The Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies had the honor of hosting the Consul Général Yannick Tagand accompanied by Cultural Attaché Nicolas Douay, on Thursday March 10th, 2022. Consul Général Tagand and Attaché Douay spent the day visiting with community members, and faculty and students of both French and European Studies before Tagand gave a presentation on the French presidency at the end of the afternoon.
The visit began at the UW-Madison French House where Consul Général Tagand and Attaché Douay met with several UW-Madison professors and local professionals with an interest in French and Francophone studies and culture. The two were joined by Gilson CEO Nicolas Paris, local French instructor and former AATF Wisconsin President Ellen Russell, French Department Associate Chair and Professor Joshua Armstrong, Professors Nevine El-Nossery (French and Middle Eastern Studies), Anne Theobald (French), Alain Peyrot (Emeritus Professor of Engineering), Jason Yackee (Law), as well as CIFS co-director Professor Gilles Bousquet and PhD student Tessa Archambault. Professor Theobald, the director of the French House, gave a tour of the residence followed by lunch overlooking Lake Mendota. After introductions and conversational exchanges, Consul Général Tagand shared aspects of his diverse international experiences as a French diplomat with the group. Cultural Attaché Douay offered insight on and suggestions for pedagogical collaboration with the French Consulat’s dynamic new cultural initiative, Villa Albertine.
Following lunch at the French House, Tagand and Douay visited with students of French 314, Professor Bousquet’s upper-level French course on intercultural communication and leadership. Consul Général Tagand discussed the value of diplomatic work and French language in the global arena. Attaché Douay provided details about opportunities for students to study and work in France through the French government’s TAPIF program as well as Campus France.
Professor Bousquet and Tessa Archambault then accompanied Tagand and Douay to the top of the Van Vleck building where they took in the view across campus to the Wisconsin State Capitol. Although it was a chilly afternoon, the view did not disappoint. A visit to the Van Vleck 9th floor observatory provided an even deeper appreciation of the UW campus surroundings as well as Madison’s unique urban and natural geography including its lakes. Professor Bousquet then invited Tagand and Douay to the CIFS office for an informational presentation on UW-Madison, giving details on its various departments, programs, degree offerings and student population. They remarked on some of the differences between the French and American university systems as well as the unique challenges and benefits that each approach offers.
The afternoon ended with Tagand’s visit to Professor Nils Ringe’s class in European Studies. Members of the campus community were also invited to attend Tagand’s presentation which focused on the French presidency and Emmanuel Macron. The lively Q&A session that followed included comments and questions from both students and members of the community who were curious to learn more about Tagand’s career in diplomacy. Ukraine was also an area of intense concern given the declaration of war and the Russian invasion of Ukraine one week prior to the visit.
Consul Général Yannick Tagand’s visit was an exciting opportunity for the French Consulate of Chicago to engage with University of Wisconsin-Madison and gain a more profound sense of how French and European Studies relate to the interests of American university students. It was also an opportunity to showcase some of the French Center’s relationships on and off campus. Cultural Attaché Nicolas Douay offered avenues for further educational outreach and exchange between the Consulate and both UW-Madison students and faculty. The visit was an enriching experience for all those involved.