FRANCOPHONES around the globe are gearing up to celebrate the French language and Francophonie Week — Semaine de la Langue FranÃ§aise et de la Francophonie.
The event, created in 1998 as International French-speakers Day — JournÃ©e Internationale de la Francophonie — was a day set aside which the French-speaking world — some 220 million people across 33 countries on five continents — celebrated their common bond, as well as embrace their diversity.
Here in Fiji from March 18-22, the French Embassy and the Alliance FranÃ§aise de Suva (French Language and Culture Centre) will join in events organised to promote, encourage and celebrate the French language.
These include public French film screenings at the Fiji National University and University of the South Pacific, private French film screenings at Suva Grammar and Marist Brothers High schools, and as well as movie, quiz and cocktail nights," said Alliance FranÃ§aise director GaÃ«lle Le Breton.
"It is a great time to not only celebrate the French language and culture, but increase the local community's awareness and appreciation of the French-speaking world."
French is the only European language offered as a course at FNU and USP, as well as Suva Grammar and Marist Brothers High schools.
A statement said with the advancement of globalisation and its resulting opportunities for Pacific islanders, the ability to speak French was an added bonus.
As reiterated on many occasions by French Ambassador Gilles Montagnier: "French language studies are essential for anyone looking to broaden their horizons and opportunity base.
"There is currently an increasing number of Fijians and Pacific islanders living and working in France and Europe right now — from professional rugby players and military personnel to United Nations employees and diplomats."
French is one of the official languages of the United Nations; and, apart from France, is also the official language of 32 states and spoken by 220 million people worldwide — a figure that will continue to increase globally.