Vanessa Malatesta
A person who’s had a place on the world stage, took to our own stage at the McLaughlin Theater. Saint Ignatius College Prep hosted former French President François Hollande, who served the people of France from 2012 to 2017.  

Members of the Saint Ignatius Language Department had the opportunity to share a table with Hollande as he answered questions from students and staff. They also translated for the full auditorium when he did not speak English.  To that end, Hollande said “French has a richness that gets lost in English translation. French is necessary for universal culture.” Hollande encouraged the French students who were there, to continue to learn the language.

The 24th President of France also talked about how life after leading his country is taking shape.

“After my presidential term, I wanted to support our youth, particularly youth and social justice,” said Hollande, who works to fundraise and support projects in that space.  He spoke about his  recent book, Bouleversements and delved into politics. 

Hollande told the crowd he believes that the world’s young people are the individuals responsible for fighting for democracy. He said he became a politician in the first place because of the inspiration around him when he was young.

In responding to questions, Hollande shared lessons from his presidency. 

“I learned you have to work for the best, but you have to be ready to handle the worst,” reflected Hollande. He talked about the need to be proactive – another presidential lesson. 

He framed his comments around current global events and issues such as the war in Ukraine, climate change and relations with Russia and China. 

One of the final questions the global leader answered was about faith. He said the separation between Church and State is necessary, but that faith is important in democracy. 

“It teaches us how to live together and respect each other,” said  Hollande.

After all the talk time, Hollande took personal time with students and teachers to sign books, share short stories and take pictures. The gracious guest made a positive impression on the Wolfpack community. 

“The French department is grateful for the opportunity to engage with our language of study in a real world context,” said French teacher, Kellye Guzik, “This was an unforgettable experience that students will remember for a lifetime.” 


Saint Ignatius College Prep

Saint Ignatius College Prep, a Jesuit Catholic school in the heart of Chicago, is a diverse community dedicated to educating young men and women for lives of faith, love, service and leadership.