by Elizabeth McQueen
I flew out of Omaha, Nebraska, fully expecting an adventure on the French Island of La Réunion. I landed in Paris the following day, September 11th, just hours before the attack on New York. It was an incredible time to be abroad. The show of support in Europe was amazing. People would stop me in the street when they heard me speak English to ask me if my family was all right and if I would be able to get home. I had planned to stay in France to visit friends and family for a week, so my flights were unaffected. However, my instant thought was that I should go home, that I needed to be with my family during this time. But my parents dissuaded me with some sound advice. They reminded me that I would never be able to control many of the things that will happen in my life, but that to hide from the bad would also mean avoiding much of the good. So I decided to go ahead with my plans. I arrived in La Réunion just over a week later, where I met up with people from all over the world, with whom I formed a lasting bond. The experience of discussing world events with people from all different backgrounds and beliefs expanded my understanding of a more global perspective. It made me realize more clearly that while the attack was directed at the United States, the whole world was affected. It also provided me with a glimpse of what many people from many countries throughout the world experience frequently. I went to La Réunion to study the French language as well as the French Creole language and culture that are unique to the island. But what I also discovered was a small taste of bits and pieces of the world. I found my adventure inside and outside of the classroom. I credit the enormity of what I learned there to both the courage of my parents to let me go that far away from home in such a time (and to brave the flight to visit me there) and the encouragement of two very dedicated ISEP coordinators, Inger Bull of Nebraska Wesleyan University and François Duban of l’Université de la Réunion.