BiographyPhoto by Alex Gutierrez (CC By 4.0)
Gianmarco Agostinone is a senior at Florida International University pursuing a combined Bachelors and Masters degree in computer science. It is his second study abroad, the first being Italy 2018. He plans on going into fintech (Financial Technology) after he graduates at a major banking institution.
Paris As Text
Paris, A City Like No Other by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Paris on July 7th 2019
CC by 4.0
Paris, a city of great power and rich history. Founded over 2000 years ago by the Romans, it went from a weak and unorganized settlement to the cultural powerhouse it is today. It is the birthplace of many of today’s ideologies that we find to be basic rights. Documents such as Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen showed the world that the times of Monarchies stripping the rights of the many for the privilege of the few was over. This city lead the revolution not only in France but in all of Europe.
These achievements have neither been forgotten nor have ended in this city. As it is still recognized by the world for its triumphs, evident by the fact that over 40 million people visit the city a year to see for themselves the greatness it has become. Monuments such as the Notre Dame, are a testimony for Paris’s strength. It was built to show Paris’s power and beauty and today is still seen as such an influential monument that when it caught flames it was not just a tragedy for Paris but for the world.
But Paris is not only revered for its past but also its present. It leads the world with progressive ideas on improving the overall quality of life for its people. It provides amenities such as Universal Healthcare, free education, vast amounts of public parks, vast investments into the arts, affordable and good public transportation, and more. Paris has out shown, and will continue to outshine, cities around the world.
Versailles As Text
The Sun King by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Versailles on July 7th 2019
CC by 4.0
Who was the Sun King?
Was he a power hungry dictator?
A man who wanted nothing else but to fulfill selfish and personal goals at the cost of his people?
Or was he a visionary?
Someone who knew that he had to put the immediate needs of the people second to the greater good of the country?
To understand this we must look further than his reasons and reflect on the outcome of his actions.
For when we look back at history, intent is always triumphed by the result.
So who was the Sun King?
He created a palace like no other.
One that strikes awe in friends and foes alike.
One so grandeur and magnificent that people from all over come to see it for themselves.
With a garden so vast that one could visit it a thousand times and it will never grow old.
He conquered his enemies.
Crushed the foreign legions who threatened his reign.
But he also waisted away his people’s coin.
Spent them on lavish things and unnecessary wars that although brought prosperity to France, took from the pockets of its people.
Yet they never ceased to adore him.
So who was the Sun King?
He was feared by his enemies.
He was envied by his allies.
He was loved by his people.
He was more than a man.
He was King Louis IV and he was a god.
Izieu As Text
Maison d’izieu by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Izieu on July 15th 2019
CC By 4.0
The Maison d’izieu was a unique place.
One where children, who were persecuted and hunted down for nothing more than the religion their family practiced, could seek shelter.
Parents from all over France, sent their kids there in hope that they can have a better life and make it through this genocide their people were undergoing.
And it did work, for a time.
The Maison d’izieu was like an unaffected bubble in the war zone that surrounded them.
The kids their were able to attend classes, partake in activities, and enjoy life without the constant overhead threat that in any second all of their joy could be taken away.
They could live their lives as the normal kids they are and should be thought of as.
But one day that all changed.
When Klaus Barbie ordered his Gestapo thugs to raid the refugee.
Where they kidnapped 44 of the children and their 7 supervisors to send them away to camps.
Where they sent them to murder them.
It is a sick and disturbing idea that someone can justify to themselves that butchering children is okay.
There is no cause that should condone that.
Because children can’t harm anyone.
They don’t fight wars or commit crimes or join resistance fighters.
They just want to play outside and go to school and be with their friends and family.
So what happened at Maison d’izieu was more than just a thing that happens in war.
It was a crime against humanity.
And should not be forgotten.
Lyon As Text
The Letter by Gianmarco Agostinone of FIU in Lyon on July 15th 2019
CC By 4.0
I write to you, hoping that one day you will be able to read this. Hoping that one day we can reunite and live the rest of our lives together. Everyday I stay in my this hell hole they call Montluc, I feel my despair grow inside me. All day I am stuck in a cell with 7 others, never seeing the light of day, waiting for something, anything to happen. My cellmates and I pass the time talking of our families, our pastimes, our memories, anything to keep the reality of where we are from overwhelming us. Everyday I replay my memories of us together, wishing we can make new ones soon. Everyday I think about how this could have happened to us. How people let these men take us from our homes because of the religion we practice and the ideologies we preach. How do these things justify our imprisonment? If I could go back in time and change my beliefs I would if that meant I would be at home with you and not here in this hell. But here we are. Today they called my name out from a list, and that we were to leave in the afternoon. No one knows where, or why they told us to leave our belongings behind, but we can only wish for the best. And wish that one day we will reunite, and forget these horrible days.