The initiative is called Share Ami (Share Friend) and aims to “create intergenerational links by connecting students learning French and elderly living in France over video chat,” according to their website.
By mixing the English word 'share' and ami, the French word for 'friend', this initiative is a wordplay on 'sharing' and 'Dear friend' ('share' in English sounds like cher/chère (dear) in French).
Oldyssey, the organisation behind the initiative, is an international organisation that wants to raise awareness about elderly worldwide and make their voices heard.
Open to all French learners
While targeted at students, this language-learning scheme is open to other groups. Anyone learning French abroad may sign up for the scheme, including asylum seekers.
The video below shows the exchange between Saif, a 22-year-old from Afghanistan, and Andréé, a 91-year-old Parisian woman.
One person who signed up for the initiative praised it as “the most wholesome thing”, in a tweet that got retweeted nearly 3,000 times and liked over 323,000 times.
oh my god so i signed up to this organisation thing where uni students studying french get paired with old people in france who are lonely to have conversations over skype and i just had my first one and it was the most WHOLESOME thing ???
— millie (@bagelpicbot) December 4, 2020
Oldyssey, which currently has a small French team consisting of six people including the two founders, responded to the tweet saying that it would take some time to respond to the surge in demands from eager French learners wanting to sign up following the tweet.
Wow ! Retour d'expérience d'une participante de #ShareAmi ! Merci @bagelpicbot ! Ça va nous prendre un peu de temps pour répondre à toutes les demandes qu'on vient de recevoir grâce à ce tweet, car nous ne sommes pas très nombreux dans l'équipe pour l'instant ! ☺️? https://t.co/SR5yxPMl3r
— Oldyssey (@Oldyssey) December 5, 2020