November – Hélène Pichon

This month, meet Hélène Pichon, the Director of the Alliance Française of The Hague and Coordinator of the network of Alliances Françaises in the Netherlands. Discover all about Hélène’s contributions to EUNIC Netherlands and learn why she values being a EUNIC member!

1)    What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

I am the Director of the Alliance Française of The Hague and the coordinator of the network of the 33 Alliances Françaises located in the Netherlands. In this capacity I am, with the support of the Institut Français in the Netherlands, the French Embassy in the Netherlands and the boards of all our Alliances Françaises, in charge of promoting the French language and culture throughout the Netherlands and also in 11 international organisations located in The Hague and the rest of the Netherlands. 

2)    How do you contribute to EUNIC?

I am committed to contributing to the European Union National Institutes for Culture – EUNIC – network in the Netherlands by organising projects, events and collaborations that demonstrate how our multiple languages and cultures contribute to cement our unity as European citizens through the diversity of our languages and cultures. For instance, it was a great privilege to host the European Day of Languages in September in our Alliances Françaises in The Hague and Rotterdam for large numbers of students in the Netherlands who were thus given an opportunity to discover not only the French language but also several languages such as Georgian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Irish and Czech, amongst others! Such richness echoes the beautiful quotation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that has always been the compass of my life: “Far from threatening me, my brother, your difference enriches me !”

3)    What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands member?

The best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands member is definitely to be immersed here, on the ground in the Netherlands, into the reality of a true European citizenship. So many of our nations are represented here in the population: a lot of expats are studying and working in the Netherlands, thanks to the economic dynamism of the Netherlands. But not only are the Netherlands emblematic of a truly dynamic country, but the Netherlands are also very welcoming to the many nations of the world and are most open to the richness and diversity of foreign cultures including European ones. This most cosmopolitan atmosphere creates a very fertile ground for the EUNIC Netherlands network to thrive, allowing for projects to become concrete immediately, benefitting a wide audience and public! This is truly amazing! I just arrived in The Hague last September but I can already feel that the Netherlands can play the role of a true incubator of European linguistic and cultural identity. I feel blessed to have been given a chance to lay a few stones in this building of the European Human construction! We know how much the time has come for European citizens to grasp their European identity and give it flesh and blood, a heart and a soul: our EUNIC Netherlands network is definitely fitted to spearhead this most necessary growth and expansion of our European Union’s human dimension, representing one of its most essential cornerstones!