Photo by Samira Bandaru

On Tuesday, March 28, the Consulate General of France and Georgia Tech came together to launch France Alumni USA, an interactive network created first to enable students to connect with alumni.

The launch party was held at the Ferst Center of the Arts was attended by members of the French Embassy and Consulate, the leaders of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, and Tech students who had previously studied abroad in France. Alumni of Tech’s study abroad programs were welcomed with t-shirts on which they could write about their experiences studying abroad in France and take photos at a photobooth in the Ferst center lobby.

Guest speakers included Yves H. Berthelot, Vice Provost for International Initiatives at Georgia Tech, Louis Corail, Consul General of France in Atlanta, Iwan Streichenberger, Entrepreneur and French Trade Advisor in Atlanta, Tracy Turfait, Project Coordinator and Thomas Turfait, Global Specialty Business Unit Manager.

“It [France Alumni USA] was created first for the students—to enable them to connect with alumni,” said Corail, in his speech. “France Alumni USA helps to expand your career opportunities and leverage your experience, whether you have already been to France as part of a study abroad program, or are planning to study or work there in the future. France Alumni USA will provide access to jobs and internships in both the US and France, access to events organized throughout the US, and access to a directory of alumni who have studied in France, as well as many discussion groups. This platform was also created for businesses so they can inform their communities, post jobs and internship offers, promote their brands and events, and expand their network.”

Around 300,000 foreign students travel to France to study each year, which includes 18,000 American students. Corail commented on the importance of studying abroad, emphasizing one of the EU’s most well-known and respected achievements, the Erasmus Student Exchange Program, creating countless links across the European continent.

“By coming to France, young foreign students can enjoy an extremely rich culture and enjoy a specific approach to learning that we inherited from the enlightenment age, which closely links intellectual excellence to critical judgement, and we do believe that this kind of experience stays with you all of your life—that the special bond that all of these students have created with France will remain in their heart,” said Corail. “As a result, France has decided to create and to launch the France Alumni Network to help them keep up with these relationships and continue to make the most of their experience abroad. France Alumni aims to create an international network of professional who have completed part or all of their studies in France. This network is essential to helping young professionals truly leverage their time in France.”

In partnering with the French Consul, Georgia Tech was able to create the only full fledged American campus in France, Georgia Tech Lorraine in Metz, France, and has been able to foster other study abroad programs as well. “Our campus has had a love affair with France over many, many years,” said Berthelot. “The France campus, Georgia Tech Lorraine is twenty-six or so years old. But beyond Georgia Tech Lorraine, we have a lot of other interactions in France and several LBAT programs. Honestly, when I look at campuses around the US, we are fortunate to have one of the most Francophile campuses that I’ve ever seen. It’s always a pleasure to work with our partners at the Consulate General.”

The France Alumni USA website is a worldwide network and was launched in the US at the end of 2016. “We have this fantastic partnership with Georgia Tech because we have a campus in France—it’s a unique relationship, and it’s over five-hundred students coming to Georgia Tech in France every year,” said Alexandre Durand, Cultural Attaché for the Consulate General of France. “We really value this relationship with Georgia Tech and it was obviously the place to organize the official launch.”