The Dangers about going to France (?)

Monday, July 18, 2016


On January 11th, I packed my bags and moved to Paris for a semester abroad. As my parents said there goodbyes to me they gave me there last words of advice: to stay safe, and to especially stay away from the area of the recent attacks. I shook my head and boarded the plane. Flash forward to 12 hours later. I'm in a taxi cab and my driver asks if I want to see where the attacks where. As someone who was studying international journalism it was an obvious choice for me to see where the horrific attacks took place and pay homage to those who had passed. Throughout my time in Paris I studied on the attacks and the motives of the attackers. I attended talks, visited the graves of those who passed, and snagged a copy of the next edition of Charlie Hebdo. The city that I had love had been attacked. Suddenly in the midst of couples making out on the Seine river banks where police guards with large rifles walking around the streets, ready to attack at a drop of a hat.

Many of my relatives and teachers asked if I ever felt uncomfortable in Paris. My answer to this day is still no. Others have questioned my sanity about going days after the Hebdo attack to live in Paris and even return to France after the numerous attacks have happened in the country I love and its neighbors. My answer is simple. I still intend to live in France. Yes, I was worried at times for my safety. Yes, I am worried now for my safety, but these attacks could happen virtually anywhere.

The unfortunate reality is, I could be killed tomorrow by ISIS in my hometown. I remember last year when an ISIS leader sent out of video giving ideas of attacks to other members. There were four places he listed, all of which where shopping malls. Three where ones in Europe, specifically in the Paris region which I frequented during my travels. The other was in my hometown. I was angry. WHY WOULD SOMEONE SUGGEST TO OTHERS TO KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE? I wanted to show that their bullying didn't scare me.

I ask those who question why I am returning to France, even after all these attacks, if they truly feel safe in their hometown. The answer for them is the same as mine. No. This is especially true for people of color who do not of the same privileges that I do as a white female. There are many more battles to fight against than terrorism. In 2016, we still are fighting for equality for people of different socio-economic, sexual orientation, and race. So no, I don't feel safe for myself or for others. This doesn't mean that I'm going to stop perusing my dreams and let this fear rise over me. Having the opportunity to be a teacher, especially during such as difficult period, will be a challenge. In the same manner, having the opportunity to speak to young people about these issues will be extremely rewarding as well. These horrific events need to be used as learning opportunities for young ones.
It is important to know, regardless of who you are and where you come from, that everyone deserves to be treated equally and with compassion. So call me crazy or whatever you would like for deciding to still commit to moving to France. I want to be able to change the world in a positive way, and this is what I know how to do best.


Until next time,


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