FACE Foundation

Supporting French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts

French Heritage Language Program

News on the FHLP

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Bravo to our graduating seniors

As the school year comes to an end and we are all struggling with this new normal created by the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when our values and humanity are tested and some of us have more questions than answers, we are bringing you stories of resilience, success and hope from the most unexpected place. These stories are coming from our students, all English Language Learners (ELLs) in the NYC public schools, one of the groups the most impacted by the pandemic because of an unequal access to resources and language barriers among other things.

“Never ever give up before reaching your destination”.

They’ve not only disproportionately struggled with the disease in their families and communities but they also found themselves suddenly stuck at home with their parents and had to mourn the loss of the sense of community that comes with being in a school building. They had to figure out distance learning, they had to find quiet spaces to study and adjust to distance learning while sometimes working; some of them having to take care of their younger siblings or helping their parents. Many of them had to wait weeks to receive a computer or an Ipad borrowed from the DOE to then try and find a reliable internet connection.

“I learnt that people will forget what you say, they will forget what you tell them but they never forget how you made them feel.”

Despite all of that, many of them are graduating this week from high school. Arrived in this country 4 years ago and less, they grappled with the reality of being in a new country with a culture at the antipodes of what they’ve always known; they had to learn a new language at the speed of light and navigate the complex American college admissions system. 

“Live your dreams not your fears”.

They are going to community colleges, CUNY schools but also private institutions like Purchase College, Francis College, Skidmore College and NYU.

“Nothing ought to be easy in life. When we suffer, we recognize the value of our gains/victories. Be brave and strong because success is near.”

We want to put a bright light on them and their stories because they are truly inspiring. We saw them once or twice a week in their schools and in their own words, “made them feel at home”, giving them a space to be themselves, speak their languages and see the beauty and the power of their multilingualism.We cannot wait to see what they are going to do next.

“Becoming a humanitarian is something I’ve always dreamt of when I was younger, I wanted to be a “Doctors without Borders” in war zones or regions affected by pandemics. I really want to help people but not in hospitals; I don’t want sick people to come to me, I want to go where they are and meet their needs.”

If you are inspired by these stories and you want to help us support more students, click on the button below and donate to the FHLP.



Agnès Ndiaye Tounkara
Program Coordinator