15 September 2018

“Leave only you fingerprint behind” - #The DawnOfArt. The exploration of the dawn of cave rock art symbolises the dawn and emergence of the France Alumni network in South Africa. This second France Alumni South Africa event, documented for 2018, took place at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Johannesburg, where the French Lascaux caves are exhibited from May to October 2018.

 

With caves and rock art as cultural and academic theme for the event, the set-up of the cave-like venue inside the exhibition itself was fitting. Véronique BRIQUET-LAUGIER, Cultural action and cooperation advisor of the French Embassy and director of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) welcomed the alumni from the various French educational programmes offered in France and South Africa. The France Alumni network comprises of French government scholarship holders; graduates from the French South African Technology Institute (F’SATI), French South African Schneider Electric Education Centre (F’SASEC) and French South African Agricultural Institute (F’SAGRI). Alumni form prestigious French business schools and Erasmus+ programmes as well as graduates and teachers forming part of the French as Foreign Language (FLE) programmes are all included in this France Alumni network.

The France Alumni platform, launched in 2015 in South Africa, serves as the perfect networking tool to regroup all the France alumni residing in South Africa. It also allows for connection with alumni world wide through the  international France Alumni platform. The presence of the French economic sector, registered as partners, enable the alumni to identify and link-up with the professional collaboration network of France and South Africa. Internship and job opportunities are further advertised on the platform together with news and event articles about the French companies or other interesting France alumni aspects. Currently there are just under 200 000 international France Alumni members with just under 200 members registered on the South African platform: https://www.francealumni.fr/en/position/southafrica/

Saint-Gobain, a French construction company present in South Africa and Africa shared an overview of their company as well as the exciting internship and job opportunities they have to offer for locals with French degrees. More information with the contact details of the Talent, Development and OD Manager, Su-Anne VAN WYK, can be found on the France Alumni platform.

The “bright light” in the Lascaux cave was our plio-pleistocene geologist alumni member, Silindokuhle Mavuso, who shared his academic cave experiences with us. Newcastle-bred Silindo pursued a career in the sciences and now holds a BSc (Geology, Archaeology and Environmental & Geographical sciences) from the University of Cape Town, a BSc Honours (Geology and Palaeontology) from Wits and has just recently completed his MSc in Geology (Dissertation titled The Sedimentology of the Jacovec Cavern, Sterkfontein) from the same university. During his Masters, he was selected as an Erasmus Mundus Scholar (Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier, France) through the AESOP programme to gain skills in karst sedimentology and petrography. Currently he is a PhD candidate in Geology at Wits University where he is conducting research on palaeo-environmental reconstruction and change of the Turkana Basin, Northern Kenya. During his PhD, he plans to continue a French-South African collaboration and already has a research host from the University of Strasbourg who will be assisting him in a very integral part of his PhD research. The French Embassy would be honoured to support him during his academic stay in France and we look forward to his application for the year 2019.

A photo competition was launched alongside the event to encourage alumni to share their French souvenir photos during their stay in France. There were three categories: 1) Academic - showing the interesting academic environment of France, 2) French culture - expressing the French culture / student life in France, 3) Travel - inspiring fellow students to travel and explore tourism in France.

Robin NXELE, a current French Embassy scholarship holder doing part of her PhD research in Chemistry at the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris” won the Travel photo category. She is offered a Eurail second class train pass for France, valid for 4 days in one month with compliments of World Travel. A big thanks to the Atout France office who helped to organise this prize.

The photo of Nathan-John ARENDSE having lunch in the French cafeteria of the University of Tampon, Reunion Island, took the prize in the French Culture photo category. He and a friend will have the opportunity to attend the performance of the French writer, Antoine Saint Exupéry’s story: The Little Prince. This adapted piece will be performed by South African artists, Kwasha, 8-25 November 2018 at the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg. The two complimentary tickets have kindly been sponsored by the French Institute of South Africa.

The academic photo prize was awarded to Mercy NQANDEKA, expressing her field work experience on an organic farm during her agricultural / climate change master’s degree in France. Upon her return to South Africa at the end of 2018, Mercy will be able to register for a full semester membership at an Alliance Française of her choice. It is possible to take French language courses at any of the Alliance Française’s present in South Africa. With a quick evaluation test, one can identify their French competency level and enter a course according to one’s level. With her membership, Mercy will be added to the newsletter mailing list to be informed about the various cultural events hosted throughout the year by the Alliance Française.

The French Embassy would like to thank Sci-Bono for having hosted this event within the French Lascaux cave exhibition as well as the Curious Chef for the morning tea and cocktail lunch. A big thanks to Selbys for the excellent sound and visual displays. We appreciate the participation of the French Embassy partners and France Alumni, we hope to have similar events in the future.