La dernière étape à Paris

1-joyeuse-fete-de-thanksgiving-2016Joyeuse Fête de Thanksgiving, 2016

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Le groupe de Sewanee-APA à table pour Thanksgiving.

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Joyeux 21ème anniversaire à trois membres du groupe.

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Avec notre guide à Chartres, le Portail Royal (occidental) au fond.

Our final Sewanee activity of the semester (following a memorable excursion the day before to the grand Gothic cathedral of Chartres, an end-of-semester party the night before, and a final theater run the evening before that to see an excellent Marivaudian comedy) was with the gracious Charlotte Puckette, a Sewanee alumni hailing from Charleston, South Carolina. She has lived in Paris for over 20 years, teaching cooking classes and catering. Despite French becoming her primary language of communication, a few “y’all’s” effortlessly rolled off her tongue as we exchanged conversation (one can leave the south, but the south never leaves a southerner).

Following the lead of Puckette, we explored a Saturday morning market, meandering through the throngs of elderly French women toting ingredients that were awaiting their transformation into weekend repasts.  Amongst the stands overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, savory cheeses, and a wide array of meats, Puckette explained, translated, and later made the ingredients come alive in her own kitchen, sharing her passion for food and French culture.

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au marché avec Charlotte Puckette

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Chez Charlotte, préparation des oeufs

Unfortunately, I had to depart prior to the lunch that was prepared, with help from my peers, chez Charlotte, nonetheless as I hopped on the Metro after my morning with her, I was stuck by how happy she seemed in her work. As my return to Sewanee grows nearer and nearer, the reality of being a second semester junior is just weeks away. This fact brings the inevitable question of what I will pursue post-graduation. I am most concerned with finding happiness in my work, just as I have found in my studies. To see Puckette, having received a Sewanee education just like myself, living her dream, thriving, and delighting in her work gave me hope that, yes, it is absolutely possible to love one’s work, just as I have loved my education.

The most influential aspect about my time in Paris has not been the language aspect, important as that has been, but rather the lifestyle. Seeing a culture that differs from my own in many a way has allowed me to question my own identity as an American, while simultaneously reaffirming it.  I have a new-found appreciation for my home, and especially for the charm of the south. In my experience, I have felt the strong southern sense of goodwill, shared amongst strangers and families alike, to be lost in the vastness of Paris. The pace of life in the city can feel too fast at times, and I miss the simplicity of home. That being said, French appreciation for art, for history, and the general respect and pride for its culture has been incredible to experience firsthand. These facets of French culture are deeply rooted in hundreds and hundreds of years of varying religions, peoples, and visions converging into a single country, but but no means a single culture. To see, live, and participate in this beautiful, yet complicated intricacy has allowed me to further contextualize my own position as not merely a student nor an American, but rather as a member of humanity. Living in the States, it is far too easy to remove myself from international issues, and the multicultural nature of France has challenged my notions of what I considered my global perspective — the world is far more diverse than I ever imagined, and my experience here is only a springboard for my future explorations.