Tell us where you have lived – and for how long – since you were born; whether you always lived in the same place, or perhaps in a variety of places.
I was born in the City of Love: Paris. My family, my culture, and my language all originate from France. When I was six, I moved to San Francisco. I learned another language, and was immersed in an entirely different culture. I was taught to be open, persevering, and kind. My household stayed the same: a little piece of France— the humor, the delicate cuisine, the aesthetic —but my environment changed me entirely. I now have two identities, two cultures, two modes of thinking, all in one young woman.
Alumna and writer Anna Quindlen says that she “majored in unafraid” at Barnard. Tell us about a time when you majored in unafraid.
When I was six years old, I flew from France all the way across the world to the United States, a country I had heard very little about. I did not speak or understand English, and I was supposed to live there for the next three years. Three years quickly turned into ten, and I fell in love with this land of opportunity. When I say that I fell in love, I literally mean that I fell; I was free-falling for a very long time before I finally found my footing. I felt extremely disoriented, and I lost the ability to know what people wanted from me. The social skills, the culture, the school environment was so foreign to me that I had to rebuild my entire identity. Every time we read out loud in class, I could hear all my classmates snickering and whispering to one another even before I opened my mouth. I was so afraid of being judged because of my accent, or of saying something wrong and being the laughing stock of the class. However I had to find courage deep inside me in order to survive, which taught me to ask for help. I left France a confident little girl, excited yet apprehensive, and I learned in America that majoring in unafraid was something that I needed to do every single day. Even today, when the United States is a place I can now call home, I still need to remind myself of the time when I found the strength to recreate my identity.
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
I fell in love with piano early on. The songs I created myself allowed me to share that passion. I started composing at age 10, and have written a dozen songs so far. My favorite, titled “Rebirth”, expresses my grief at my great-grandma’s passing. She was the glue that held my entire family together. As everyone around me mourned, I sat on the piano bench and let the music take over me. I felt the need to share her loving essence one final time. However, as heartfelt as it was, my composition could not honor the magnitude of her presence within our family. Composing helped me heal in a way that words can not.