I used to dream about stepping foot in the City of Romance.
My French teacher would teach us words like “cheveux” and “pamplemousse” but I was far less intrigued with pronunciation than I was with dreaming up fantastic thoughts of what it would be like to go there. I wondered what it would be like to taste dainty pastries and wear sophisticated muted tones of turtlenecks.
And Oh God! I could only wonder what it would be like to see the Louvre! Probably I would have to touch a lot of art. It’s a rule I live by…maybe a challenge I give myself – always touch the art when the guard isn’t looking. Because I never really feel like I experience art until I can feel its ancient canvas in my hands.
And then I would probably get caught by adorable little French Police and they would say “non non mademoiselle s’il vous plait ne touchez pas l’art.” And I would understand them because of my advanced high school French education and I would astonish them as they separated me from the stereotypical American tourist as I coyly reply “oh mon dieu, my bad.”
So anyway, Paris was attacked recently, along with many westerners’ dreams. And we can’t leave out cities like Beirut, Lebanon and Bamako, Mali whom ISIS did not want to keep exempt from their game.
I hate hearing about hurting humans and it’s easy to get cynical (if you’re like me) or feel angry or overwhelmed because you feel powerless to change the terrible things going on in the world. So I began to question are we really at the mercy of hate crimes, of whatever terrorist group decides to act next? Are there things we can do in our own communities to truly effect change?
These are some of the questions I brought to French Professor and friend, Audra. She calls France her second home and has started working with humanitarian groups on campus who travel to third world countries.
She offered some fresh practical solutions that can help “change the atmosphere around us.“