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A day of Francophonie at IP Paris

03 Apr. 2024
On March 19, 2024, IP Paris' International Center for French Language and Culture organized an International Francophonie Day at École Polytechnique. This was an opportunity for international students to discover a special guest, French-Algerian writer Kamel Daoud, participate in workshops and present their work on the theme of "Diversity, climate and the French-speaking world".
A day of Francophonie at IP Paris

As part of the French Language and Francophonie (French-speaking Communities) World Week, IP Paris' International Center for French Language and Culture organized an International Francophonie Day on March 19, 2024, for the second consecutive year. The event took place at the École Polytechnique.

"Francophonie is not a defense against English, and in a scientific school, this point takes on particular meaning," declared Thierry Coulhon, acting Chairman of the Board of Directors of Institut Polytechnique de Paris, in his opening speech. 

"IP Paris's mission is to build on the five prestigious engineering schools - École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris and Télécom SudParis - to become a world-class science and technology institute, one that is open to the international community and thus welcomes international students", he reminded the audience. 

 With 41% international students, so this day was particularly aimed at them. Among other activities, they were introduced to Kamel Daoud, winner of the 2015 Goncourt Prize for first novels, and his intimate relationship with the French language.


The Franco-Algerian writer and columnist had chosen to dialogue on the theme of "The Islander and Writing". He explained a mysterious association he had chosen to explore. "Between the Arabic language, used to discuss God, religion and the martyrs of the Algerian War of Independence, and my mother's language, another language of expression, there was the possibility of a third language, a small space between the law and reality, an imaginary space of my own", explained Kamel Daoud, born in 1971. The writer emphasized the personal journey that the French language represented for him, "a language of transgression, of freedom, a profoundly erotic language for me."

When asked about the significance of holding this Day of Francophonie at Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Kamel Daoud replied, "I'm at Institut Polytechnique because I enjoy engaging with a diverse audience, I appreciate thinking aloud. Interacting with a different audience prompts a distinct demand and consequently, a different perspective on the same themes, linguistic or otherwise. Language is a passionate subject."

A passion for language and its subtleties, albeit approached from different and older perspectives, was also central to the first lecture titled "Le Mystère de la Lettre H" (The Mystery of the Letter H). 

Jérôme Perez, an astrophysicist, professor at ENSTA Paris, and researcher at the Applied Mathematics Unit, scrutinized the misinterpretation of the initial H in a physics book authored by Joseph-Louis Lagrange. This 18th-century mathematician wrote in French. "The H was not an homage to the Irish physicist William Rowan Hamilton (who, incidentally, lived much later than Lagrange), as was long believed, but rather a tribute to the Dutch mathematician Christian Huygens," elucidated Jérôme Perez. The astrophysicist concluded that the misunderstanding stemmed from an Englishman's mistranslation of Lagrange's word.


In the latter part of the day, themed around "Diversity, Climate and the French-speaking World", students were encouraged to take part in workshops and showcase their readings and projects.

Students from ENSTA Paris crafted posters on ecology and nature, while those from the Formation Préparatoire focused on the French-speaking world. Meanwhile, students in the 2nd year of the Polytechnic cycle composed texts centered on nature.