Yahnell Judah: France as Text 2019

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Yahnell Judah is a senior at FIU majoring in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies with minors in Psychology and Chemistry. She will be graduating in Fall of 2019 and plans to attend graduate school to obtain her doctorates in Biomedical Sciences. Since her programs are primarily math and science focused, Yahnell hopes to learn more about European perspectives concerning the humanities, including art and culture. Below are her As Text assignments.

PARIS AS TEXT

Sainte Chapelle by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Paris on July 3rd, 2019

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La vie en rose

Soft light passing through painted glass

Soul transposed

Solid gold housing the Crown of Thorns

Adorns

A chapel for cultural first class

La vie en rose

The King enters and the worshippers rise

All on one’s toes

Knowledge from scripture presented

Dissected

By the worshippers eyes

La vie en rose

Shards of light run through scenes subject to be changed

Not in accordance to prose

The people are illiterate

Ignorant

Not noticing the end of the story deranged  

La Bible en rose

The religion of the people sat at the throne

Holiness dragged to new lows

The power of the crown undermined

Refined

For King Louis the Ninth to own

VERSAILLES AS TEXT

Marie Antoinette and Her Home by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Versailles on July 7th, 2019

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Marie Antoinette is one of the most judged figures that we have studied in French history so far, however, I sympathize with her. She was born in 1755 to a Holy Roman Empire and an Empress and was promised to the next King of France at a very young age. Of course she developed a taste for extravagance because she knew of nothing else, she was never built to sleep in a bed any less grand than the one she had and never meant to stay in housing any less grand than Versailles. Her time as royalty in France was wrought with unfulfillment as she was given little to no duties that were of any importance so she invested her time and money into her interests such as fashion. I do not think this excused her actions, because she still committed heinous acts such as using state money to continue to build Versailles as she wanted it to be while a large percentage of her population was starving. The country spent 20% of their national income on maintaining Versailles and I could only imagine how that would look to commoners whose children were dying. However, I find it important to note that her excessive spending was not the only cause of France’s debt, the country was also helping in foreign war that was very draining on their resources. Versailles and specifically Marie Antoinette became a scapegoat for all of the country’s problems. The Royalty and advisors of France at the time were obviously mismanaging money especially when it came to benefiting themselves and leading the country to the ground but I believe Marie Antoinette and the hideouts she created in Versailles receive an unfair portion of the blame. She was ignorant to the problems of the people and this is evident in Versailles and this created hatred for her, but I’m not sure if she deserved to be blamed in the entirety that she did.

IZIEU AS TEXT

A Letter to Albert Bulka by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Izieu on July 12th, 2019

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To Albert,

You were the youngest of the children taken from your refuge by monsters, robbed of your childhood, innocence and the remainder of your life. On the 6th of April, 1944, Gestapo agents raided what was home to you under the orders of Klaus Barbie. You were arrested and dragged off and murdered for no other reason than simply because you existed. I can’t help but think of my younger siblings when I hear about your story. I love them more than anything in this world and I’m not sure what I would do if they were taken from me in such a way. When they were your age, they used to like to color and draw pictures, just like you did. I’m sure your older brother played games with you too, just like I did with my younger siblings. I feel for your parents also; they were just trying to give you a better life than the one that they were living. I don’t know how anyone could see you as a threat; you were just five years old. You and the other 43 children taken with you deserved to live out a fulfilling life, one not cut short by hatred. I wish you could see that Barbie did have to pay for his crimes against you and yours, even if it wasn’t near all that he deserved. His crimes against humanity will not be forgotten and I hope that the preservation of the memory of what he did to you can help it to not happen again in the future. For the first time since the early 1950s, far right officials have been elected in high positions in governments in several European countries and the United States. But I have hope, because we continue to honor your memory and the memory of others that went through the tragedies of the Holocaust.

Love,

Yahnell

LYON AS TEXT

The Lazar Family by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Lyon on July 10th, 2019

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Hearing the tragedies that occurred during the Holocaust always makes me more aware of the hatred that humans have the capability to use to destroy the lives of others. Senseless hatred spread across several countries like wildfire, making people turn their backs on their neighbors, on their friends, on the principles of humanity and the idea that every person deserves to a chance to live. The events of this mass murder and imprisonment seem too preposterous to be true, yet it did happen and it happened with a violent amount of support. No single tragedy makes me wonder how humans can be so cruel more than the violence against children. The Lazar family was captured and held in Montluc. I stood in the same cell that the mother of the family tried to comfort her four children in. I thought of how impossible that task must’ve been, when they’re just children who don’t understand what is happening and aren’t being allowed to stand in the light of day through no fault of their own. The youngest of these children was just four years old. Only four years old. Francine Lazar probably never got the chance to spend time in school and learn and grow with children her age. She was robbed of any childhood she would have had a chance of remembering. Her years of coloring and learning to ride a bike and tripping over her own shoelaces at the playground were cut short for no other reason than hatred for her background. The entire family was sent to Auschwitz on the 3rd of February 1944 and they were never seen again. May the Lazar Family Rest In Peace.

 

Normandy as Text

General Lesley James McNair by Yahnell Judah of FIU in The Normandy Cemetery on July 23rd, 2019

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Here lies General Lesley James McNair

Nicknamed “The Unsung Architect of the U.S Army”

Even just a few years before WWII, the U.S Army was weak, disorganized, and lacking in technological advances that were present in other countries. However, during the first year America was in the war, the army was able to invade North Africa. In the second year, they were able to help boot Italy out of the war for good and in the third year, the army found itself on the border of Germany, helping to defeat Hitler. Many attribute this military success to factors other than characteristics of the army but the truth is, the leaders of the army forged a miracle. A miracle that involved the organization of the army to make it into a mighty force on the battlefield. One of the designers of this miracle: Lesley James McNair.

