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A "French Connection" With A Good Cause

From France-Amerique
By Fabienne Boulineau

"Small birds will become big." So goes a Chinese proverb. It could be applied to a generous project started by a young Frenchwoman, a 26 year-old who has been living in New York for three years.

"We are 50,000 French living in New York", explained Laëtitia Longuefosse, "half of us reside or work in Manhattan, and yet, we do not have a French community, only some dispersed groups that do not manage to meet."

With a mouse in one hand and her desire to help on the other, Longuefosse began her great adventure, to create an online network for French or French-speaking New Yorkers.

She sent twenty emails to her friends, and they sent them on to all on their mailing lists. This was enough to gather, in two months, 800 French or French-speaking people eager to meet and interact with their compatriots living in New York.

Laëtitia’s website, www.entrenewyork.com, a forum of discussion which brings ideas, answers, and information at the same time, is open to all French speakers, working or retired, French, Belgian or African, New York residents or those just passing through.

Divided into ten categories (work, kitchen, culture, studies, housing, restaurant, shopping, social life, exits and Internet), each Net surfer, once identified, takes part in the life of the website by joining the forums of discussion, announcing his/her discoveries, and helping build a real life community.

Laëtitia’s project is not only virtual; meetings, evenings, and picnics in Central Park are taking place. Exchanging smiles, business cards, language, and French culture, this network, which was sparked by just twenty e-mails, shows that the French living in New York are willing to find themselves. Those concepts of community, belonging, helpfulness, communication, and sharing, so often the panacea of the other expatriate nationalities in America, also holds true for the French.

Strongly motivated by her success, Laëtitia Longuefosse would like to go even further. With the support of the Franco-American Chamber of Commerce and the Consulate of New York, Laëtitia hopes to set up an online database for job offers and other demands for the French living in New York.

The future will tell us if this beautiful young lady’s dream will become reality. At the present, the adventure remains very exciting and Laëtitia is proud of her successes.

Translated From French By Elias Saber

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