Holy Cross Alumnus Wins Prestigious French Award

For his dedication to advocating for French language and culture, Stephen Silvestri '19 received the 6th Annual French Consulate in Boston Excellence Award

Parlez vous Français? Stephen Silvestri '19, a Chinese and international studies double major with a minor in French, not only speaks the language, but has fervently advocated for the French language and Francophone culture throughout his time at the College.

Recently, Silvestri was honored for his commitment to French culture by receiving the 6th Annual French Consulate in Boston Excellence Award. The competitive award is given annually to a student who spent some time abroad in France and who has been an active advocate of the experience and the importance of learning French. The competition is open to all universities and colleges in New England. As a part of winning the award, Silvestri traveled to the French Consulate in Boston and recorded a video describing his passion for the language and culture.

Silvestri studied in Strasbourg, France for the fall semester of his junior year and also spent a month in Tours, France studying the language.

"During the month in Tours, I lived with a young French host family from Paris," Silvestri says. "While in Strasbourg, I lived with a second, more traditional host family directly from Alsace. I credit this contrast with improving my appreciation for the rich cultural nuances of France."

Once back on The Hill, Silvestri actively promoted study abroad programs in France, attending information sessions and open houses for students planning to go abroad. But his involvement with the culture didn't stop at the edge of campus. Silvestri engaged with the diverse French-speaking local community in Worcester, volunteering as a French translator, food bank volunteer, and service coordinator for Francophone refugees from the Congo.

"Establishing real-life connections and bonds with people encapsulated through the rich cultural heritage of the French language has been one of the best ways I’ve been able to persuade others to take up, in particular, foreign language studies in French," Silvestri says.

And Silvestri didn't just make an impact on the French Embassy in Boston — his Holy Cross professors say he was a highly dedicated student of French due to his enthusiastic exploration of all aspects of the discipline.

"Although a French minor, Stephen showed a commitment to French equal to that of the most passionate among French majors and excelled at a level to a par with the best of them," says Laurence Enjolras, associate professor of French. "The French Consulate in Boston Excellence Award crowns as much his talent as his resolve."