As a life-long Washingtonian, becoming involved with the French-American Cultural Foundation has represented an opportunity to invite and reinvigorate French-influenced social, cultural and business relationships into my activities and has renewed my interest in an old love, French culture and style. Books I collected and pored over in my 20’s and 30’s on French furniture, gardens and fashion, as well as travel, influenced my love of gardens and French design. These interests, combined with other boards I have served on for the past 20 years in the areas of historic preservation, the arts and science are why the Foundation’s mission of honoring the past, celebrating the present, and building for the future between the republics of America and France has been an appealing diversion toward unity, beauty and enlightenment in an often divisive world. F-ACF sponsored or supported programs such as educational travel and seminars, historical lectures, support for cultural icons, and awareness of the moral and ethical institutions that bind us provide meaningful opportunities to promote mutual enrichment.
Recently, I and others involved in F-ACF had the opportunity to travel to France to participate in a cultural and academic exchange organized by Mount Vernon to celebrate 240 years of French-American history, diplomacy and culture. The conference covered wide ranging topics from support of each other’s revolutions to ways in which the culinary arts have played a role in the social networking of diplomacy. We visited the 1,000-year-old Chastellux Château, which among other treasures, housed a remarkable repository of historical documents relating to the founding of our country. Of course, all activities were paired with excellent wines, distinctive local cheeses, and an ample supply of champagne! New friendships were made, as well as a collaboration between F-ACF and the Saint Omer Foundation which will generate awareness of important roots between our shared transatlantic values and institutions.
A prior trip to France introduced me to the American Friends of Versailles and The International Friends of Vaux-le-Vicomte Conservancy. Both groups organized unique and informative tours as a means of supporting the ongoing maintenance and cultural programs for these important historical and architectural masterpieces. I treasure the memories of the sights, sounds, smells and flavors as well as the history that inspired these monuments of art and culture. These experiences left me with a personal to-do list which includes fulfilling a life-long desire to learn French and improving my culinary skills! Opportunities to expand, re-envision and improve upon quality of life by the cultivation of life-style are just a few of the many ways being involved with the French-American Cultural Foundation connects me to the past and present and inspires my future endeavors.