Enya P. Pla – France as Text 2019

Photo by Alex Gutierrez

Enya P. Pla is a senior at Florida International University majoring in Biological Sciences and aims to become a physician. She is graduating in Spring 2020 and plans to continue her graduate studies in medicine. Besides science, Enya is also interested in business and plans to open her own business in the future. Attached below are her as Texts. 

Paris as Text:

Arc of Triomphe de’l Étoile – Photo by Gerardo Perez Rodriguez

“Idolizing the City of Love” by Enya Pla of FIU at Paris, France.

Some people suffer from a sort of syndrome that causes them to idolize cities they have never visited. I was one of them. I had always dreamed of visiting the city of love, Paris. This dream finally came true. Once in Paris, I discovered it was as precious as I thought but not as perfect as I imagined. As days passed, I tried to run away from this syndrome by immersing myself in the streets of this 2000-year-old city initially named by the Romans as Lutetia. My first experience as a Parisian was using the metro to move through the city. I learned how Parisians moved in the town and discovered that it was first opened in 1900 and that each one of its stations was named after a historical theme. Coming from a small country of 3 million people, taking the metro in a city that has 2.2 million people. I walked through the streets of this unique city and encountered the most magnificent thing my eyes had ever witnessed, the Arc of Triomphe de’l Étoile. I will never forget how I felt as my heart had skipped a beat. As beautiful it is, its history is unique. The design was originally introduced by the Romans and was used as a symbol of victory. After a battle was won armies walked under the arc as a symbol of glory. Its construction was ordered by Napoleon with the purpose of celebrating his troops, even though he ordered it its construction was delayed a few times and it wasn’t finished by the time he died in 1821. Under the arc, French officials carry out a ceremony of the unknown soldier, I was able to witness this ceremony honoring the soldiers that died in World War I. 

As big as it looks the size can’t even compare to the level of detail the arc possesses on the inside. Engraved on its walls I was able to observe a list of French generals and the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars. 

Everything was perfect in a way I could never have imagined. The way I managed to find my path in the city allowed me to discover how to overcome the syndrome and understood the city had nothing more precious than its reality. Through my first days in this city, I understood one has to travel and get lost rather than idolize the places we want to visit. 

Versailles as Text:

Versaille’s Gate – Photo by Enya Pla Serrano

“Walking the Sun King’s Path” by Enya Pla of FIU at Château de Versailles, France.

By walking through Château de Versailles, I was able to walk the halls and rooms as Louis XIV. I was able to feel the magnificence of the palace and its history. The glorifying vision of the Sun King, whose reign of seventy-two years led France to glory and success had been reflected in the creation of this château. As I immersed myself in the gardens’ beauty, I looked up at the sun and was reminded of Apollo, the sun god, and at that moment, I felt I was Louis XIV. For a moment, I got lost and encountered the majestic fountain of Leto. I couldn’t help to wonder why the king would choose such a design? I was surprised to discover how the king decided to incorporate Greco-Roman mythology as part of his power symbols. This fountain illustrates the childhood of Apollo and his twin sister Diana. Apollo’s mother, Leto, made Zeus punish a few peasants who were preventing them from quenching their thirst, and Zeus turned them into frogs. Each fountain tells a story, not of Apollo but Louis XVI, a story of power and luxury. Both the palace and gardens are the story of his life told through the beauty of nature.

Lyon as Text:

Photos by Enya Pla & ” El Vocero” Newspaper

”What Does It Mean To Be Resistant?” by Enya Pla of FIU at Montluc Prison in Lyon, France.

  • What does it mean to be resistant? Us individuals feel resistant towards oppressive governments. We feel the need to rise and take the matter into our own hands, much like Jean Moulin. Moulin was imprisoned as he refused to blame Senegalese soldiers for a crime they didn’t commit, demonstrating his will to sacrifice his life for what he stands for. After being incarcerated, he was later own liberated by the Vichy government and became a leader of the French Resistance.
  • On June 21, 1943, Moulin and three other Resistance fighters were arrested and sent to the Montluc Prison in Lyon. There, they were tortured by Klaus Barbie. When I visited Montluc, I encountered Moulin’s cell. His story was nailed to the wall, the story of a hero. A man who helps unite the French Resistance. While reading about his life, I embarked a journey of reflection. It made me reflect on what would I have done if I was in his place. Back home in Puerto Rico, I have been part of student strikes and manifestations, I have spoken on behalf of fellow students and have sacrificed months of study to fight for the injustices the government was implementing. Even though I fought for what I thought was right, the price wasn’t as high as Moulins.
  • I honestly wouldn’t know if I would have acted as bravely as he did. I can only hope that we and the generations to come will stand up and fight for what is right and look up to people like Jean Moulin.
  • Izieu as Text:

    Lucienne Friedler’s Memorial Plaque – Photo by Enya Pla

    “Dear Sabine” by Enya Pla Serrano of FIU at Maison d’Izieu, France.

