We love our members! In fact, we love them so much that we want you to get to know them and share in our community. In this series, Member Spotlight, the French Cultural Center will introduce you to a member via our blog. This month we are featuring Christopher (Chris) Smith, who can't wait to take our themed classes at the Center! Read on to learn more about Chris...

"After my positive experience with the Alliance Française in Orlando, the French Cultural Center/ Alliance Française of Boston and Cambridge was the first place I looked to continue my studies when I moved to the Boston area."


What is your connection to the French language and/or francophone culture?

Growing up in Rochester, NY, I envisioned traveling to Ontario and Quebec and wanted to be able to communicate and connect with people in their native language. I started taking French classes in middle school, continued through high school and then did my undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona where my French went into hibernation for many years.

How long have you been a member here?

Since 2012.

Why did you decide to become a member of the French Cultural Center?

My French proficiency became almost, but not quite, conversational by the time it went “en pause.” I had always wanted to recommence my studies, but didn’t become sufficiently motivated until I traveled to France for the first time in 2011. I figured I could just brush up a little bit on my own and be proficient enough to “get by” which, of course, turned out to be wildly over-optimistic. I was determined to finally learn to speak French when I returned, but I wasn’t interested in driving to a university, sitting in a classroom full of college kids and then driving home. I found the Alliance Française where I was living in Orlando at the time. My first professor there was incredibly inspiring. The classes were instructional, but even more so, it was the dinner parties she and her husband hosted that sparked what has become a lifelong interest in studying the French language and experiencing French culture. I can still imagine them riding around Paris on his moped back in the day...

After my positive experience with the Alliance Française in Orlando, the French Cultural Center / Alliance Française of Boston and Cambridge was the first place I looked to continue my studies when I moved to the Boston area. I had a wonderful experience with the first class I took at the Center. I developed camaraderie with my classmates, enjoyed a few social events similar to the Well Red series at the time (now Alors…) and the collection of journals and other multimedia materials available were very helpful, and have been to this day.

What do you like about being a member at the Center? Do you have any favorite classes or events that you have participated in?

The classes, the vernissages, and the diversity of the backgrounds and the stories of all the different people I’ve met. I’m still working my way through the formal classes but have finally progressed to the level where I can start taking some of the thematic classes in French. I’m very much looking forward to taking classes on a variety of subjects that have already been offered, such as French politics, humor, regions in France, etc.

If you could travel to any Francophone country, what would it be and why?

France. I’ve traveled to France several times already, but there is still so much more I have yet to explore. I spent several weeks in Paris last year and took immersion classes at the Alliance chapter there during my stay. I attended several social events hosted by expatriates and other local groups. Having to present myself socially in French to a bunch of strangers, with zero alternative, was a very profound experience. I was essentially on vacation, so that’s nothing compared to the isolation and sense of displacement people who emigrate from a different country must feel, but I think the experience helped give me a broader perspective nonetheless.

Interested in sharing your story or becoming a member?

Contact our Membership Manager, Natalie Collet, at or call (617) 912-0400.

Natalie Collet

Membership Manager

From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and​ the language and culture entranced her through her student years.​ She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities​, ​quality programming​, and a community through French! [line_break /][line_break /] [email_link email="ncollet@frenchculturalcenter.org"]Contact[/email_link]

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