The French School of Taipei was born 30 years ago, almost to the day, on the 4th of September 1989. 17 students, two French class teachers and one English teacher walked through the doors on that first morning. Now that we have become a Lycée français within Taipei European School, I wanted to pay homage to those who were at the origin of a project that must have seemed a little crazy at the time: opening a school.
It will be no surprise to learn that parents were the ones at the heart of the initiative, they were the ones who took all of the risks, who donated their time and their energy, the ones who moved administrative mountains, who convinced the authorities with their enthusiasm, who swayed French businesses and other stakeholders to take a chance on them.
I can see all too clearly what it must have looked like at the preliminary stage: the debates, the discussions, the interminable meetings. I can only imagine the emotions everyone must have felt that September morning when the French School of Taipei opened its doors: joy, immense pride and probably a knot of anxiety in the parents’ stomachs as they were faced with the enormity of the task they were undertaking.
I have thought of those founding parents on many occasions over the past few years: when we first opened the high school (lycée) classes and when they were accredited by the AEFE, when our first graduates celebrated their French Bac results, when the first AEFE training seminars took place in Taipei, when we became a full exam centre… During all of these landmark occasions, I have had the impression that history is progressively being made. We owe everything we have accomplished to those founding parents, to their children and to our first ever colleagues who helped transform a crazy project into a success story: a French school in Taipei.
Here we are 30 years later, with a staff of 60, and a student body of 388 from Petite Section to Terminale. We are still a resolutely French school (half of our students are French passport holders), but we are also international – and proudly so – proud that our educational project interests and attracts local families and other non-French speakers. A lot of things have changed since 1989; no doubt, there are aspects to the French Section that the founding fathers never envisaged. It is the life cycle of every good project: once it is hatched, it takes off, grows, develops, evolves and at times takes unpredictable turns.
Such growth and development can only occur if the foundation is solid, which the French School’s definitely is. From the very beginning, students were at its heart and foremost in everyone’s thoughts, guiding decisions and ensuring that the school took the right path: doing the best for its students. Generations of parents and students have walked through the doors of the French School over the past 30 years and the founding families can be proud of what they have accomplished; their values are still alive and respected today.
I would like to thank our founding parents and congratulate them on everything they have achieved. I would also to thank French Section alumnus and President of the alumni association, Yannick Deleuze, for organising a 30th anniversary evening in Paris on the 12th October in the Taipei Representative Office (I am told that the after party will be a less formal affair at a bar in St Germain!).