Glendon receives high marks from international francophone press

York University’s unique bilingual campus was the subject of international scrutiny on Feb. 24. Ten francophone journalists ended their week-long tour of Canadian universities at Glendon. The journalists, who are all correspondents for major international publications, came from a variety of different countries including Lebanon, Brazil, Morocco, Vietnam, Turkey and Tunisia. The major French-speaking European countries were represented as well including France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Their trip, organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, was designed to explore Canadian universities which offer the opportunity of a university education in French. The journalists visited Canada to assess what kind of reception international students receive when they arrive at a Canadian university to study French.

Right: Turkish journalist Deger Akal (left) speaks with Derya Tarhan, a Glendon exchange student from Turkey

Having visited universities in Moncton, Fredericton, Montreal and finally Toronto, the journalists’ 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.

During their visit to Glendon, the delegation was 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 and 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 welcomed the journalists. Françoise Boudreau, Glendon’s associate principal academic affairs & research, gave a brief overview of the academic excellence and research of the campus. The afternoon’s master of ceremonies, Françoise Mougeon, currently director of the MA program in French Studies, offered insights into the international community at Glendon, and the formal and informal services in place to help students become bilingual.

Left: Lebanese journalist Ziyad Makhoul (left) chats with Glendon 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, with information about 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 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, before they departed on a bus that would take them to the last stop on their journey — a visit to TV Ontario’s French language television station TFO.

This article was submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny