Once a month, lovers of all things French, also known as Francophiles, get together to eat authentic cuisine, learn about the culture and practice their French-speaking skills.
For some, it may sound like a party, but for Pi Delta Phi members, it is an opportunity to do what they love with people who share the same interests.
Pi Delta Phi is a national French honor society that is dedicated to students who have shown outstanding academic scholarship and language activities. To become a full member, students must have either completed a 300-level French class or be enrolled in one. Members must also have a minimum 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.25 GPA in French.
UT senior and Pi Delta Phi President, Alex Brito, has been involved with the honor society since her freshman year when she was considered an honorary member.
“I was impressed by the leadership and the tight-knit, welcoming attitude of the group,” she said. “I wanted to become more involved.”
Though she had studied French prior to joining Pi Delta Phi, Sarah Kirk, who serves as vice president, was drawn to the group because of her French minor.
“I was involved with teaching elementary school French to the kids at Pond Gap with [Brito],” she said. “When she found out I was a French minor, she told me to join and brought me to a few events, which led me to want to join and, now, help run the organization.”
Pi Delta Phi holds some events annually, such as a cheese tasting in fall. The group also recently introduced a Crepes and Conversation event, which included both sweet and savory varieties of the French food. Brito said it is something they would like to continue in the future.
This year marks the third annual presentation of French Connections week, which will begin on Monday, March 27 and end on Saturday, April 1.
Designed to promote French and French culture, French Connections hosts events such as panels with students who have studied abroad, canvas painting and coffee nights and conversations with people who have used their French skills in the professional world. They also make sure to keep some French treats on-hand.
Despite their international skew, Brito said she wants all students to come and learn about French culture.
“You don’t have to speak French or be involved in French to participate,” she said.
For Brito, Pi Delta Phi is about more than just their monthly meeting; it is a way to get out of her comfort zone and realize the differences and similarities in cultures.
Kirk, who has been studying French for eight years, said that she thinks it is important to spread international culture at UT and has also made her more internationally aware and interested.
“I think that other languages provide awareness to others and show that your needs are not the only ones around,” she said. “Clubs like Pi Delta Phi help spread awareness to other cultures with events like French Connection Week.”
Brito hopes that all Pi Delta Phi members gain a greater connection through the organization
“I hope that when students come to Pi Delta Phi, they build a connection to the French culture we have in our own community,” she said.
For more information about Pi Delta Phi, visit their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Edited by McKenzie Manning
Featured image by Alex Brito