By Makayla Keeney
Sometimes the best things in life come to you unexpectedly, and as I was a freshman at the time of my visit to France, I never expected to be given the opportunity to take a travel course. Going to Paris when I was only 18 years old was thrilling and scary, and it completely changes your way of thinking. The class studied comparative cultural policy between the United States and France, and I would say that this class was one of the main reasons I became so interested in arts advocacy. Seeing the US Cultural Policy compared to the French Cultural Policy made me quite embarrassed and even sad.
From day one in Paris, I could immediately get a sense of how different the cultural policy was compared to the States. There was art everywhere you looked, and all different mediums of it There were paintings on buses, performers on the streets, and musicians in the metro. The buildings themselves were pieces of art. Everything I looked at in the city was a representation of the country’s culture and history. Getting to see the difference between cultures was a very eye-opening experience. Traveling has always been something important to me, as it is the best way to grow as a person and become more culturally aware and inclusive.
In the city, I got to see more than I ever thought I would. I saw The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Bastille, Rue Cremeax, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Catacombs, Versaille, and of course, the Eiffel Tower. All these monuments were, well… monumental. I was speechless trying to comprehend how and why they were made and trying to understand how so much history and culture could be packed into these structures.
You hear stories about cities like Paris and the landmarks within it, but getting to experience the place and it’s culture first hand was an opportunity I will be forever grateful for. I will never forget the memories I made there, the monuments I saw, and the things I learned. The arts scene in Paris really opened my eyes to the potential that arts and culture have to spread knowledge and love. I always knew that art was something that connected people and told stories and created emotions like nothing else, but by seeing how the French respect art and the creators behind it was inspiring. So much of history is represented through art, as it is what creates a culture. I’m so honored to say that I was able to experience and visit a place that treats art the way it should be treated: like it can change the world, because it will, and it has.