    January 6, 1993

    Dear Sabine,

    I hope you are well; my name is Bella, Lucienne Friedler’s moth- er. I’ve wanting to write to you for five years now, but I didn’t want to bother you, I just wanted to write a few words, since Lu- cienne always spoke highly of you, you were as a mother for her. Before she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, she sent me a letter describing how happy she was with you at the colony.

    You do have to understand that when you and your husband opened the doors of the refuge in May 1943, you allowed them to stay safe and live their lives. At the refuge, the kids were able to learn, explore, and discover themselves through imagination. It was their safe place, their home.

    Lucienne would always send me letters and drawings and wrote about her ”brothers” and ”sisters.” Every time I received a letter, it reassured me she was safe and happy. Until I stopped receiving them.

    Days passed, and Lucienne’s letters stopped, I sent a letter that was never replied. No news about my daughter. Later on, I discovered that on April 6, 1944, the children and adults of the Izieu refuge were arrested and deported on orders given by Klaus Barbie. I knew my Lucienne was one of them; my heart broke into a million pieces. My daughter was my life.

    Even though I suffer my daughter’s loss every single day, there are a few things I know she would have wanted me to say to you. As soon as the war ceased, you started a remembrance effort and placed a memorial plaque to honor the children in July 1945.

    I remember that day, I was overwhelmed by joy. You’ve not only honored the children but also us the parents that survived.

    Along with the remembrance, a telegram was found in which Barbie ordered the arrest and deportation of the children and adults that resided in the refuge which gave rise to his trial in 1987. With the trial came the most important news of all, Barbie was charged with committing crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison. You, Sabine, are our children’s greatest treasure. You were their voices when theirs was stripped away.

    I am sure I will never find words to express how grateful I am for what you did for my daughter and the rest of the kids. Thanks to you, our kids will never be forgotten, their stories will be told from time to time for generations to come. It will be us, the sur- vivors, who will rise again and create awareness so that this atroc- ity never repeats itself.

    I am devastated to know you will not be able to be at the opening of the refuge as a museum next year. You must know this is all thanks to you. Every single one of you will be remembered and will live in the hearts of those who visit this place.

    I am here at your grave reading to you not only as Lucienne’s mother or as her, but I am also all of us who suffered from this genocide. I am forever grateful for your actions and know you will always have a place in my heart.

    Sincerely,

    Bella Friedler

    Normandy as Text:

    Izieu as Text:

    Dolores M. Browne’s Grave – Photo by Alex Gutierrez.

    “A True Hero” by Enya Pla Serrano of FIU at Normandy American Cemetery, France.

    To me, you were a stranger, but not anymore. Now, you are a true hero. Why a hero? You decided to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) just a few months after your 21st birthday; you were my age. Right at that moment, you knew you were sacrificing your youth, but it did not matter. You were so ready to miss on dates, parties, movies, beach days, etc., to prove you were ready to fight. At a young age, you became a sergeant in the 6888th battalion. Through sacrifice, you changed history, by joining you joined the first all-black and all-women battalion in our country’s history. It is because you decided to make a change and rise that you are one of only four women buried in this cemetery. It was with your sacrifice that us women of future generations have a place in society. 

    I know you were a victim of a jeep accident that ended the lives of two of your comrades and ended yours five days later, but you’re not dead. Your story lives in me. For a moment, I thought I knew nothing about you. Now, I see myself in you. 

    Your legacy was more than sorting mail and working endless shifts to deliver packages to the correct recipient. Your legacy was rising for me, and the women of future generations. The 6888th battalion never failed to deliver and complete their tasks, you gave your all, demonstrating us women can do anything we set our minds to. Even with 65,000 pieces of unsorted mail, you achieved what was identified as impossible by the male soldiers that preceded you. You proved we are more than capable; we are women. 

    You were one of the 855 women that served in the” six triple eight battalions”. You not only overcame your gender but also the color of your skin. Although I am not an African American, I am Hispanic and have also faced the need to prove myself after being seen as incapable. I know you were segregated and forced to eat and sleep in different locations from white male soldiers. Still, you knew you were destined to make a change, and you did. I know your working conditions were harsh and that even after your death funds were not available for your burial. You were not meant to be recognized, but I do recognize you, and so did your comrades who raised money for your funeral. They knew you were worth that and even more. 

