For Francophiles, the Alliance Française of Greater Orlando is a key venue for sharing [fr]
Thanks to the work and energy of all these people, AFGO is a great platform to exchange for all Francophiles in Orlando and its surroundings. I am particularly proud of the reputation of reliability and conviviality that it has acquired among residents of Central Florida!
e-Toile : Mr. Bernard Loddé good morning. For several years, you have been the President of the Alliance Française of Orlando. Could you introduce yourself and tell us the reasons of having chosen to represent this organization?
Bernard Loddé : I decided to live in Orlando in 1983 when I started my consulting firm in High Technology. I joined the Alliance Française of Greater Orlando (AFGO) in 1990. In 2003, with the prospect of leaving for retirement, I decided to dedicate more time to AFGO and its missions.
Indeed, despite having spent a good part of my life outside France, I am very attached to my French roots. It occurred to me that the vast network of Alliances was a powerful platform to promote French and the French culture. So it is with great pride that I have assumed the presidency for the past 11 years.
Moreover, and more personally, I do not have a temperament to stay idle. Managing the AFGO allows me to stay very active, both intellectually and physically, especially through daily contact with all of our teachers, members and supporters!
e-Toile : This Alliance, which will soon celebrate its 40th anniversary, not only organizes French classes but also many cultural and social events. Can you describe the public you have for these classes, and could you also tell us the different types of events you offer?
Bernard Loddé : The AFGO was created in 1959 as a Club within Rollins College.
It became independent in 1975, so it has actually been more than 55 years in Orlando!
Since the early 2000s, our organization has experienced a very significant growth, both in terms of teaching French as well as organizing cultural and social events for our members, students, and supporters.
The two –events and classes- are actually very complementary because the participants are always excited with the idea of interacting with French natives!
At the school, our courses are for children aged 4 to 16 years and for adults. We reach a diverse audience in terms of origins, with a sharp increase of Hispanic students in recent years.
For children, the classes are based on age groups, maturity and, for some, by prior knowledge of some elements of French language.
They are fun for the little ones and become more academic for teens and adults. The success of our school is based on two major advantages: firstly, that all our teachers are native French speakers, and secondly, that we adapt our programs.
We propose, indeed, very flexible arrangements in terms of schedules and levels. Moreover, the number of students allows us to cater more closely to everyone’s expectations: from conversation, to more conventional courses, passing through specific business needs and even exam preparations.
As for events, we offer a wide variety to satisfy the diversity of audiences. We organize about thirty events a year. Some are monthly events (movie nights, picnics, “pétanque” games), others are major events such as Bastille Day, Beaujolais Nouveau or Christmas, and I have to add lectures and art exhibitions.
e-Toile: Could you introduce us your team and tell us more about the relationships that your staff nurtures with members and residents of Greater Orlando ?
Bernard Loddé : Over the years, we have structured and strengthened our organization at 4 levels:
The Board of Directors, of which I am the President. It has 6 members in total, each with a specific mission.
The teaching staff (6 in all);
Specialists (IT / Telecommunications, school coordination, communications, mailings)
Volunteers who give us an invaluable aid.
Members, supporters and students (with a total population of about 600 people) all benefit from this organization that mobilizes more than twenty people, as part-time employees, however.
Thanks to the work and energy of all these people, the AFGO is a place of privileged exchange for all Francophiles in Orlando and its surroundings. I am particularly proud of the reputation of reliability and conviviality that it has acquired among Central Florida’s residents!
e-Toile : Mr. Loddé, on September 4th, 2014 you have been awarded the insignia of Knight of the Order “des Palmes Académiques”. What does this recognition represent to you?
Bernard Loddé : In October 2013, I was surprised to receive a letter from the Embassy of France in the United States announcing my nomination.
As I have never solicited anything in this regard, I immediately suspected that members of the AFGO had proposed me to the Honorary Consul of France in Orlando in order to get my distinction after the results I obtained following my ten-year-presidency.
I am grateful to them and I hope to be able to contribute for some time to the development of the AFGO in Central Florida.
e-Toile: If you had a message to convey to all those who appreciate the French language and culture, what would it be?
Bernard Loddé : As message, I would use the words of Claude Levi-Strauss, the famous French anthropologist who said: "A world in which only one language would be spoken, would be a world of appalling loneliness."
Article published October 14, 2014.