Consul General Evan G. Reade traveled to the towns of Gray and Champagney in Haute Saone, Franche Comté on Monday, February 10, 2014 to visit the Henry Fertet high school and Victor Schoelcher middle school. The Henry Fertet high school has a partnership with Charlottesville Albermale Technological Center (CATEC) and the students are preparing for a trip to Charlottesville, VA later this month. The Academy of Besancon has a partnership with Charlottesville as Besancon and Charlottesville are sister cities. The visit of Consul General Reade took place on the very same day that French President Francois Hollande was conducting an official visit to the United States and Charlottesville. Headmaster Claude Mercier and his staff did not forget to mention this detail and were very happy that Consul General Reade had taken the time to visit the school. The Henry Fertet high school specializes in training automobile and motorcycle mechanics and Driver Patrick Demmerle from the Consulate General took some time to show off our Chevrolet Volt electric car to students and explain the advantages of the “green machine.”
While at Lycee Henry Fertet, Consul General Reade also met with faculty and staff from Lycee Pierre Adrien Paris, located in Besancon, which is another technical high school where student learn building and contracting trades. Like Lycee Henry Fertet, they also have a relationship with CATEC and will be sending ten of their students for an exchange visit to Virginia in about three months.
In the village of Champagney, Consul General Reade met with students at the Victor Schoelcher middle school. The ninth graders of the school had already visited Charlottesville as the school has a partnership with Buford Middle School. Consul General Reade had a great time looking at the photos of the trip and answering questions about the United States, and congratulated the students for being such great Ambassadors for France, underlining the importance of people-to-people diplomacy. The students will continue to keep in touch with their counterparts in Charlottesville via social media and hope the U.S. students can visit Franche Comté soon.
Finally, Consul General Reade toured the Maison de la Negritude et des Droits de l’Homme in Champagney accompanied by Mayor Gérard Poivey. The people of Champagney demanded on March 19, 1789 that the King of France abolish slavery. The aim of this small but very impressive museum is to present the history and lessons of slavery and to counter continuing forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance.
The U.S. Consulate General would like to thank the Academy of Besancon for hosting an enjoyable and instructive day spent in the Haute Saone Department.
For those wishing to have more information on the official State visit of Francois Hollande to the U.S., please go to http://france.usembassy.gov/event20140210.html.