Letter to FIAF

I discovered this while going through some stuff in an old box.

Back in 2006 I was working part time for FIAF or French Institute Alliance Française. Among other inane tasks, I was in charge of opening random mail. One day, I got a letter from a prison inmate in California. In itself, that would be pretty interesting, but this letter was also special because I have never quite seen handwriting as beautiful as this.
Click on the image for a (much) larger version so you can see the penmanship.
[transcript after the break]

 

Sept 19, 2006

French Institute / Alliance Française
To whom it may concern:

I just came across your address in an old almanac and I had to write you to see if you could help me.

You see recently I started reading and studying French because one; I have plenty of time on my hands and two I have always admired everything French, especially the language.

I am currently studying French from this book titled “French step by step” by Chalres Berlitz and so far I’ve learned many words and sentences however I feel that I would learn faster if I could hear the language and speak it but since I’m in prison there isn’t anyone who speaks it.

Well I’m wondering if you offer any c.d.’s that could help me to learn this beautiful language and if you do could you please send me a catalog. Also do you have any free literature about your organization and what you are all about.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my letter.

[his
   address
          was
               here ]

Sincèrement,
Ruben Vasquez

I smudged out the address in the bottom left of the letter, in case you’re wondering what that is.

Nobody from FIAF ever responded to him. I talked to a coworker about writing back to him, but we agreed that it would not be a good idea. More than just information about learning French, this person is looking for someone to talk to, and writing back once would be making a commitment to keep writing. But I couldn’t bring myself to throw the letter away. And then I forgot about it, until I found it among old papers.

 

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