From France to the Congo to Canada, Cyril Tirandaz has been far and wide on his travels. But he took time during his cross-Canada journey to stop at Fort Frances High School last week.
He treated Dave Shuh’s grade 9/10 French Immersion/geography class to a presentation about his travels through French-speaking Africa.
With a beautiful slide presentation and tales of his travels, the guest from Lyon, France delivered a geography lesson and a message of cultural tolerance—all “en francais,” of course.
“I think the students really enjoyed it,” said Shuh. “They asked him many good questions.”
Shuh also noted the timing was perfect.
“My students had just finished a project about Africa, and they were about to start a novel about it, as well,” he said. “It was good for them to get a first-hand account of what it’s like there.”
Long before he started his trip across Canada, Tirandaz had his sights set on Africa. “Ever since I was young, I always wanted to go [there],” he said. “I have a lot of affection for Africa and African people.”
After saving his money for several years, Tirandaz made his dream come true in 1995 when he left for the “Dark Continent,” noting he stayed with an uncle and aunt in the French Congo for a while.
Tirandaz explored much of the French-speaking countries during his three years spent in Africa. “I had been to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guyana, Mali, and Congo,” he related.
Tirandaz started travelling across Canada in August.
“I started off on the Atlantic Coast—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Cape Breton Island—for the month of August,” he noted.
He travelled throughout Quebec during September, and then started on Northern Ontario at the beginning of October, stopping in Sudbury, North Bay, and Thunder Bay en route here.
“Eventually, I will end up in British Columbia by November,” he said.
While in Fort Frances, Tirandaz stayed with Gareth and Susan Jones.
“It’s always a pleasure to accommodate anyone coming through,” said Gareth Jones. “It’s always nice to have people such as [Cyril] speak within the community.”
Tirandaz also is a practitioner of the Baha’i faith, which has tied in well with his desire to travel.
“Before I go into any country, I contact the Baha’i Institute [in Israel] and see if there are fellow Baha’is I could contact who could provide me with a place to stay,” he noted.
Tirandaz sometimes has spoken on issues such as equality between the sexes and racial harmony.
“In some of the African regions, there are sometimes conflicts based on ethnic issues. It is important to promote understanding,” he stressed.
As a case in point, Tirandaz recalled when he first entered a particular Bantu village in the Congo. “I was the first white person seen by the Bantu children and they were very afraid,” he noted. “They screamed and hid behind their mothers’ skirts.
“But after I stayed for a while, we sat down and I showed them pictures of their own country,” he continued. “Their reactions were wonderful—the children were delighted.”
Although Tirandaz doesn’t push his views during his lectures and presentations, he does like to educate people in the interest of overcoming personal and social differences.
“If there is one human race, we can tackle the world’s problems in a concentrated and effective way,” he said.