The Alliance Française du Maine is an apolitical, non profit language and cultural organisation that is affiliated with the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA and Fondation Alliance Française in Paris whose origins date back to 1883. The Alliance Française du Maine is supported by the French Consulate in Boston, the French Embassy in Washington and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is committed to the promotion and appreciation of the Francophone and Francophile community of Maine.
The Alliance Française is an important part of French language learning and cultural exchange around the world. There are more than 100 Alliance Française centers in the U.S., with more than 24,000 students. In encouraging the development of French language skills and knowledge and culture of the Francophone world, the AF aspires to help students with reconnecting not only with their own heritage but also with a vibrant and growing global culture. Since 2010, Africans from French-speaking countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, have arrived and settled in Maine, either as refugees, immigrants or asylum-seekers. People from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Ivory Coast and Togo, countries where French is a national language, have also moved to the state. These African immigrants who have seeked refuge in the Portland region in the past few years have been at the source of a French-speaking renaissance here in our own state. Most have travelled to Maine with young families and they wish for their children to continue speaking and reading French, and for themselves to preserve their language skills. When they moved to the U.S., many were concerned they and other Africans might lose French. These hundreds of Francophone Africans did not know that they would settle in a state with almost two centuries of French heritage !
French has indeed been spoken in Maine since the 19th century, when waves of French Canadians immigrated to work in New England mill towns like Lewiston, Biddeford and Waterville. According to a 2012 legislative task force report, roughly 24 percent of Maine’s population self-identifies as Franco-American, making it the largest ethnic group in the state.
The Alliance Française du Maine (AFduME) is based in Portland, Maine and offers programs that include French language classes for children to adults, monthly French conversation luncheons and films, Art in French, a French library, celebrations of Francophone holidays, children’s playgroups, as well as picnics, potluck parties, epicurean events and member outings throughout Maine, New England and Québec.
Members receive regular notices about cultural events throughout the region via a newsletter, and updates of current schedules and news through various media. Situated in a superb space in the heart of the city of beautiful Portland, the Alliance Française du Maine is proud to share its location with the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center which serves as a hub of collaboration that strengthens the immigrant community through language acquisition, economic integration and civic engagement. The perfect fit for AFdu ME, which thrives to preserve Franco-American heritage while welcoming the heritage and cultures of our neighbors. Our Francophone history is a legacy handed to us by generations of our brave ancestors who relocated here from France, Belgium or Switzerland, from Quebec, and Francophone Africa!