Today was just like any other day in life, except when we woke up we went to the United States Embassy and explored Paris instead of going to class in Iowa. Paris is the second city of residence in our tour of studying Islam in Europe, in which we have been meeting with different people on all sides of the spectrum.
At the Embassy we were able to meet with two people who work in the foreign services section and specialize with religious freedom and human rights. We also had the privilege to talk with Radia Bakkouch, the president of Coexister, an interfaith organization in France that works to open the conversation between people of all different faith backgrounds. These three women provided an open space for us to ask whatever questions we wanted to, whether they be pointed towards Islam, France, interfaith, or others. It was my favorite meeting thus far, and I wish we would have had more time. This was the last class scheduled event for our time in Paris, and afterwards our professors set us loose in Paris for the next day and a half.
A group of us decided to complete a few of the Paris must-do’s today as the Embassy was located right on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. We walked down the famous street and along the way window shopped in front of the stores we can only wish to afford. At the end was the towering Arc de Triomphe where, if you are a fan of the Tour de France, is a must see.
After taking the obligatory pictures, and avoiding watching the chaos that is the round-about which circles the Arc, we stopped at a crêpe stand where I had a delicious Nutella and strawberry crepe that rivaled the ones I frequent from Sunnyside. The subsequent journey to the Eiffel Tower was a scenic thirty-minute walk from the Arc that rounded out the day’s experience. After watching so many movies and television shows that feature the iconic Paris landscape, it was surreal to experience it for myself.
This trip has been full of new experiences and adapting to our surroundings. It seems that just as we are getting used to Paris we have to leave, but I am very excited to see what is next in London. Ta ta for now!