Dîner en Blanc: Who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day?

Elizabeth Duswalt, Contributing Writer

On Sept. 8, Malesardi Quad took a break from the stifling humidity and allowed a breeze to blow through the all-white ensembles of the 150 French students, faculty, and staff that attended an event titled, “Dîner en Blanc,” which translates to “dinner in white.” Guests dined on a variety of French dishes including quiches, cheeses, and macaroons, while the clinking of glasses of Vouvray from the of-age guests could be heard across the quad.

Dîner en Blanc is a French tradition that Associate Professor of French Renee Gosson and the rest of the Department of French & Francophone Studies decided to use as an elegant and visible way to begin the academic year. Invitations were sent out over the summer to all returning French students and incoming first-years who took the online French placement exam.

“It was also an opportunity for us to showcase with posters our alums who internationalized their Bucknell education and eventually their careers by combining majors in international relations, biology, economics, art history, anthropology, and management, for example, with French language, literature, and cultural studies,” Gosson said.

The dinner also served as an event for students and faculty to collaborate with the French teaching assistants (TAs) and exchange students from the Université de Tours, Bucknell en France’s host institution. They created a photo booth with fun props, an interactive cultural game for table conversation, and white boards with sayings such as “avant de mourir, je veux …” (which means “before I die, I want to …”) for students to finish and take pictures with.

The French classes competed in a table-decorating competition in which each class had to decorate a table with a French theme. The winning classes were a beginner-level class with the theme of French-speaking countries and prepositions, and an advanced class with a theme that demonstrated their class subject matter: the triangular slave trade between French colonies, West Africa, and the Caribbean. There was also a photo contest that Haotong Yan ’19 and Chau Le ’16 won.

The Dîner en Blanc was an advertisement for the French & Francophone Studies Program by giving students a view into French life through an interactive and engaging perspective. The intrigue of the “last minute announcement” of the mystery location, the collaboration between French faculty, TAs, University students and Université de Tours exchange students, the photos posted to the French department’s Facebook page, and the appearance of the hashtag #dinerenblancbucknell on social media all made for the kick-off event.

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