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France Trip 2019 par Annabelle Ryu
Incendies, is a play written by Lebanese-Canadian writer and actor Wajdi Mouawad. I always had heard about this play but I never really found the time to read it. It is now being done as during those winter holidays I finally opened the book: and what a book! I guess that if I had known how beautiful the play is, I would have read it another way: I would have read it with all the respect and honors you must show when you discover a masterpiece, a landmark of world’s history.
Incendies is a modern tale: it is the story of the death of a mother, letting behind her a life of mysteries and giving to her twin-children Simon and Jeanne a letter to each which must be delivered to the father and the brother they had never heard of. Then they dive into Middle East’s culture, sensibility and traditions. This play raises many important issues: it denounces a patriarchal society and conflict, war in general. The play does not take place in a specific place: it could either be in Syria, Lebanon or Iraq. And this is maybe what strengthens the peace message. War does not bring good anywhere.
Incendies is all a poem, a letter, a tragedy, a play, an anthem to live with the best part of us. Incendies encourages us readers to go beyond all the dark sides of humanity and live what life offers us best: love. Incendies is the most beautiful love story: “Whatever will happen I will always love you”. This is the proof that love is always the answer. Love survives to exile, shame, torture, sputum, rape, death, incest. Love is unsinkable.
Reading this play, we may also figure the current world conflicts better: war is presented in the play as more an intern conflict between different ethnic groups. The war does not make much sense: this is all about revenge. A man raping the sister of the one who raped his sister, who has been raped because she has killed his brother, etc…
Recently in Fontainebleau, a few teenagers presented the play: I walk towards the sun which presents many similarities with Incendies. This play was written by 3 teenagers, one of them is a Syrian exile. It is the story of two Syrian families fleeing the conflict and trying to build a new life in France. This play presented many inequalities as the two families were from different social backgrounds, but the conflict in a way made them more equal as they both had to leave what they loved the most. The authors and stage directors took sides of embodying death through a character, which also added another kind of equality: all equals against death.
These two representations of the Middle East conflicts and hardships of course enforce the gap between LEDCs and MEDCs: showing to us Europeans that we are totally cut off in a way from that hard reality.
A controversial reconstruction
A week after the disastrous fire of the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, the pledges of donation helping to rebuilt it became a bone of contention.
In fact, 24 hours after the fire, more than 800 million euros were promised to be donated for the cathedral. Lots of French billionaires, foreign countries and cities have decided to make donations, such as the Pinault family (owners of Gucci, Yves-Saint-Laurent, Alexander McQueen..) who gave 100 millions to the foundation. The government of Serbia has also decided to give a million of euros to the foundation. But, why all these donations are so controversial ?
In fact, France is facing a very difficult time, where people are divided because of taxes and lots of things. Even more, this controversery has been born because of the « Yellow Vests », who have been demonstrating against the government since November 2018, on Saturdays.
That is not the only problem, lots of organisations saw their budget decreased on the year 2019, when millions and millions of euros are given to the cathedral. Lots of homeless are trying to survive in France, 141.000 in France, in 2012.
But, the reconstruction may cost from 300 million to 600 million euros, so where will the remaining money go to ? Some people said that it might be used to rebuilt other monuments, but what about homelesses ? What about the people that are waiting for daily-improvements from the government ? What will happen to those people that are more surviving than living ? Only the future will tell us…
Inequalities in South Africa.
South Africa is a country with many issue like racism and social inequalities (which are usually linked ). The Apartheid, a segregating system where white people had an advantage over black people, was abolished in 1991.
After the end of the Apartheid, a new system was created in South Africa. This new system called «Black Economic Empowerment »creates many problems in the country. The goal of this system is to support black people over white people. When a white man and a black man apply for the same job, the black man will be authomatically chosen. This form of discrimination is called « positive discrimination ». It was created in 2003 and it aimed at helping black people to emancipate in the society. As they were segregated during the dark period of the Apartheid, black people are for the majority poor. The Black Economic Empowerment is a policy that advantages black people over other ethnicities so that these people can rise up in the society. So between two persons who apply for the same jobs (a black man and a white man) and who have exacly the same qualifications, the employer would automatically choose the black man instead of the white one. But this new policy instaured in 2003 has created many problems in South Africa : it pushes black people to hate white people and it pushes white people to hate black people because the distribution of jobs is unequal. Some people think it is fair while others think it is not. Some black people think it is perfect and that this is very fair. This policy brings new inequalities in the country : even though this is unkown, that people also live in townships. After the Apartheid, white people lost many things like their house and their jobs.
