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Sākumlapa NewsThe director of the Vocational Secondary School is awarded the Order of Academic Palms of the French Republic
The director of the Vocational Secondary School is awarded the Order of Academic Palms of the French Republic

At a solemn ceremony at the French Embassy in Riga, the director of the Jelgava Vocational Secondary School, Edīte Bišere, was awarded the Order of Academic Palms of the French Republic. In recognition of her contribution to international cooperation in the field of education and the promotion of French cultural heritage, the high award was presented to E. Bišere by the French Ambassador to Latvia, Aurélie Royet-Gounin.

The Order of Academic Palms of France is one of the most prestigious and oldest civil awards in France. The announcement of the award to E. Bišere cited her long-standing commitment in her role as the director of the Jelgava Vocational Secondary School, highlighting her facilitation of cooperation between Latvia and France over many years, involving students, teachers, and experts. Additionally, her efforts in promoting the French language in Latvia were acknowledged.

“I am deeply honored by this award, but I want to emphasize that the achievements so far are the result of the joint efforts of the Jelgava Education Administration, city leadership, and our entire school team. It is thanks to my colleagues, educators, and students that we have been able to continue our collaboration with French educational institutions over the years, participating in international projects and thus ensuring the exchange of experiences and skills in various educational fields and formats,” E. Bišere expressed, adding that longstanding supporters like the French Embassy in Latvia, the Jelgava City Council, and the Rueil-Malmaison City Council have also played a significant role in this collaboration.

E.Bišere acknowledges that the roots of this collaboration can be traced back to 2007 when a large delegation of officials and entrepreneurs from the French city of Rueil-Malmaison arrived for the “French Spring” festival in Latvia. Discussing potential forms of cooperation, the city administration invited French chef Bruno Chaperon to the Vocational Secondary School to share his experience in the restaurant and confectionery industry.

“The collaboration with Bruno Chaperon turned out to be truly significant for our school. Sixteen years ago, his expertise and professional skills helped us refine the development direction of our educational institution and, at the same time, provided opportunities for our students to intern in France,” noted E. Bišere. In the following years, with the involvement of the Rueil-Malmaison City Council, collaboration projects became increasingly extensive.

Currently, the Vocational Secondary School has signed a cooperation agreement with four French professional educational institutions: the Rueil-Malmaison Training Center for metalworking and construction, the Santos-Dumont Hotel Management and Economics High School, the Marie Laurencin Vocational School in Paris, and the Nanteres Hairdressing and Aesthetics Institute. The collaboration covers all study programs offered by the Jelgava Vocational Secondary School, including culinary arts, confectionery, metalworking, stylists, and hairdressers. Over 200 students have participated in internships, exchange projects, and events in France.

In awarding the honor, the “Erasmus+” project implemented by the school, particularly the “Dinner at the Palace,” was highlighted. In this project, educators and students from three countries researched historical foods, the origins of various products, table culture, and prepared and presented dinners in a palace. Before the practical events, each party prepared extensive informative presentations on various cultural aspects, serving as study materials for the participants. Applying the acquired knowledge, students, along with project participants from France and Italy, hosted dinners at Rundāle Palace. More than 70 people, including the ambassadors of Italy, Switzerland, and Canada to Latvia, as well as representatives from the French Embassy, were invited to the dinner. It should be noted that the young people from the Jelgava Vocational Secondary School not only hosted guests but also learned and went on visits to Italy and France. The culmination of the event was the meeting of the participants at the Palace of Versailles, where they jointly prepared festive dinners.

“International experience over many years has contributed to the professional development of both our school’s youth and educators. If we once traveled to learn, now we are pleased that in exchange trips, we also set an example,” summarized E. Bišere, reflecting on the benefits of collaboration.

It is worth mentioning that E. Bišere was awarded the Knight’s degree of the Order of Academic Palms of the French Republic. This is one of the three degrees honoring contributions of over 10 years. The award was presented at the French Embassy in Latvia.

The Order of Academic Palms of France was established by decree on October 4, 1955, replacing the previously existing award created by Napoleon I in 1808 for representatives of universities. In 1866, the rules for awarding this honor were changed, allowing individuals who were not university faculty but made outstanding contributions to education to receive it. The Order of Academic Palms of France can also be awarded to foreigners and French citizens residing abroad who actively promote French culture worldwide.