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“French Cultural Day” held at PKU

MAR . 13 2018
Peking University, March 12, 2018: On March 9, “French Cultural Day” was held at PKU. Centering on the theme “French culture in China,” a series of events were presented, connecting PKU students to French language, literature, music and history.

French Culture in China—A Dialogue with Leïla Slimani

In the morning, “French Culture in China—A Dialogue with Leïla Slimani,” hosted by professor Dong Qiang, was held at the Sunshine Hall of Yingjie Overseas Exchange Center. Leïla Slimani is the winner of Frances’s most prestigious literary prize The Goncourt Prize (Le prix Goncourt) and also serves as French President Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language.

In her speech, Leïla Slimani explored to the history of the propagation of the French language. She encouraged students to learn French and communicate with France and other French-speaking countries.

Special guests who have a strong bond with the French language and French culture were invited. These guests were Xu Zhenhua of Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages, French Department Head of Wuhan University Wu Hongmiao, Operatic Soprano Huang Ying, PKU alumnus, winner of 2015 “Young Sprout (Jeune Pousse)” Prize of the Fu Lei Prize (Prix Fu Lei) Wang Mingnan, and Producer of CGTN (China Global Television Network)’s French contest (Les As du Français) Wang Botao. Each guest gave a speech highlighting his or her relationship with the French language. Also present was the Swiss Ambassador Dai Shangxian (Jean-Jacquesde Dardel), as Switzerland is also a French-speaking country.

Franco-Chinese Institute and Peking University—An Exhibition

At 2:30 in the afternoon, the inauguration of the exhibition “Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute and Peking University” was held at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology.

The Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute (Institude Franco-Chinois à Pékin) was founded in 1920 by Cai Yuanpei and others to promote Franco-Chinese communication and to introduce the French education system to China. Over the following 30 years, the Franco-Chinese Institute has cultivated many talented individuals in natural science, medical science, social science and liberal arts.

The Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute, however, disbanded in 1950. After it disbanded, the liberal arts section (Department of Literature, History and French) was incorporated into Peking University.

The Exhibition

The exhibition presented historical documents of this institute, including old photographs, a student card, books from the school’s library, etc.

Lecture on Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute

After the inauguration, lectures on the history and future of Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute were delivered at the Democracy Building. First, Duan Mumei, professor of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, reviewed the history of Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute and its relationship with Peking University.

Christine Cayol, French art critic and founder of Yishu 8 (Maison des Arts à Pékin), then shared her story. Cayol described her encounter with Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute as “fate.” After learning about the history of Beijing Franco-Chinese Institute, she decided to found an art center at the former site of the institute, aiming to carry on the tradition of the institute through the language of art. Since the founding of Yishu 8, Cayol has invited many young artists from France and China to exhibit their work. She said that she hopes to promote Franco-Chinese communication as well as the art market in China.

Cayol also encouraged students to learn French and to communicate with the world.

Huang Ying and French Melodies

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, a concert of French melodies was held at the Stanford Center at Peking University. The well-known Soprano Huang Ying, together with violinist Chen Xi, introduced the audience to the beauty of French music. The concert shows yet another aspect of the influence of French culture in China.

“French Cultural Day” marks the commencement of the 15th Peking University International Culture Festival. Furthermore, it is also a tribute to Peking University’s 120th anniversary.

Reported By: Xu Penghang
Edited By: Erin Dunne