continue learning anything, even at the age of 80. As for the ‘human library’, it is not actually a library made out of humans, but a new interactive concept that brings two individuals together to share their experiences.
As for ‘Caravane des langues’? it will continue on its path, to wherever the wind of knowledge takes it. From towns, through mountain, to villages, forever mobile, it will continue to travel, to places near and far, with the only purpose of bringing the joy of learning another language to you.