A week-long tour of Canadian universities made Glendon its last stop, and the only one at a Southern Ontario university, on the 24th of February. Organized by the federal Department of External Affairs, 10 Francophone journalists from as many countries travelled from Montreal to Fredericton and Moncton and, finally, to Toronto. Their mandate: to explore these universities which offer the opportunity of a university education in French, and to report their findings to their readers.
Journalists came from all parts of the world, from Lebanon to Brazil, from Morocco to Vietnam, from Turkey to Tunisia. Of course, the major French-speaking European countries were represented as well: France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. As correspondents for widely-read publications, these journalists were here to assess what kind of reception international students receive when they arrive at one of these Canadian universities to study in French.
Glendon exchange student from Turkey, Derya Tarhan with Turkish journalist Deger Akal
Their questions were incisive, relating not only to the academic programs and courses, but also to student services and special programs designed to ease the difficulties any newcomer would experience in a strange country. Above all, they wanted to know whether these universities truly offer an opportunity to study and live in the French language.
The journalists were treated to a genuine Canadian lunch, including a buffalo meat tourtière and a cranberry-apple tart with maple syrup. By all accounts, the meal was a huge success. The visitors were joined at the lunch by several Glendon professors and international students. Visitors were seated with students and faculty from the same parts of the world, offering an informal opportunity to exchange information and impressions.
Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts’ warm welcome was followed by a brief overview of the academic excellence and research of the campus by Françoise Boudreau, Associate Principal (Academic Affairs and Research). The afternoon’s master of ceremonies, Françoise Mougeon, currently director of the MA program in French Studies at Glendon, navigated through the dense program with humour and aplomb. Later in the afternoon, Mougeon also offered insights into the international community at Glendon, and the formal and informal services in place to help students become bilingual.
Lebanese journalist Ziyad Makhoul with Glendon translation professor Marie-Christine Aubin (a native of France)
A brief presentation by Isabelle Creusot, Manager of Recruitment and Liaison, introduced the journalists to York University and Glendon, its basic facts, programs and services, as well as a sampling of Glendon’s Francophone students. She situated the Glendon campus within the multicultural metropolis of Toronto, and all that it offers. Creusot was followed by professor Aimé Avolonto, originally from Bénin (West Africa), currently teaching in Glendon’s French Studies department. Avolonto talked about the dynamism of the Canadian Francophone community, Canadian values of open-mindedness and the integration of cultural diversity as the basis of the Canadian educational system. He was also proud to show a short film created by his FSL (French as a Second Language) students, demonstrating their progress over one semester from knowing no French to conversing entirely in French.
The visit culminated in a tour of the campus, which included Frost Library, with a bilingual collection of close to 300,000 items; the Glendon Theatre – a site of numerous French-language and bilingual student productions; and GREF – Glendon’s on-campus French-language publishing house.
As the visiting journalists mounted their bus taking them to the last stop on their journey: TFO – Ontario’s French-language television station – there was a buzz of satisfaction with the afternoon’s program. Since each journalist will be writing a report on the trip and their experiences, it is hoped that Glendon will benefit by reaching out to potential students all over the world and letting them know that it is an excellent place for studying and living in French.
This article was submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny