FRANCE, Day 4: Tuesday, 2014-01-07

By Jolena

Tuesday morning started with a trip back to the National Immigration Museum (or Citė Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration), a building that was a pavilion in the Exposition Universelle, for a posters workshop. We started by touring the media library in the back of the building, which housed a vast collection of multimedia (like books, films, lectures, etc.) surrounding the topic of immigration. The director described the importance of such a collection to the history and culture of the French people and the number of PhD and foreign students who came for research. To start the workshop, we sat down around a large table, covered with pre-selected posters regarding immigration, rights of citizens, and discrimination in France. After a short introduction on the significance of posters as easily accessible and simple to understand, we analyzed them in pairs using a worksheet (unfortunately written in French). The sheet, which asked questions about the text, pictures, messages, and functions of the posters, prompted us to look beyond the surface and think more deeply about the importance of this medium in history as well as currently. At the end, each group presented their findings in French and opened the discussion and interpretation up to the other members of the group. For example, on one poster, a photograph of a class of students, with certain students, both female and male, blacked out and labeled “deported,” suggested that many deported immigrants were children, which affected the education and schools. During the discussion, someone noted that the French flag, which is supposed to symbolize “liberté, égalité, et fraternité,” was an ironic element in the picture, considering many of the children in the picture were discriminated against and the motto of France was not upheld at all. The workshop ended with the viewing of other posters scattered around the media library and the promise that the posters would be sent to everyone in an email!

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In the afternoon we stopped by the Musée D’Orsay and saw the wonderful pieces of art, however most memorable was Danielle’s imitation of a moose from one of the portraits. After spending some time here, we visited a youth center in the 19th district. Here we were able to meet the director of the center who spoke to us and gave a tour of the site. We spent time with some of the women who told us about their lives, the difficulties they have encountered and how they have overcome them. Finally we were able to meet a group of young girls our age from the area who were very curious about our lives in America. They were very shocked when they discovered that we attended an all girls school. In one large group we spoke about various topics including stereotypes, tv shows, music and uniforms. Afterward, we enjoyed a meal prepared by the mothers and split into smaller groups where we were able to speak more comfortably in a combination of French, English, Spanish, and Arabic. The girls were very friendly and helped us when we made mistakes. Yasmeen was joined by a group of girls and had a conversation in Arabic and commented on how the food was “très good.” We finally said goodbye and headed back to the FIAP (and Christina bumped into the pole on our way home, causing those who witnessed the incident to laugh.)

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