Saina Ysaac: Miami as Text 2022

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

Saina Ysaac is a sophomore majoring in Biological Sciences and is completing a minor in chemistry at Florida International University. She was born and raised in Palm Beach County, Florida by Haitian parents. She enjoys going to the beach with a good novel at hand and writing short stories in her journal. She also is involved with the Black Student Union, in organizing events and helping the Miami-Dade Community. She enjoys assisting others and spends most of her mornings at a nearby elementary school teaching third-graders how to read. Saina believes reading opens many opportunities and is taken for granted by most people.

Deering as Text

“The Color Green” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at the Deering Estate, January 28th, 2022

Flimsy green leaves, connected to the tall wispy trees, dancing through the wind like my coily hair. Oh! how I could not help but stare, at the beautiful green leaves.

Saina Ysaac

The breathtaking view of the ocean along with the site of Chicken Key Island settled the concept of peace in my mind. Such a sharp contrast between the city life that only was a few hundred yards away from us. Already I was taken back to a time when there was no air conditioning and rampant mosquitoes pesting at my skin. I was able to understand what conditions the Tequesta dealt with. From holding the tools they used to scale fish and other meniscal things, I was able to understand how these ancestors lived and I felt a similar connection, to my ancestors back in Haiti. The native Tainos were stripped from their land by the notorious Christopher Columbus, tampering with the already natural and righteous land the natives had, to create a world of exploitation and corruption.

The 3-story Stone house had an intriguing twist at the end. From learning that the Chicago Industrialist, had come down south for his winter vacations. He quickly acquired a hobby, to my surprise, collecting alcohol during the Prohibition Era. Located in the basement, concealed behind a hidden safe and door, Deering probably spent his time looking at the ocean capturing the essence of Miami’s nature with a bottle of Scotch at hand.

A majority of the workers who created this beautiful estate were of Afro-Bahamian descent, after learning about an incident that had left 5 workers dead, I quickly saw the contrast between the vast privilege Deering had lived in, with the conditions that the workers had endured. The effects of inequality still linger today. And this beautiful estate has now become a symbol of the theme of exploitation on Miami’s soil.

Vizcaya as Text

“Ce n’est pas une maison” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Vizcaya, February 18th, 2022


This is not a house, it is not even a mansion or chateau. This is a living breathing time capsule. With every room containing an exquisite amount of effort and passion. You can precisely see every detail in every wall, every painting, every single tile and etc. You soon realize you have been taken back to a time before smartphones and savvy tech. But in a world of hedonism and simple pleasures that are worth more than money can buy. By allowing the house to breathe simultaneously with the nature outside, I quickly saw the type of person, James Deering was. Vizcaya is his entire pride.

This chandelier represented more than carnal desires but as well as the beauty of the female body. The only body that can resemble God’s fashion as a creator. The lights are surrounded by beautiful gleaming flowers, almost to represent how flowers face the sun. With the entire chandelier being held by a flower to the ceiling, a sense of hedonism swept in the air. Even though it is usually frowned upon, I felt that living a life only to be filled with passion and pleasures is poetic, especially in such a gorgeous villa. I agree with Deering, what fun is having riches but with no one to enjoy them with, so why not create an enormous castle and invite all to party.

Although women had near to no rights at the time of the erection of this estate, the beauty of a woman was always treasured by those around her. This room reinforced the idea that a women’s body is a form of art and should be respected as such.

When I thought the tour was over, I was presented with the vast nature that Deering cultivated in a similar manner Louis VXI did, with his most prized possession, Versailles. I got a taste of Versailles, and I was stunned, I can not wait for my reaction to the actual glory.

Vizcaya intensified the theme of exploration between the workers and The Derrings and the privileged. This magnificent villa was built on the backs of the Afro-Bahmains, every day come to work on this villa only to return to a world of poverty and struggles. The contrast between the two worlds magnifies the idea that this is indeed a white man’s world.

Downtown Miami as Text

“Home” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Downtown Miami, March 11th, 2021

Miami is a pothole, full of different cultures clashing together to form a city-bound by the love of food, the beach, and MONEY !!

