I collected this footage during our program’s week-long trip to Paris. The footage is set to an old funk favorite of mine, ‘Watermelon Man,” from Herbie Hancock’s album Head Hunters. I chose this song because “Watermelon Man” is the shortest yet the catchiest track on the album, even though the entire album is incredible. Likewise, though this entire trip is incredible and all parts of it contribute to its wonder, this one short week in Paris is definitely one to remember.
Yes, we saw all the classic Paris things… I started the video with those clips because it establishes how exciting seeing Paris was for me. Half of us in the program had never been to Paris before, let alone Europe, so we had a lot of surreal feelings. I have been studying French for seven years, and have been learning about Paris since my first semester of my French education in my freshman year of high school… and it took me this long to get here. It was wild how much I had learned about Paris before ever visiting. I had accumulated so much knowledge about the city over long years of vocabulary lists, Parisian literature, and analysis of French politics. Luckily, our program director and North African politics professor were with us, who knew the city very well and were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides.
As the video progresses, it shows some more of the things I enjoyed most, which were the activities that were tailored to our program. We met with several incredible organizations and locations. First, we met with Génériques, which is an archival and academic organization that specializes in immigrants in France. We also met with Coéxister, an organization that promotes knowledge and understanding of immigrants and members of all religions in France, focusing particularly on Muslim and Jewish immigrants from the Arab world. Samia, the Coéxiter representative with whom we met, was a vibrant personality with an incredible wealth of knowledge and understanding for all peoples. Through Coéxister, we also met with young Muslim female entrepreneurs that are working in Paris, and we visited l’Institut des Cultures d’Islam, which was definitely a highlight of the trip. This building is located in the middle of a neighborhood in Paris that has a very rich immigrant population/culture, particularly from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. The building has a functioning mosque, a Hamam (traditional bath), and many incredible art exhibitions by Muslim artists. We also visited l’Institut du Monde Arabe, a museum that shows incredible aspects of Arab culture, focusing mostly on culture before immigration to France. We visited their current exhibit on “oriental gardens,” which was artistically mesmerizing. The next day, our tour guide, Zwina, walked us around the old Arab quarter of Paris. We also visited the Porte Dorée immigrant museum of Paris. Though we found several errors and biases in the museum’s presentations, it was an excellent opportunity to learn and interact with historical media.
We did many more things than what I show in the video, including visiting IES Abroad Paris’s Center, which was just a short walk away from our hotel. The staff at IES Abroad Paris were incredibly welcoming and full of wisdom.
The other students and I also explored Paris on our own and had many adventures. Some of them are shown in the video, such as our visits to the very fun and hip areas we learned about, Canal St. Martin and the Marais. We had los of good food and saw lots of great places, but I will say I spent more on necessities (food, transportation, meds, etc.) in this one week in Paris than I had spent my entire three and a half weeks in Rabat. Paris is EXPENSIVE! I am very happy to be back in Rabat, not only because prices are more reasonable, but because I missed my host family and the city.
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<p>Hi, my name is Adrienne Cecile, though many just know me as Ace. I am originally from Los Angeles, and I am now a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I specialize in biotechnology and Franco-Arab Studies. I have a huge passion for making art, particularly drawing and sewing. I spend a lot of my time at school at my arts fraternity, St. Anthony Hall, where I do community arts outreach and make a lot of art, of course. I am so excited to be in a Francophone country for the first time after studying French for eight years, and I cannot wait to learn Arabic and do independent research on minoritiy communities in Urban Morocco.</p>