Reflections from Paris

Paisley Piasecki, a junior majoring in advertising, is spending this semester studying abroad in Paris, and here shares her reflections on the Paris attacks in the City of Light.

 “On ne vient bien qu’avec le coeur”

“We see well only with the heart.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

Although we have suffered from such a horrible event, the city of Paris has never been stronger.   I could recount what happened and where I was at the moment of the attacks, but that is not the focus of conversation here. The way in which the citizens have responded to the attacks has been the most inspiring part of the situation. It has also shown me, on a cultural level, how different countries respond to these kinds of events.

The conversation happening in France about the attacks has either stopped or is now focused on Francois Hollande, the nation’s president. When you walk into a room the conversation does not go to “Where were you during the attacks?” In fact, conversation about the attacks is rare. No outbreaks of violence or protest. No ongoing fights between citizens. What seems in play is an overall understanding of being ready to thrive and move forward. We are not afraid. We are continuing to live, and besides the city being a little quieter, there are no distinct changes in our way of life. The terrorists exist to evoke “terror” and to make us divided, but France has never been more united.

As a communications student living through the attacks, it is fascinating to observe firsthand how the American media advertises the situation. Yes, it is very tragic. It was the most terrifying night of my life. Still, if this week was really as terrible as the American media has displayed it to be, I wouldn’t be in Paris right now. I have friends and family asking worriedly why I just don’t come home, but the truth is that I have no reason to return. We are at peace. With everything the government has done to keep us safe, I’m very glad I am here to witness the events and to see how Paris will evolve under these new circumstances–whether they are social, political, or even types of change we cannot predict.

Paris is still Paris, and it continues to be a symbol of elegance. This country has handled the events with strength and grace. If there is anything I can advise my American friends to do during this time, it is to live with these same goals. Be kind and patient with each other. Be open to each other’s feelings and how your peers may respond to the attacks and their influence on our country. Be careful when necessary, but live without fear. Everything will be just fine.

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