Students educated on French relations in U.S.
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Dozens of students and faculty crammed the Kurt Liedtke graduate reading room in the humanities building to speak to Romain Serman, consul general for the Consulate General of France in San Francisco.

The department of foreign languages and literatures, along with assistant professor Marie-Paule Laden, helped organize the Nov. 9 event.

Laden wanted to educate her students about the consulate's endeavors in San Francisco and field questions regarding relations between France and the U.S.

"Now we are in the context of the international week and my class is a culture class," Laden said. "I thought it would be very interesting for them to be exposed to what a consulate does."

Serman, previously the foreign affairs advisor to the Consulate, was appointed to the position in June and replaced Pierre-François Mourier.

"The relationship with the U.S. is really excellent at the moment," said Serman, 38. "The two presidents have done a lot of things to get that relationship to be really good."

According to the French Embassy's website, the CGFSF is one of 10 throughout the U.S. The purpose of different consulates is to complement the French Embassy in Washington D.C. by appointing consular officials who are responsible for protecting the interests of French nationals abroad.

"We try to do our best to support the French policy in the Northwest states in America, " said Jaques de Noray, deputy consul and public information officer for the consulate. "Most of the time it's more just to support the French citizens living here in the U.S."

According to Javier Palacios, a 22-year-old junior comparative literature major, Serman did a good job relating to students and getting them to open up.

"He's really funny," Palacios said. "He is really witty and kind of nonchalant. He's very French and very diplomatic."

Some feel that San Francisco is the right city to house the consulate.

"This used to be the biggest city on the west coast," said Anna Van Saint, a 28-year-old senior studying international relations and history. "And this where they signed the foundation treaty for the U.N, so it's very diverse. There's also a huge Francophone community here."

The term "francophone" was coined to refer to those who fully appreciate and endorse French culture. According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans view France favorably, up from 34 percent in 2003.

In March of this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the U.S. and the current relationship between the two countries during a press conference with President Barack Obama.

"Seldom in the history of our two countries have the shared values between the United States of America and France been so aligned," Sarkozy said.

Serman said he wants students to know that like the U.S., there will always be a place for international students in French schools.

"All American students are always welcome in France," Serman said. "Just like we feel comfortable being here."

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PHOTO
Sam Heller | staff photographer
M. Romain Serman, Consul Général of France speaks to celebrate International Education Week. By decree of the President of the French Republic, dated June 28, 2010, Romain Serman, Adviser on Foreign Affairs, was appointed Consul General of France in San Francisco, replacing Pierre-François Mourier, who has been called to other duties. Tuesday, November 9, 2010

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