STEP Experience: London and Paris

During the Multicultural Histories and Legacies of London and Paris experience I was able to do a lot of things that I would not have been able to do otherwise. We did a lot in such a short amount of time, and I am glad that we had so much scheduled to do.

During our time in London, we saw many of the most popular parts of the city, including Parliament, Big Ben, and the Tower of London. We were also able to travel outside of the city and into the country to see the Dover Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath. In Paris, we also saw the most popular areas, like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Again, we traveled outside of Paris to some of the chateaux in France. These were really nice to see and learn about, especially Chambord which was barely used as a residence. It is crazy to me that such a beautiful castle would be built and then used for only a few days.

During my free day in London I went to Cambridge and visited the University of Cambridge. I was able to see the very beautiful architecture that makes up the university. I learned a lot about the history of the city and the university from a tour guide on a boat tour that I took while there.

My free day in Paris involved going back and spending some more time in some of the places we visited earlier in the week like the Notre Dame Cathedral. I also went across the street from the cathedral to the Shakespeare bookstore, which was a fun coincidence since we had just been to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre only a week prior. After spending some more time at the cathedral and the bookstore, I went to the Arc de Triomphe.

One thing that really stuck out to me during our trip was our time at the League of British Muslims. I learned a lot about what it is like to live as a Muslim in the United Kingdom. I am glad that I got to hear these Muslim community leaders speak about their experiences and I hope to have more discussions like that with other groups and I also hope to be able to share my experiences with others. The leader of the League of British Muslims said “it’s a problem with us, not a problem with the Faith,” and this is a message that I hope I can help to spread to the people I know. People immediately associated terrible acts with a religion, instead of with the terrible person who committed those acts. Hopefully in my lifetime, I will be able to convince people to learn more about other cultures before they pass judgement on them.

Another part of our experience that I thought was really important was the immigration tour in Paris. We saw a lot of things that were really eye opening to me, such as the camp of refugees under the bridge. Something that really bothers me about immigration not only in France, but in the rest of the world as well, is how we treat immigrants. First, we saw hundreds of immigrants living in tents under a bridge because they simply had nowhere else to go. We also saw the border within the train station. There was a guarded electric fence keeping people out of the country. I do not understand how we can treat immigrants so poorly when all they want is to come to our country to find a better life for themselves and their families. Instead of welcoming immigrants with food, water, and the support they need and deserve, we welcome them with electric fences and guns.

In conclusion, I hope that I can use what I learned from this experience to enhance my own personal goals, both in my education and in my life. I think I will become more involved in making sure people understand different cultures. I also think I want to learn more about immigration in our country and in different parts of the world.