A Trip to Paris

Our time in Paris is truly something that I will never forget. Between a private party in one of France’s most historic monuments with the French Alumni Network, a visit to the Moulin Rouge, and a number of adventures with my best friends, how could I forget? However, one of the things that I remember most clearly about our trip was a story that I heard about the building of the Eiffel Tower. Originally, the people of Paris resisted its building because they were worried that it would look out of place. It was supposed to come down when the World Fair ended, and yet, it stayed standing. I think there’s quite a lot of virtue to unpack there. A love of beauty, an appreciation for art, and an open-minded attitude that enable the administration of Paris and the World Fair to recognize the significance that the Tower could have for future generations if only it was left standing. On the subject of aesthetically pleasing things, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incomparable beauty of both the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre. What I found particularly interesting is that both buildings were not constructed to serve as museums… the first was a train station and the latter an administrative building. However, someone had both the vision and ability (what I would identify as significant intellectual and executive virtue) to transform those spaces into ones that celebrate beauty in so many different forms. I loved that each museum displayed art writ-large; they did not presume to judge what counted as art and what didn’t in cultures around the world, choosing, instead, to display the world and her people in full splendor. Especially for the Europeans, for whom art is such an integral part of their history and global recognition, this kind of open-mindedness and compassion for the experiences of others speaks volumes about the intention with which these exhibits were put together. Finally, I have to say that the shopkeepers of Paris exhibited compassion to a degree that was certainly not required of them. Despite the language barrier, I was constantly made to feel at home in the various shops and restaurants I visited. They were receptive when I tried to speak French, and gracious when I reached my linguistic limit. More so than the food or the items that I bought, I felt welcomed and accepted into their little corner of France. What a magnificent experience.

 

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