Another policy was adopted after the end of the Apartheid : since white people represent 10% of the South African population and they own 87 % of the soil, this policy aimed at redistributing 30 % of these lands to black farmers. The benefit of this policy is that it would give a chance to black people to rise up in the society as the majority of the community is poor. The problem is that white people cannot do anything against this reform as the state itself chooses the lands. In addition, the white farmers who lost their lands are not given subsidies at all. Furthermore, after the end of the Apartheid many crimes were perpetrated toward white farmers by black people. These acts were done for the majority to take revenge on these white farmers.
Dear White People is an American satirical series which had been directed by Justin Simien and broadcasted on Netflix since 2014. The story takes place in the prestigious university of Winchester (in America), where racism is a normal behavior. The series contains two volumes of ten chapters. Each chapter features a specific character's point of view, with the exception of the finale and starts off with a narrated introduction.
Chapter I of Volume I , devoted to Samantha
During all the series, we follow the stories of four black students (Samantha, Coco, Troy and Lionel) who are continually fighting to change most of white’s people predjudices. One day, Samantha decided to create a radio program untitled “Dear White people”. The show comments on racist occurrences both major and minor on campus. She is not afraid of saying what she thinks, and, despite being controversial, her show is known by everyone at the university. On the opposite side, Pastiche is a newsletter, heavily operated by a group of white students on campus. Their publications are seen by students of color as "insensitive" and "offensive" to certain degrees.
One of the more blatant example of racism took place at a university party. Reggie, a black student, got really angry because a white teenager called him “nigga”. An altercation between the two men took place, which became quickly violent. As nobody succeeded to calm down, someone decided to call the police. When they arrived, an officer violently aimed his gun to Reggie, asking him to show his ID card, in front everybody. He did not ask anything to the white student. After this event, lots of black students understood that they had to fight way more to improve their conditions. Reggie, too shocked by this injustice, withdrew from interacting with friends, expressing his feelings in poetry.
To conclude, Dear White People is based on brutal honesty and denounces the issues affecting today’s society, with great sense of humor. It multiplies points of view and feelings. The characters have various personalities, thereby the public is fond of them.
Clarisse DUPONT 1ES3
The French students became teachers : a new experience
In French : Maxime, Blanche et Elodie
Auriane, Louise, Camille et Clément
We went to DC
WW2 memorial - Delaware
Playing 'crazy' games : Octave for France
Philadelphia - in front of Liberty Bell
Goodbye Party - We pay a tribute to Mrs Lacombe.
Last breakfast together
With all our love from NYC
Thanks for all and see you in a month's time. XoXo
SEGREGATION IN BRAZIL
The streets of São Paulo, Brazil, see themselves housing both the poor in the streets, and the rich in the skies. The ongoing economic crisis in Brazil, the worst one in the country’s history, paved the way to a divide between rich and poor in this city. Combined with a housing crisis and a drug epidemic and you get a look through a magnifying glass of the current inequalities in the Brazilian society.
In Sao Paulo, two worlds are colliding: on one hand, the world above ground is host to the biggest banks of the country, the biggest businesses and malls, but below the freeway is an underworld full of people smoking cracks, improvised shacks and homeless families. The current job crisis led to over 3 million people losing their jobs in 2015. From the same year, there was an estimated 16 000 homeless people in Sao Paulo alone.
These worlds can also be witnessed on a larger scale: the outside districts of Sao Paulo have a far lower age expectancy, with 65 years, and, 20 kilometers from that, the inner city with 75 years of age expectancy. Jobs are quasi- inexistent in the outside districts, limiting the possibility for improvements.
Thus, many shantytowns have developed throughout the city; the biggest one is host to around 3000 families, and is called “Nova Palestina”, or “New Palestine”, a clear reference to the inequalities between Palestine and Israel.
Often, these people resort to scrap metal picking to get by another day, living in the worst conditions possible. They denounce the local authorities, accusing them of not doing enough, and denounce the “elites” as being corrupt in regards to this situation. The city has made efforts to improve their situations, but with limited success.
However, São Paulo is also host to an intense and lively network of organizations and social movements fighting against these inequalities, such as the “Homeless Workers’ Movement”.
The only thing we can be sure about is that the future of São Paulo is as fragile as the improvised shacks on the freeways.
North Korea is known for being the last State on Earth to openly practice slavery within their borders. However, what remains unknown to a lot is that these modern Korean slaves are not confined to the borders of North Korea.
