French Club Says "Bonjour" at Mealtime Tables

Aki Li ’25 in News | October 7, 2022

On September 27, the first French lunch table was held in the Hyatt Room of the Abbott Dining Room. Hosted by the French Club, the meeting was an hour-long lunch to practice French in a low-stakes way. Claire Robbins ’24 and Lindsay Lee ’23, the co-presidents of the club, stated that they wanted to give the students the chance to “casually practice French outside the classroom” and “share a love of French among other francophones.” 
Attendee Grace Zhang ’25 noted that she “really enjoyed [the language tables].” While she had been apprehensive about attending the meeting at first, fearing the conversations to be too “fast and fluent,” she had decided to go in an effort to practice her speaking. Zhang also revealed that the meeting being held in the mysterious and exclusive Abbott Dining Room also helped convince her to attend. The lunch was held with all four of Lawrenceville’s French Teachers present: Sangeeta Dhawan, Brian Jacobs H’22, Patrick Loughlin, and Melissa Verhey. The teachers sat in a checkered position at the long tables, with students sitting in between them. Their conversations had a wide range, Zhang explained, with topics ranging from “French books and movies” to “Tsai Di: Yay or Nay,” and they actively invited students to jump in with their own takes. “Honestly, it wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be,” she recounted, describing everyone at the table to be welcoming and kind. Overall, Zhang said that she was “really glad [she] went,” as she was able to immerse herself in an “active French environment” for almost a full hour. Zhang plans on attending the French Language table again, and she hopes to be more vocal at the next meeting.
Not only will the French Language table be a weekly event, Robbins and Lee, in collaboration with the French department, are also currently planning a French movie night, study group, and even a crêpe-making workshop. Jacobs, the advisor of the French Club, stated that he was looking forward to “teaching the students how to make the perfect crêpe.”
“I encourage both French-taking students and others who are interested to come,” Robbins said, highlighting the fact that the French lunch was truly open to everyone interested in French. As the event is  a “casual space for all levels,” Robbins added that if speaking at the table feels intimidating, students could “just come to listen.”