Claire Bryars is President of Babel, a language and cultural exchange association in the centre of Grenoble. She tells us about the organisation, its activities and its history.
Babel is an association founded in 1978 by a handful of people who wanted to develop and promote language teaching and cultural exchanges in France and abroad.
I was one of the founding members and have been President since 2003. As a teacher I have also organised intensive English courses and accompanied groups to England and Wales.
When we started we were extremely fortunate to be provided with a room in the heart of Grenoble, next to the Couvent des Minimes where we have been ever since.
The activities have been very varied over the years but from the very beginning we have given language lessons (English, French for foreigners, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish) and had conversation groups.
We have also organised seminars, intensive adult courses, children’s classes, teacher training sessions, trips to England, Wales and Italy, had play readings, cultural evenings and produced a monthly newspaper (The Newssheet) which eventually became Breakaway.
For a few months we also presented a weekly radio programme. There is also of course the Library, an important part of our association. It was created in 2000 with the aid of Alliance Grenoble Oxford and Open House and is housed in Babel.
All the above activities are available to members and their friends who may also attend the cultural evenings. We have an Open Day in September and a yearly Christmas party. A monthly letter informs members of the coming events and a website has recently been set up.
Coming up next at Babel there is an inter-cultural evening (Italian/Spanish) on the 27th May followed by a trip to Italy. The Open Day is the 11th September (14h–18h) and Babel will participate in the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine on the 18th and 19th September with other associations housed in the Quartier du Vieux Temple. We hope to see you there!
A permanent member of staff is present on Tuesdays (12h15–13h45) during the library opening hours. Otherwise anyone wishing to join can leave a telephone message (04 76 42 43 91) or send an e-mail (association.babel@ laposte.net).