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Knowledge is a Powerful Gift

Tears came to my eyes when I read the article in Monday’s New Orleans Times Picayune.

France announced that nearly $1 million is being gifted to Louisiana to help recover from Hurricane Katrina. $431,000 to the state’s schools, another estimated $500,000 held in reserve by a foundation acting on behalf of the government, approximately $151,000 to go to three New Orleans schools recently reopened that have special French-language programs (Audubon Charter School, the International School of Louisiana and Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle-Orleans), another $280,000 will go to other Louisiana schools on the basis of $100 per enrolled student.

The money is earmarked for use to improve facilities, purchase educational equipment and materials, books, software and other viable necessities. All this is a reinforcement of the program known as CODOFIL, The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, created in 1968, to promote the teaching of French.

Katrina struck New Orleans, but it struck the hearts of the French, too. The government asked the French American Cultural Exchange Foundation in New York to create a special fund and a committee of educators was appointed to review applications. Decisions made last week will be presented to the foundation, which is planning to send money directly to each school.

The fund has received contributions from individual cities and towns in France and the United States. Lagardère French publishers will also contribute more than $150,000 for educational materials and music-related projects in Louisiana. The balance of the funds will be held from requests coming from schools intending to reopen next school year.

This is one of the best Christmas gifts I can think of…Louisiana needs every penny it can get to rebuild and revitalize itself. It’s a generous showing of support and from my point of view, there is no better place to put it than education.

English philosopher, statesman, and essayist Francis Bacon (1561-1626) coined the phrase “Knowledge is Power,” then sexy “Matty” (played by Kathleen Turner) in the film “Body Heat” told her lover “Ned,” “My mother told me knowledge is power.” I’ll never forget hearing her utter that line in her deep, raspy voice and taking to heart at that moment how true it is — how much better this world would be if we could raise the level of education in every corner of it.

In both the spirit of learning and support for New Orleans, my team and I will be meeting up this coming May 26 – 28 in Nouvelle Orléans for the Living and Investing in France Conference. The Sheraton New Orleans has replaced its windows and refurbished the hotel back to its originally beautiful standard and is welcoming us with open arms. The second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, Tujague’s, on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, already has us booked for the entire main dining room on the upper level for our Saturday night group feast. We’re lining up the speakers and putting together the program now for an intensive three days of learning just how to live and invest in France in the richest ways, in all senses of that word.

As we wind down to Christmas Day and the first night of Chanukah this coming Sunday, as we celebrate birth, life and miracles, I will be giving thanks for the relationship we still hold with the French who gave birth to my native Louisiana and who still feel a maternal responsibility to its livelihood.

Happy Holidays to All. A la prochaine…

Adrian LeedsEditor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. To learn more about the conference in New Orleans and our conference this coming March 17 -19 right here in Paris, visit /frenchproperty/conference/index.html

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