November 2016 Update – LCEF is working with Arnaudville citizens and artists to create a new nonprofit organization that will oversee the creation of St. Luc’s French Immersion Campus. A Steering Committee is working to advance the use of the 25,000 square foot empty hospital to see this dream come to fruition.
Several years ago, LCEF became aware of a small town, just 20 miles north of Lafayette, where 1 in 8 households still speak French. Galvanized by a growing cadre of artists, citizens there have an ambitious dream to establish a French immersion center utilizing their community as a living textbook. We couldn’t resist the charm of this town, its people and this truly big idea. Folks in Arnaudville had identified an unused hospital – some of them had been born there – owned by St. Martin and St. Landry Parishes, that would be an ideal home to their dream.
After years of meetings, conversations and negotiations, LCEF secured a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to create concrete plans that would ascertain the viability of such a project. Both St. Landry and St. Martin Parishes invested in the planning, too, and consultants began a planning process to:
- Develop an inventory of cultural assets
- Create a business plan
There is no other French immersion center of this kind in the US and many go as far as Nova Scotia for a similar experience. Universities from throughout the US are already bringing students to this tiny town, and they take up temporary residence in private homes and nearby hotels, therefore diffusing the immersion experience. A 25,000 square foot hospital, with two wings of rooms and baths will be a welcome asset to visitors, while also offering meeting and conference space.
Now that the business plan is complete, Arnaudville is getting some new press about an exciting future. Check out these recent articles: http://theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/13715295-129/business-plan-for-french-immersion and http://theind.com/article-21974-arnaudville-french-immersion-center-gets-green-light.html.