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Blooming Franco-Taiwan Cultural Exchange: TLB and Alliance Française de Taïwan Hold Collaborative Events

  • PublishTime:2024-03-29

By Wu Tsung-You,  Peng Chien-Sen, Translated by Gregory Laslo

In 2023, the Taiwan Literature Base and the Alliance Française de Taïwan collaborated to organize French picture book storytelling events. This year, TLB and the Alliance Française are taking their cooperation to new heights, holding a series of activities to celebrate Mois de la Francophonie (French Language Month) in March. The well-received French picture book storytelling events will also be returning from April through August.

The Alliance Française is an international non-profit organization established in Paris in 1883 with the goal of promoting the teaching of French and Francophonie culture. There are currently over 800 offices, spread out in more than 100 countries. Thanks to generous support from Director Laurent Vergain, TLB and the Alliance Française deepened their international cultural exchange by holding the first series of French picture book storytelling events last year, pairing TLB’s regular storytelling activities with a fresh new cultural experience. 

The events had barely been announced before being enthusiastically received beyond all expectations. To complement the special exhibition being held at the time, “Beyond Anthropocentrism: Animals in Taiwan Literature”, event speakers selected original French picture books featuring animal protagonists, such as J’aurais voulu and Un lion à Paris (both of which have been translated into Mandarin), as well as La longue marche des doudous and Noël (currently yet-to-be translated). The first event drew in Taiwanese children who had studied in France and children from French-speaking countries living in Taiwan. The speakers’ vivid interpretations alongside a familiar language created a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Aside from the French picture book storytelling events, the TLB and the Alliance Française have worked together to plan a series of lectures in March, inviting many esteemed speakers, such as graphic artist Florent Chavouet, who also attended this year’s Taipei International Book Fair; Olivia Rosenthal, winner of the Prix du Livre Inter; and Roudy Stanley Penn, Ambassador to Taiwan from diplomatic ally Haiti. Mr. Chavouet has also stayed as a writer-in-residence at the Taiwan Literature Base by invitation of the Bureau Français de Taipei. During his lectures, Chavouet used drawings from his works to guide audiences on an impressive tour of the colorful streets of Asia. Ambassador Penn and Ms. Rosenthal both gave lectures at the end of the month. The former spoke on the political history of Haiti and the current crisis around the dissolution of Parliament, while the latter discussed bilingual readings of novels about Alzheimer’s disease. These events allowed audience members to better understand the culture and trends of the Francophonie community.

Taiwan’s Mois de la Francophonie (French Language Month) has always been a very successful cultural promotion event. Director Laurent Vergain emphasized that establishing multi-level cultural collaboration is the core mission of the Alliance, making NMTL an ideal partner to coordinate cultural exchange activities and attract new audiences. NMTL hopes to continue working alongside the Alliance Française de Taïwan and the Bureau Français de Taipei. Aside from fostering a closer relationship between the two organizations and the TLB, this will also facilitate future cooperative projects and bridge the distance between French and Taiwan literature.