A new team at BEF

“The mind of a painter should be like a mirror which is filled with as many images as there are things placed before him.” Leonardo da Vinci

This insightful quote from Leonardo da Vinci reminds me of the first time I spoke with our founder, Marie-Thérèse François-Poncet, who explained to me that she decided to set up this organisation nearly 40 years ago (1979) in order to encourage openness, interaction with people from different cultures, social relations and plurality.

The mirror that da Vinci is referring to is your own, the one that BEF, its volunteers and its teams strive to fill year in, year out, in order to open the door for each and every one of you to France; our own France, this richly diverse and welcoming country, a single nation made up of multiple regions that maintain their deep-rooted traditions, fascinating history and unparalleled heritage.

One of the unavoidable ingredients for openness is communication. Therefore we have decided to improve the accessibility of our newsletter by publishing it in both French and English from now on, so as to spread our message to a wider audience.

Furthermore, our new Instagram account (bienvenue_en_france_assoc) will allow those who do not yet master the French language to stay informed of BEF’s many activities and get a feel for the overall atmosphere through the photos posted on the account.

I have taken over this position from Christine Faure, who was President at BEF for four years (after having previously held the role from early 2006 to the end of 2007). She has certainly left me some big shoes to fill, given how much BEF has benefited from her passionate commitment and personality. Her efforts have helped enhance and improve our work and numerous activities. BEF owes Christine a lot, and I know I will be able to count on her wholehearted support in the years to come, as well as help from the fantastic team I have around me. I cannot fail to notice the commitment and generosity you show each day.

The typically French word “accueil” – an elusive blend of hospitality, benevolence and acceptance so hard to convey in other languages – is also central to our efforts at BEF, and perfectly describes our team of volunteers, who have all the necessary qualities to ensure a warm welcome to all our members while organising a diverse, inclusive range of activities that will satisfy all tastes and interests. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again!

Before going into any further detail about the programmes we have developed for you this year, I would like to remind you that our offer can but be enhanced by you, our members and benefactors, giving us feedback and suggestions as to what you would like to learn more about in France. In other words, openness can only be achieved through interaction, and we are counting on your involvement and implication to enable us to make you feel as at home as possible.

On a final note, and in the spirit of openness to the world and others, I would like to wish you all, members, benefactors, and your families, a very happy and healthy 2018.

Amanda Gourdault-Montagne