e-Toile: Natasha Koblova, you are responsible for the branch of the French Alliance located in West Palm Beach. This structure was opened on April 15, 2010, in the presence of the Consul General of France in Miami, an adviser to the Assembly of French Citizens Abroad, the General Delegate of the French Alliance in the United States as well as the President of the French Alliance South Florida and a hundred Francophones and Francophiles. What is your assessment of these first two years of operation?
Natasha Koblova: It was two years of intense work to re-install the Alliance française in Palm Beach, because as you know, the Alliance had existed in the past.
At first, it was a lot of networking, interviews and meetings.
The Alliance is now a member of the Palm Beaches Chamber of Commerce, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, the Downtown Neighbourhood Association West Palm Beach and it works in partnership with the Downtown Business Development Authority.
This ensured the Alliance an immediate and active presence in the community of Palm Beach County.
The real challenge was especially the opening of French classes: the Alliance française provides classes for beginners to advanced students. Of course, it also offers conversation classes. We also had the opening of classes (or immersion camp) for young people because the demand was there and the Alliance wanted to respond, naturally.
Of course, all this activity has surrounded the Alliance with several friends and supporters who help in reinforcing its resence and activities.
e-Toile: In addition to courses in French, the West Palm Beach branch offers many educational and cultural activities. Which ones are most valued by the communities surrounding Palm Beach?
Natasha Koblova: The Alliance has effectively diversified its activities, between regular activities and more current activities, in accordance with current events.
On a regular basis, it offers guided tours in French at the Norton Museum (the second Saturday of the month) followed by a lunch / conversation, naturally in French; film screenings at the West Palm Beach Library (last Monday of the month) that draws an ever larger crowd and also helps to broaden the audience of the Alliance, the book club (the second Thursday of the month) that presents contemporary French literature - avid readers meet there to discover the new generation of French authors.
It is also worth mentioning the Alliance’s more festive, and always friendly gatherings of pétanque and crêpes-making classes, wine and liquor tastings, particularly, in partnership with St Germain liquors, who is participating in our second anniversary.
e-Toile: Speaking of which, can you tell us what you have planned to blow out your second candle?
Natasha Koblova: The idea behind this anniversary is to unite the French Alliance Family because it is indeed a family that is growing and expanding day by day. But it is not only the Alliance Family that is invited: everyone is welcome to the anniversary as it is open to one and all.
The Consul General of France in Miami, Gaël de Maisonneuve, will be honoring us with his presence, a new opportunity in and of itself for the Alliance to strengthen its links with the wider francophone community of Palm Beach County.
We will therefore focus on the friendly and festive side of this gathering in the sumptuous surroundings of the Chesterfield Hotel in Palm Beach that is opening its doors for us on this occasion. We will also be celebrating with French songs sung by the remarkable singer and guitarist Michelet and a demonstration / tasting of cocktails based on St. Germain liquors. No doubt there will be dancing!
Admission: FREE. Food and drinks (besides cocktail sSt Germain, which are free) are 15% off for the members of Alliance Francaise (pls present your membership card)
Where: Chesterfield Hotel, 363 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach