Europe Day Event Engages Students

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Arnaud Mentre, Boston’s French Consul General, met virtually with BLS students. (Source: Arnaud Mentre)

By Azalea Thompson (II), Staff Writer

On May 14, the French and Irish Consuls General met with Boston Latin School students to speak about the European Union (EU).

The event was organized in honor of Europe Day, which the EU observes on May 9 to celebrate peace and unity in Europe.

The featured speakers were Arnaud Mentré, the Consul General of France in Boston, and Laoise Moore, the Consul General of Ireland in Boston. Consul Generals are responsible for overseeing foreign commerce and trade. Together they discussed topics related to the EU, from its origins to its social and economic impacts. Over 135 people attended the meeting, including students taking French and AP European History.

French teacher Madame Carole Lapointe explains how the talk came to be, saying, “The French Consul’s assistant contacted me. We have a good relationship with the French Consulate.” Madame Lapointe put the French Consulate in contact with the BLS History Department so that a meeting with students could be organized.

To begin the presentation, Consul General Mentré covered the origins of the EU and France’s role as a founding member. He talked about the early stages of the EU’s formation and also touched on its present challenges and achievements.

Next, Consul General Moore discussed the growth of the EU, its principles and impact on Ireland. She detailed the transformative effects the EU has had on the country since it joined in 1973, including economic and social changes. She said that the Union transformed Ireland to become a more outward-looking and diverse country, and mentioned how it impacted her own life.

The students who attended the presentation completed assignments about the event, such as answering questions and taking notes. The topics discussed relate back to the curriculum of classes such as AP European History since they study the foundation of the EU and its impact on Europe and the world, as well as economic and national sovereignty.

AP European History teacher Mr. David Fleming says, “We wanted to make sure [the speak-
ers] talked about those things […] [so they] could personalize the experiences of people in their nations, and they could personalize the history. […] That’s the benefit of outside speakers.”

After the speakers presented, students had the opportunity to ask them questions. Question topics included the national identity within the EU, its cultural impacts and Brexit — the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU in 2020. During this portion of the event, the speakers discussed in greater detail how the EU connects different countries under common values. They also talked about how citizens of EU Member States identify with their own country and the EU.

Attendee Sarah Connolly (II) reflects, “This really made me appreciate how connected we as Americans are to the rest of the world even though it feels like we are so separated at times.”