According to the NKDB’s numbers, North Korea is dispatching up to 100,000 laborers over the world in order to earn foreign currency. The principal countries hosting these slaves are mostly Asian; 20 000 workers in Russia,
19 000 in China, 2 000 in Mongolia. This number keeps rising, and because of the sheer nature of the victims, it is difficult to have an exact number.
This oversea labor is estimated to earn anything between $120 to $230 million to the North Korean state, but it is once again difficult to have an exact amount. Most of these workers live in horrible conditions, with no running water, little to no food, a pay that does not exceed 80$ per month, and are cramped within a small apartment. Nevertheless, the numbers of North Korean being sent in foreign countries keep increasing, simply because even those horrible conditions are preferable to those within the North Korean borders.
The UN has cracked down on a number of these workers with sanctions, notably in China, the money brought back in North Korea being allegedly used toward nuclear development. In the Jilin province, near the China-North Korea borders, more than 2 000 illegal North Koreans workers are still employed, most of them working in seafood ports and in hard labor such as mines. But the ban issued by the UN on the local sale of products made by this labor had no effect; seafood from North Korea is still available in the region, despite the ban.
Another 2 000 is believed to be working in local pharmaceutical and clothing factories. Chinese companies are the guiltiest in this process: some of them directly work with the North Korea government in order to have access to cheaper workers. One of said local businessman, named Hao, said that the “UN sanctions are not sanctions against North Korea. It’s a sanction against Hunchun and China’s northeast region”.
According to the local Chinese authorities :“It is a very well organized [process].” This statement leads us to be worried about the future of this situation.
In the race for equal rights, one contestant is lagging behind: color blindness.
Nowadays, almost 3 million people around the world are considered color blind, which is about 4.5% of the world’s population. Even though this deficiency is widespread, not a lot is being done to help those with it. While people with typical color vision see up to 7 million distinct colors, those with color blindness see only 700 000.
Yet, color blindness is not equally spread throughout both sexes; indeed, males are the most affected by this deficiency, with about 1 in 12 of them having some sort of color blindness, while 1 in 200 females are affected.
Everyday life has many colored obstacles in their ways, whether it be maps they cannot read, street signs they cannot differentiate or clothes.
School, or the workplace are also guilty in the ways they treat colorblind people; schools may not employ special methods to accommodate to their needs, especially in subjects such as Geography or Arts. Employees in businesses may face problems with everyday things like pie charts, statistics, folders et cetera.
To help with the inequalities that colorblind people may suffer is theaim of ‘Color Blind Awareness’, an organization set in in the U.K.
While asking questions to a colorblind relative, I noted down some notable quotes: “I feel disconnected from society. Day to day life can be tough, whether it be the colors of the clothes I wear, the sports team I cannot differentiate and all. This may not seem like a lot, but put together it can really change the way you see things. There’s also a great deal of mockery, especially in the earlier years, so we often hide the fact that we’re colorblind to people, which is a shame.”
So, we can only hope for a more colorful future for the fight against colorblindness, and in the meantime, act and be more thoughtful in regards to this deficiency.
French Academy :
The French Academy is the pre-eminent French council for matters concerning the French language. The Academy was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the ‘Prime Minister’ of King Louis XIII. Dismantled in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored as a division of the Institut de France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the oldest of the five académies of the institute.
Does the French Academy have to increase female representation in French words? Why does it take so long in France?
A little revolution is going on in the French language’s world. “Préfète, députée, informaticienne, procureure” is said in everyday life. But in the 17th century, women were excluded from lots of professions. Thanks to the Francophone countries like Quebec, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg some jobs were feminized.
But why did it take so long in France? In fact, over the time, the institution of the French Academy, became fundamentally conservative, so all of the Academicians thought that the changes of words could surprise, or even shock French people before becoming familiar with the spelling. This is not exactly a good reason.
Moreover, members of the French Academy are still misogynist and hostile about the entrance of women in the French Academy. For them, the solution to have equality in our society is to systematize the masculine. What a solution !
Things really started to change in France in 1997 when Lionel Jospin was the Prime Minister in the government of President Jacques Chirac. During his mandate, he gave responsibilities of Ministers to women like Elisabeth Guigou at the Department of Justice or Martine Aubry at the minister of employment.
lisabeth GUIGOU. Martine AUBRY.
Nowadays the French Academy lay down its weapons after a lot of decades of resistance. Unfortunately, we can see that the French spelling’s rules are the consequences of social pressure.
PIEPERS Bertille 1ES2