While the world mourned the lost lives in Paris after terrorist targeted various spots through the city, the Marist community worried about our own 24 students who are currently studying abroad in Paris. As families and students felt the panic of worrying about their loved ones, the students in Paris tried to make sense of what had just happened.
“I was actually the only girl in the program who was out Friday night, so I saw some of the panic on the streets” said Christy Moore, a junior in the Mod’Spe program in Paris. Moore was out at the movies when the film suddenly cut short, and the theatre was evacuated. “It was really scary and I panicked and ran home to my apartment. I got back to my apartment and watched the news and saw all that was going on”
The apartment Moore is referring to is the housing given to the Marist students located less then an hour from all of the targets in the attacks. While this distance worked in their advantage, it also was in close enough proximity to hit close to home. “Some of us including myself had been in the same area as one of the shootings earlier that night. It was all near our apartment but we heard about it and contacted our families and friends before they could hear about it via American news” said Dominique Davenport, another student in the Mod’Spe program in Paris. She like most of the girls in the apartment was flooded with messages from concerned family members and friends, wondering what had happened. Luckily for many of the students they were able to inform their families first hand before they saw the terror for themselves blasted on the news and Internet.
What they and the rest of the world saw on the news was devastating, areas that had been visited to by students, places they recognized under fire and panic. The safety that one feels as a student, and the comforts of a city they had been living in was all the sudden in a state of pure panic. Casualties continued to rise, as the city and the rest of the world struggled to understand why something like this would happen.
As the students sat awake and watched the horror on the television unfold, Marist took quick action to give the students comfort and aid during the craziness. John Peters, the dean of Marist International Programs flew out the next morning along with, the director of Mod’Spe, and the student’s French and American advisors. “They meet with us everyday to make sure we are handling well. I must say we were scared at first but we have all carried on our normal lives because we know if we didn’t they would win” said Davenport. Davenport like the rest of the students has been working to get back to normal and remain on schedule with the help of the Marist and Mod’Spe staff.
“In these types of situations, strong and open communication is critical, as is being well-connected on-the-ground. Getting the facts, checking multiple sources, staying connected to government, the media, affiliates, and of course students and their families is vital” explained the Marist International Programs Team. The MIP team has worked day and night to ensure that the students in Paris are receiving the attention they need, and the necessary precautions are taken to ensure the students over all safety. Some of these precaution include canceling any trips the students had had planned, promoting both group and individual counseling sessions, as well as offering students the option of finishing the program from home if they wish to.
“It’s a cohorted program where students take nearly all the same (fashion-based) courses. These courses were designed as a joint collaboration between the Marist Fashion Program and Mod’Spe Paris. Completing this coursework at home was something we wanted to offer as a way of supporting the students” said the MIP team. While the safety and well-being remains the utmost importance to the Mod’Spe and MIP staff, students are continuing in the efforts to move past the tragedy. “It was just a lot of waiting that night and its now just kind of that same feeling and we are all just being extra cautious and going out in groups” said Aubrey Nardone, another student from the Mod’Spe program. Nardone like many of the other students expressed the relief and great work Marist has done to keep the students calm and focused on the over goal of their program. Nardone shares the opinion with many other girls, in that they want to finish this out until the end.
“I’m so proud of my program because although given the option to leave we have all decided to stay and support Paris,” said Davenport. “We understand that this was an act of terror and by paying our respects and looking out for others that may receive discrimination following these attacks we will be doing our parts as educated global citizens and human beings”. Davenport expressed her immense pride in the program and in Paris itself, for opening its doors to her and the other students. She like many others want to give back to the city that they feel gave so much to them in their months abroad. Acts of terrorism should not dictate the way students carry on in their program, nor should it dictate the way any global citizen should live, and while safety is of the highest priority, so is moving on with normal life. “Paris seems to be getting back to it’s normal state and I think everyone is just trying to cope with it by getting back to some sort of normal routine just with more caution” explained Nardone, and the rest of Paris seems to be following the same motto.
The MIP team explained “Study abroad is about the building of bridges between cultures for mutual understanding, discussion, and dialogue. What we saw last week in Paris, as well as Beirut and Nigeria, is a true tragedy. What’s most important is that as students of the world we continue, and even deepen, our commitment and resolve to promote this understanding, helping to build a better and more compassionate world at peace with itself.” Along with these students are the citizens in Paris who since last week have proved they believe in a similar mantra, as our students abroad, through opening businesses back up, holding memorials, and proving that acts of violence against innocents will not prevent the continuation of life but instead promote its growth and strength.
As the Marist students in Paris maintain there microcosm of grieving and moving forward alongside Paris, we as a Marist community can take comfort in the fact that we have such strong students representing our school. The dedication and bravery both the MIP team/ Mod ‘Spe teams and the students have displayed allows for the Marist students and staff to strengthen along with the rest of the world during this tragic time. As students regain their normal routine in Paris and finish out their program, we can all take pride in the lesson that that life goes on and the future still remains bright for citizens and students all over the world.