    There are things I do not know and will never know. I do wish things would have been different, your recognition, your death, your circumstances, and your battle. I know you left home to prove you had a right, a right to be a leader and a war hero. A war hero? Woman? Impossible. A black woman? Out of the question. You had both” disadvantages,” these were enough to outshine you, but they were not able to, you were too strong. 

    As a young woman, I have felt the need to prove myself over and over. The fact that we are are considered incapable first until we prove otherwise, disgusts me. We have to work harder to earn our spot. It is women like you that inspire us, women, of the future, to rise and say” enough.”  

    As much as say, I do not know you, I do. You live in me. 

    I know you live in me when I scream my lungs out in a protest.

    I know you live in me when I say,” No more.”

    I know you live in me when I fight for my place in society. 

    I know you live in me when I say,” I am not going to give up.”

    I know you live in me when I say,” I will make a difference.”

    I know you live in me when I say,” I will rise stronger than ever.”

    Père Lachaise as Text

     

    By Enya Pla Serrano of the FIU at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.

    A French prodigy born on April 26, 1798, Eugene Delacroix grew up with a loss at his side, he lost his father, mother, and brother at an early age. A passion for art grew in him and flourished with the help of his uncle. As passion and skill grew within him, he enrolled in the well-known École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After studying and mastering artistic techniques, Delacroix immersed himself even more in art, developing a unique style. Inspired by literature and history, he portrayed conflicts and violence. Through his artistic journey, became a leading figure of French Romanticism in the 19th century. He became an inspiration not only for Romantic artists; he also influenced the progress of the Impressionist, Post-Impressionism, and Modernist movements.

    Creating such dignified works such as The Death of Sardanapalus, Scenes from the Massacres of Chios, and Liberty Leading The People; Delacroix started to be considered a revolutionary figure in the Romantic movement. His legacy goes beyond his leadership in the French romantic movement, his precision on expression and emotion, and his unique use of color were the foundations for many of the artistic works done from this time to nowadays. Prestigious impressionists and post-impressionists such as Monet, Pizzaro, Seurat, Renoir, and Cézanne admitted being influenced by Delacroix works.

    Delacroix most famous painting is Liberty Leading the People in which a bare-breathed woman is holding a rifle and a French flag, an allegory for the notion of Liberty and the French Republic. Based on the 1830 revolution that gave rise during Charles’s X Reign. Through art, Delacroix was able to incorporate his ideas and creativity. His work is filled with symbolism. Liberty Leading the People integrates the unity of classes, freedom, chaos, and the French Republic. Eugene became a symbol of France, and his legacy transcends from artist to artist. Unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis and died on August 13, 1863.

    Resistance has been one of the multiple representations of unity and strength from country to country across our history as humans. Even though I am not an artist, the revolutionary spirit is my tie to Eugene Delacroix. I have had the duty as a citizen and as a student to express resistance towards injustices made by the government of my country. Historical figures like Eugene are the ones that set an example for generations to come, and as we study these revolutionary figures, we make sure we don’t forget to fight for our countries and our rights. Although Eugene’s method was art, my approach is protesting and screaming my lungs out until I am heard. Recently, my country has been going through a difficult situation with its corrupt government people have been out on the streets for 12 days now demanding the governor’s resignation. I have not been able to be there with them, but I have been immersing myself in the lives of those whose revolutionary spirits live in you, and that is my tie to you Eugene the strength to speak for myself and my country.

    Art’s power as a form of expression has transcended for the generation to come; through art, individuals have the opportunity to express their ideas. The difference between Eugene and me is that I am not an artist. Delacroix had a magnificent talent and found himself to be the influence of many artists throughout art’s history. I do wish I had the talent to draw or paint and be able to use that to influence other people, but instead, I have another ability, the ability to do, comprehend and interpret science. Through science, I will be able to become a physician and help people. I wish one day I serve as an inspiration to others and create Ann impact on each of my patients, that would’ve been my legacy. Not through art but science.

    References:

    Biography – Musée Delacroix, www.musee-delacroix.fr/en/museum-studio/eugene-delacroix-37/biography-140/biography-16.

    Zelazko, Alicja. “Liberty Leading the People.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Liberty-Leading-the-People

     

     

     

    One thought on “Enya P. Pla – France as Text 2019”

    1. Tremendous cultural experience … I loved the content of the writing … deep and very well written. Very nice!!!

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