Friday, February 15, 2013

Paris, Diversity and the Sorbonne

I’ve been contemplating the idea of college lately, and when I thought about my options, one stuck out as the obvious choice - the Sorbonne in Paris.

A few years ago, my parents took me on a trip to the marvelous City of Lights. I’ll tell you what, that’s one incredible, lively and, yes, friendly city. Somehow the French got a rep for being haughty, aloof and rude. That must be a truth from a distant past because they treated us like royalty. And remember, we weren’t exactly the most typical tourists - a tiger, turtle and their hybrid kid.

They say that the Eifel Tower is the number one tourist attraction in Paris, but don’t believe it. As far as I could tell from walking miles around the big city and taking the metro, the number one attraction has to be, well, cleavage. Everybody seemed to have it. Not the men of course, but young, middle and aging women showed their stuff and were proud to do it. Mom even got in on the action and displayed some major tiger cleavage. Unfortunately, I’m very limited in that department so I just enjoyed the sightseeing.   
Speaking of the Eifel Tower, you can see a thousand pictures of that mammoth structure, but when you experience it in person, believe me, you will cry. I was rather blasé about visiting the iconic structure, but when I saw it for the first time - the lights sparkling over  that magnificent city - my tears flowed like the Seine.

Tortue, my dad, had one request for our visit to Paris: “We must walk through the campus of the Sorbonne”, he pleaded. Tortue had an American friend who studied French at the University who had recently passed away. She was a Francophile if there ever was one, a true lover of all things French, a teacher of the language and culture. Dad’s wish was to place a bouquet of flowers in the campus courtyard in her honor. And with the help of some gracious French students who showed us the way, that’s exactly what we did. Yet another episode of flowing tears among all of us.

That cinched it for me, along with the vastly diverse culture I experienced in Paris. Here’s the way I  wrote about myself in the e book, Lessons of the Wounded Warrior.

The city has dealt with the likes of Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, not to mention Mr. Bonaparte. And the Moulin Rouge is there as well. Really, Parisians have seen it all, if you know what I mean. I should be just a tiny bleep on their emotional radar, which is perfectly fine with me.

For more about embracing diversity and coping with prejudice, intolerance and bullying, visit and check out his free e book on these issues. And for a bonus, you get a more in depth look at moi.

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