McNair was born in 1883 as the second of six children. His family moved from Verndale to Minneapolis, Minnesota to provide a better education for their children and it is from here that McNair graduated high school. He started his studies at the University of Minnesota School of Business while waiting to be accepted to the U.S Military Academy.

In his early career, he gained experience with laboratory and practical experimentation and used it to identify the best materials to use in the production of cannons and other weapons. His background in statistical analysis and engineering helped him with these projects. In the first WW, he was in charge of pre-deployment mobilization and individual soldier training and was assigned to the American Expeditionary Forces. At age 35, he became the youngest military general in the army.

In 1940, McNair began his new position as chief of staff for general headquarters, which eventually derived into the army ground forces, which he commanded. It is in this position that McNair really showed his worth. His duties grew significantly and it was in this position that he was able to expand the army’s ground forces from 780,000 men in 1942 to 8 million by 1945

I personally admire him for so many reasons, one being his well- roundedness. He was able to use scientific methods to analyze metals used for weapons and identify the best to use depending on the purpose. His background in business helped him with the statistical analyses of this research. He was also creative, helping plan and administer large scale war games that helped the army make adjustments to their strategies and doctrine. Being a well rounded person is something that I aim for in life, although I have fallen short. With McNair as an example, I know it is possible to combine disciplines like science, business, and creative thinking, to further a single goal. I also admire him because he was the youngest general at age 35 and he never let issues like his age get in the way of his success. Being a minority in several ways sometimes I feel as though I have to work twice as hard to prove that I am capable of what everyone else is. Even though McNair was not an ethnic minority, he was doubted heavily because of his age and he too had to work twice as hard to prove that he was just as good. McNair serves as an example to me to not allow how others perceive me to hinder what I know that I can do.

McNair is also uncredited for what he did concerning African American soldiers. At a time of segregation there were soldiers, known as Buffalo Soldiers, who were not allowed to train, fight, or die for their country next to their white counterparts. Since they were often seen as incompetent, their training sometimes lasted two years when white soldiers were trained and used within months. Lesley McNair was one of the first people in the army to advocate for their usefulness and helped to get them into battle. Although segregation in the military did not end until after WWII, McNair helped to start the movement.

I’ve never heard of McNair mentioned in my general WWII education, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn more about him, his personal story and his contributions to what makes the United States and the world a better place. He has influenced me not just as a motivational role model for what I can do for my country, but he has also help change how my people are viewed in society. Because of him and other heroes of WWII, I am able to live my life the way I do.

PÈRE LACHAISE AS TEXT

Jean Francois Champollion by Yahnell Judah of FIU in Père Lachaise on July 26th , 2018

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Jean Francois Champollion

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most widely known artifacts in the British Museum and for a long time it was known to hold writing from three ancient languages including hieroglyphics, but it could not be decoded. This was until Jean Francois Champollion, also known as the Father of Egyptology.

Jean Francois Champollion was born in Frigeac, France on December 23rd, 1790. He was always very studious and had an interest in languages, attempting to learn multiple, including Hebrew and Chinese, on his own. At just ten years old, he was sent to Grenoble to study and at age 16, he made a proposal concerning the language of Coptic Christians to the Grenoble Academy. Although some of his proposal was disproved years later, scholars still consider it to be an important stepping stone. He continued his education and even started teaching at the young age of 19. He earned a chair position at the Royal College of Grenoble and even gained the patronage of French kings. With this, he was able to travel to Egypt once in his life.

Champollion raced to decode hieroglyphics because his quest was not exclusive, other scholars were also attempting to read the lost language at the time. His first discovery in decoding was that some of the symbols stood for phonetic sounds and were part of an alphabet while other symbols were just visual representations of physical things. He did not study just the Rosetta Stone, however, it did play a very large role in his eventual full decoding. With this success, the world was able to understand not just the Rosetta Stone, but hieroglyphics on everything from ancient tombs to obelisks.

Even though we share almost no characteristics, physically or as a matter of background, I relate to his story. He was sent away to study at a very young age and that is a beautiful thing but can also come with some issues. Always being a year or two younger than everyone in my class growing up, I was always at a different stage in mental and emotional development and that was only a slight age difference. Even though studies were usually started at a younger age than what is the norm today, Champollion was still extremely young. Being sent away to study must have been challenging at the age of ten but it is impressive that he got through it and even became a professor by the age of nineteen which even at that time was very unusual.

Another reason I admire him is because of his legacy. It is not extremely obvious how it affects my day to day actions as a young woman in America like how the actions of many of the soldiers buried in Normandy do, however, he did have a global impact in discovering and helping to uncover the secrets of a civilization that has had a lasting impact on most of the world today. I admire that he is remembered for his hard work and dedication. Anyone studying Egypt today even, knows of Champollion because he was just that influential. There are people buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery that are remembered for other than what they did with their life. For example, Victor Noir is more so remembered for the statue over his grave instead of his work as a journalist and Jean Jacques Regis de Cambaceres is more renown for his vanity and homosexuality before he is regarded for his time developing Napoleonic law. I want my legacy to be based on the effort that I put into my work, rather than characteristics of myself that are out of my control. For that, I consider Champollion to be motivation for me in my studies and research.

 

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