2011-08-19 / Society

Les Amis welcomes you

By Anita Baker

Thomas Howell and Rose Mary Smith. Thomas Howell and Rose Mary Smith. The Les Amis French language group has been in existence in Columbia for over 20 years. Founded by the Columbia World Affairs Council, the group of has provided the opportunity for individuals to learn, practice, and improve their French conversation skills. Currently, Les Amis meets on every other Monday night at 6 p. m. at Goatfeather’s on Devine Street.

Josiane Hunter has been the group coordinator for Les Amis for the past 15 years. She was born in Paris, France, and met her husband who was serving with the American military in Fontainebleau, France. They moved to Columbia in 1965. Hunter says she had little opportunity to speak French with others while living in Columbia for many years before she found the group Les Amis. She now maintains the membership list of over 85 people and sends out email reminders for all group meetings and activities.

Members of Les Amis range from students and faculty from the University of South Carolina, French natives who have moved to Columbia, those who have traveled or studied in France, and anyone who may be interested in learning the French language. Many group members have met together for years, and there are always new members at each meeting. French is always spoken throughout the meetings, but new speakers are welcome and encouraged.

Donna Swinbank, Diane Knetzer, and Kate Reeves Donna Swinbank, Diane Knetzer, and Kate Reeves Kate Reeves is a graduate student in the Social Work program at University of South Carolina. She studied the French language in high school and college and traveled to France with an exchange program in college. After graduation, Reeves went back to France as a three month volunteer and then lived in Quebec for a year with the non-profit organization, ARC. She has been a member of Les Amis for several months giving her the opportunity to keep up with her French speaking skills.

Bill Reynolds and Christiane DeSouza Bill Reynolds and Christiane DeSouza Jean and Paul Denman have a vacation home in France and travel there every other summer. Jean Denman has recently completed the French 111 course at USC and has begun to meet with the Les Amis group to continue her study.

Donna Swinton was the coordinator of Les Amis for a few years before Josiane Hunter joined the group. Swinton studied French at Converse College and studied for five months in Avignon, France, and moved to Columbia after graduation with the goal of working for a French based international business.

The “Les Amis group shares a meal at a restaurant such as Goatfeather’s restaurant during their regular meeting time. The group also has traditionally met at Goatfeather’s restaurant in December for a traditional French Christmas meal including a yule log cake. Les Amis members have made trips to Charleston, S.C. together and participated in other international activities in Columbia throughout the year.

For more information about Les Amis, contact Josiane Hunter at Jhorton7@sc.rr.com.

Josiane Horton and Kaaren Niver Josiane Horton and Kaaren Niver

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