To conclude this series celebrating the 50th anniversary of CODOFIL, I would like to ask you a riddle: Find the intruder among Argentina, South Korea, Poland, Louisiana and Ukraine. If I asked you which country was not an observer member of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), whose members include France, Canada and Belgium, which one would you choose? Against all odds, the correct answer is Louisiana. Astonishing, no? Despite a French-speaking population, a state agency dedicated to the French language, French immersion programs, radio programs, a musical production sung in French and its presence at several Francophonie summits as a special guest, Louisiana is not, in the eyes of the OIF, a French-speaking country. However, until now, if we had a place at the table, it was the kid’s table and not the grown-ups’. Nonetheless, there is change in the air as CODOFIL embarks on the next phase of its history

The new Director, Peggy Feehan, unveils the main lines of its future: Immersion will continue to expand in Lincoln Parish, Shreveport, Natchitoches and, after so many years of effort, even in Vermilion Parish, one of the most Francophone in the state; we will strengthen the training of our own immersion teachers – UL-Lafayette will soon have a master’s degree in immersion education – thus reducing our dependence on the generosity of foreigners; and, at the same time, we will transform francophone students into francophone professionals by developing opportunities in other trades than teaching. Since we have a youth that is not ashamed to speak French, we can consider a destiny without constraint and without hindrance. Indeed, once faced with opprobrium when speaking French in public, Louisiana Francophones today can speak without fear of insults. On the contrary, often others express their regret in being able to speak French. What does it matter if we have fewer Francophones in the 21st century, those we have speak without complex and without worrying whether it is the “good” French or not.

But the biggest transformation could take place on October 11-12 in Yerevan, Armenia, at the next summit when the OIF will decide whether or not Louisiana deserves a place at the big table. The official request was made last spring, we just have to wait. In the conclusion of the dossier, it says, “More than ever, Louisiana recognizes that its Francophonie is a natural and renewable resource. It notes, however, that its future sustainability and success will depend on its relations with the international Francophonie, whose social, political, economic, professional and cultural models it intends to draw on. Louisiana is ready to take its place at the table.” In fifty years, CODOFIL has revealed a culture and a language that have long been ignored and hidden and want only one thing: to live life in French in broad daylight with the rest of the family.