Marie-France Desir: France as Text 2019

Photo by Alex Guiterrez

Marie-France Desir is currently a junior at Florida International University’s Honors college. She is currently pursuing a bachelor in businessess administration with a major in Marketing and a minor in Social Media Marketing. She is currently participating in the France Study Abroad 2019 to expand her knowledge of the culture, the history, and the art.

The following are her reflections during the France Study Abroad trip 2019.



The Global Tower by Marie-France Desir of FIU in Parc Du Champs De Mars on July 3rd, 2019

Photo by Alex Gutierrez

Once upon a time, The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world. Built in 1887, it was never expected to last over 100 years. It defied all expectations that were created for it, it defied all words that categorized it as ugly and not artistic, and it defied the religious notion that was the foundation of France during that time. Born in the age of the Enlightenment period, it was a sore for eyes for those who classified beauty in a different manner. It also created a controversial conversation that helped shatter the constricting religious boundaries that were faced during that time.  It started a conversation that brought people from around the world just to see exactly what France and what Paris was doing to make a change.

That is exactly what I felt at the moment, sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower at 23:00, watching it glow and sparkle. It was also the first night that let me see exactly what kind of people came just see this magnificent tower that once upon a time, was just a scrap of metal to some. Around me where the people of Paris, the people of France, and overall just people around the world. Some people came with family, friends, or their lovers, sitting on the lawn as if it was just a normal Parisian night. While others came from across the world just to see this magical event that only last five minutes at the start of the hour. However, it is clear that those five minutes will last forever to them. Sitting on the lawn waiting for this tower that has brought hundreds and thousands of people every day from almost every part of the world to light up, I took a moment to appreciate the world shattering and defying change and statement the Eiffel Tower consisted of, on that one night in Paris.

Versailles as Text

Inside a Woman’s Room by Marie-France Desir of FIU in Versailles on July 7th, 2019

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The most memorizing parts of Versailles were the parts that were especially influenced by some woman, such as the Petit Train and the Queen’s chambers. One woman who had taste and style, yet it destroyed her reputation with her people who would eventually hold such a grudge that eventually would cost her life. Marie Antionette was a decadent women who loved money and style.  Some would say her taste was a little too extravagant, especially on the budget she was spending. However, as a Queen, Marie-Antionette did not care about such little matters such as money, and felt that it was her duty to live her lavish life to be able to be the best Queen she could be. Her taste and style is seen in her bedroom at Versailles and created a little getaway for herself with the Petit Trianon.

As soon as you walk into the bedroom you can clearly see that there is no wall that is left bare.  The Queen’s quarters was created to highlight the style and taste of the queen. It was designed to make sure that each wall was covered with a design that was as out-going as her. There are two large chandeliers that loom over the room while the walls and ceilings are covered in a floral decoration and glistening gold crowns on the edges. The creation of Versailles was built by a man, but there happened to be small little getaways that highlight the artistic taste of the Queen’s who reside in them, such as a woman’s room.


The Children by Marie-France Desir of FIU at Maison d’Izieu

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Throughout history, wars tend to consist of lots of death and in other terms simply just genocide. In classrooms, there are always mentions of the murders of women and children, yet their stories are never really told. Rarely are the names, photos, or stories of what occurred to the children brought to light. This could be due to the fact of the sensitivity of the subject because no one wants to imagine their children being murdered or tortured. But in most countries, where genocide has occurred, there are children whose lives were taken away before they have ever lived.

Growing up, I always knew the story of the Holocaust and understood the number of lives that were taken away, but never did I really encounter the story of the children. The Maison d’Izieu housed a little over 100 children during the time of the anti-semantic laws. Families all over Europe would send their children in hope that they were safe and would survive. This is similar to how my family came to the United States. When violence and corruption were engulfing Haiti, my dad sent our family to the United States to be safe while he stayed back until he could come and rejoin his family. Luckily for us, our dad did not have to find out that his children were arrested and murdered like the children in Izieu. Forty-four young and innocent kids were arrested and eventually murdered on April 6th, 1944. Their names and most of their faces are memorialized in Izieu, yet their stories are not as known as they should be.

Looking at their drawings and sketches inside the room, it’s clear that these kids were expressive, creative, and had a good heart. They clearly understood what kind of situation they were living in, but everyone still tried to make the most of a horrible situation. Everyone should remember the faces and the names of the children who were taken away. Not only to simply be more educated of time in the war but for their families and their memory.


Home By Marie-France Desir of FIU at the city of Lyon

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The peaceful city in between the two rivers, its buildings made of gold rock, and arguably the city that host the best views of sunsets, led me to fall in love in just the matter of four days. However, it wasn’t the ice cream, the food, or the beautiful scenery that made me fall in love. It was its rich history and the people that fought for their lives that impressed me.

Meeting people such as Claude Bloch and Laurent and hearing their story and their family’s stories made me appreciate what the city of Lyon had overcome and how they have built something beautiful over their tragedy.

Both Claude Bloch and Laurent’s family stayed in Lyon despite the painful hardships they faced there. Claude Bloch lost his mother and grandfather at such a young age, while also managing to survive concentration camps on his own. However, he did not let them take his humanity and he held on to the idea that he was not the animal the Nazi’s claimed him to be. Now, he stays in Lyon, his home, where he created a large and beautiful family, and where he has been able to tell his story to people from all across the world.

Laurent stayed in Lyon, the place in which his mother ended up in Montluc after being an agent of the French resistance. His mother risked her life being a part of the French resistance due to her being a Jew, and the very active role she played in the resistance. The role she played as a woman in the French resistance is an amazing story that is being recognized in history and her story should be told over and over again. It is empowering to see how people of different ages and genders had come together for one common goal.

As I think about their stories and the situations they were in, I wonder if I could have stayed in a country in which I felt so much tragedy and pain. If I could still, consider that place my home. This is what amazes me about Lyon, the people there are so proud and are so a part of Lyon that no matter what, it will always be there home, and they will always fight to save it.

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