It’s difficult to imagine that almost a week has passed since we said goodbye in Paris. As we reflect upon the weeks we had together in the City of Lights, we are so pleased and inspired that each of you in this group embraced the city and its vibrant cultural scene with such openness and enthusiasm. While each of you pursued your individual interests during free time, it appeared to us that in both our group activities and your singular explorations, each of you found your own Paris and explored it fully in the short time you had. This is the true goal of a full-immersion study abroad program, especially one like ours which we have designed to use the City as Text, Classroom, and personal Laboratory. Even given the different levels of previous exposure to the French language, each of you fully engaged and pushed yourselves toward a higher level of linguistic proficiency. Likewise, many of you were exposed to Art History for the first time; and your enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity throughout the many museum- and site-visits continued to increase with each passing day. This is a professor’s dream, and we are so grateful for your positive energy, openness and willingness to engage with the subjects at hand. We suspect many of you will continue to travel and perhaps return to Europe and/or Paris someday. We hope we have given you the tools to meaningfully engage with less familiar cultures and people and to fully embrace the beauty and richness of exposure to diverse backgrounds and histories. In the current international political climate that promotes division, imposed borders, and fear of the “other,” the ability to positively contribute and participate in a truly rich dialogue of culture is an important step toward global peace. We hope this study abroad opportunity is the first of many steps in this direction for each of you.
Profs. Jennifer Cadero-Gillette and Carole Salmon