Pia in France

Pia spending a month this summer in Cannes, France, on a Richter Research Fellowship to investigate the relationship between the popular, wealthy city and its local, national and international charities.

Le CCAS

Today, I found someone to talk to at the CCAS! I was really excited when I finally got to sit in front of a desk after climbing those steep streets leading to la rue Borniol.DSC02262.JPG.jpeg

The Centre Communal d’Action Social de Cannes is a local governmental institution that is in charge of overseeing the social development in the community of Cannes, including the work of public and private organizations.

I talked to a really nice guy, M. Allegoy, who told me that a large part of the municipal budget is allocated to Cannois social institutions. Why? Well, according to him, the French are all about national solidarity.

He also said what I heard earlier this morning: the French tend to donate a lot of money to charities during times of distress. For example, they became extra generous after the disaster in Haiti.

Cannes is a a super wealthy city and the French care about each other. Now the question is, how are charities doing?

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La Croisette

I’ve been walking around downtown Cannes and I’ve noticed something interesting: there are not a lot of beggars out in the street during the day, but it is impossible to miss them at night.

I walked up and down La Croisette on Tuesday night and there were beggars everywhere! Most of them were sitting on the ground; others were just walking around asking for money – even in English! (well, they said “please”). I saw the same thing on Friday night.

But, I walked again along La Croisette on Saturday at 2 p.m. and saw only one beggar! I could not believe it.

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Follow the leader?

Yesterday, Friday the 21st, we had an interesting discussion in class: who is the leader in terms of modernization, the U.S. or Europe? This is an interesting comparison – even if it is between a country and a continent.

In terms of technology, it may be argued that it is America. But what about the social area?

Sweden, for example, is said to be very modern, as it supports the absolute equal treatment of genders. On the other hand, France remains traditionalist because, for example, same-sex marriages are not legal.

The significant increase of women in the workforce during the past few years might support the fact that the U.S. is moving toward modernization, but traditionalism is not completely gone. For example, gay marriage is only accepted in about six of the 50 states. So, who sets the trends?

Does the U.S. mark the pathway and Europe follows? Does the U.S. follow Europe’s leading ideas? Or do they just each other to follow their own ways?

Will we see more modernization or more traditionalism in the U.S.? Where will our society go in the future?

This is hard to answer, but it could also be applied in terms of benevolence. Is there some sort of trend going on in the philanthropic area?

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La Mediatheque

It’s taking me a long time to post, so I have to clarify that I am not becoming French. The problem is that the internet connection here is really bad. Like one of my roommates said, I feel like I’ve gone back 20 years in time. No joke.

Anyways, after the “sacred” break, I ended up going to a sort of library: la mediatheque.

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It is a beautiful place in the middle of a huge garden. It somewhat reminded me of the Beast’s library in the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast”.

Although my trip here was just to get some basic information, it was nonetheless a productive one. I found some interesting facts about Cannes’ history and the general French population. For example, did you know that one in every four French people is involved in a benevolent activity?

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I interpret this to be a good start of the investigation.

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Taking a break…

I went earlier today to the Tourism Office, and they are taking a break… from what? Well, I guess from their arduous jobs. It’s amazing how almost the whole city shuts down from 12 to 3pm.

These French really know how to enjoy life.

I will come back in a couple of hours. Maybe they will have had enough rest to help me.

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Finally, in paradise

Ahhh! I can’t believe it! I’m so happy to be here already :)

After watching Leap Year, sleeping a little, and then watching the beginning of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I arrived yesterday at around 9 am (local time). The excitement kept me awake all morning – it was my natural caffeine. But then the unavoidable jet lag kicked in.

DSC02152.JPG.jpegThis morning I went to Mass to the Eglise Sainte Marguerite – most of the churches here are Catholic. Did you know that most of the French population is Catholic? The percentage is even larger than the one in Mexico! Here I had my first encounter with Cannois poverty – there were beggars outside the church.

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Afterward I went to the beach for the first time, and then to the center of Cannes, where the 63rd Cannes Film Festival is in full throttle. And, what a beautiful city this is!

It is impossible to describe with words what I saw today. I can only say that I am in paradise.

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Off to a rough start

I think the playing trumpets weren’t a good start after all… Instead of being in Cannes right now, I am stuck at the JFK airport, longing for the beach and the sun. Although yesterday was one of the greatest adventures I’ve ever had, it was also very frustrating. Here are the highlights:

1. At DFW: my bag was 58 lbs. Had to leave some stuff behind and re-accommodate in the middle of the Delta counter, making some fellow travelers hate me.

2. At ATL: problem with the engine caused a 3-hr delay. My cell phone died. An armed policeman escorting a guy out of the plane, little kids kicking and screaming the whole time, and inefficient flight attendants made my flight fairly unpleasant.

3. At JFK: missed flight to Nice by 15 min. After waiting to land due to Obama’s visit to NYC, running across the airport, waiting 3 hrs to change my flight and get my heavy bag, running back and forth between terminal 3 and Federal Circle, and spending the night in the big apple, I finally have a seat in the direct flight to Nice.

It was an eventful day. And I am grateful to my new friends who guided me and made my adventure so much easier to bear. To the 2 ladies going to Istanbul, the 2 gentlemen going to Nice to meet their families, the German couple going home after their vacation, the French guy going home after an exchange program, and to the many other people that helped me, thank you. There are a lot of good people out there.

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The beginning

5:10 am. The jazz trumpets start playing (my alarm).
This is the beginning of an adventure, and it already started on a good note.
Next time I write, I’ll be in France. See you later, Dallas!

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