The city is ever-growing, and every corner seems to have some type of construction. Miami is the first stop for most immigrants coming from the Caribbean. Miami is home, many needed to start new lives in the land of the free, and came to the freedom tower for their independence and join the democracy.

Miami is the definition of living “the great life”, many aspire to be rich and famous coming here to seek their dreams and live grand.

Out of all my years of living, I have never seen a true slave house. Made from rock and struggle, it was somewhat nostalgic to be in the same presence as my ancestors that fought like hell, to preserve themselves in such harsh conditions. 

Also, the story about the white man marrying a Haitian woman, and adopting her previous children, I felt as if that expressed Miami in a symbolic sense. The clash of cultures, with the acceptance of breaking the norms.

Contrasting to living “the great life”, the collateral damage to an ever-growing populous city is homelessness, in the depths, in between the tall, God-reaching towers, there are the people who feel inferior to the rest of the world, left to be forgotten and ashamed upon. Homelessness affects roughly about 27,500 people in Florida alone. No matter what circumstances caused these people their misfortune, it is also important to note what contagion is associated with this pandemic; drug abuse and mental disorders run rampant. Without proper access to basic necessities and medical attention, the problem grows worse and increases the silent contagion within the streets of any major city.

It is heart-wrenching to walk in the beautiful city of Miami to see, such poverty and people who need help, yelling at innocent bystanders. They are treated like the scum of the Earth and no one needs to feel like that.

Yes, Miami is the home of the rich and the poor.

South Beach Miami as Text

“Let’s Go to the Beach, Beach” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at South Beach, April 1st, 2022

Southpointe beach along with the Miami strip is one of the most famous areas in Miami. Although beautiful, It is a tad bit overdone, a trip to Miami sounds nice when you are one of the Million tourists visiting there. Going to the beach for me is about finding serenity and peace while calmly listening to the ocean’s waves, luckily there are other beaches in the area, that are far away from tourists and large groups. Seeing how well these areas are maintained demonstrates the importance of appearance for Miamians.

Professor Bailey describes how the strip significantly changed since his adolescents, the strip was empty. And was mainly used for recreational use like skateboarding and getting the newspaper at a nearby cafe. This area completely changed with the famous Gianni Versace, moved in. His presence and sexuality brought an influx of people and began to stir the pot. Sadly, Versace was shot and killed on his doorstep, while going out to get a newspaper.

The fencing around his house has a Versailles Louis XVI touch to it, with his golden face, emulating the sun. It is absolutely fascinating to see how Louis continues to inspire people. He reinforces the idea, that you should always be your own biggest advocate.

Self-image is very important. Not only how you look at yourself, but also how others perceive you. Miami is a place for vanity. As the famous Al Pacino once said, “The world is yours”. Miami is the place of the American Dream, coming here integrates the idea of being glamorous and rich. Looking good means you feel good too. But just remember to bring your sunscreen.

Saina Ysaac: Declaration 2022

“The Last Queen Of France” By Saina Ysaac of FIU on April 24th, 2022

“At age 19, I was throne as queen. I was sent to marry the king of France to ease the conflict between France and home. I spend my days being annoyed with my dim-wit husband, Louis XVI. Instead of pestering him, I find pleasure in engaging with others in the court and pestering around with my right-wing woman, Princesse de Lamballe. Sometimes we order the maids to make us a faux farm, so Princesse and I can play dress up. There’s only so much one can do in a chateau like Versailles.”

Adapation of a diary entry, Marie Antoinette (1779)

Early Life

Maira Antonia Josepha Joanna was born on November 2nd, 1755 in Vienna, Austria. She was the 15th child of 16 children ( only 12 survived and reached adult age) of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and the Habsburg empress Maria Theresa.

She spent most of her childhood in Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace learning the basics of German and the principles of religion and moralistic values.

Although her grades in learning were less than satisfactory. Her European family knew that she could be used as a pawn later. She was born during a time of political unrest. Less than a year after her birth, the Seven Year War broke out, as the French, British, and the Spanish fought over land in the Americas or “New World” in 1756.

England had just declared war on France, this became a priority for Empress Maria Theresa to ensure an alliance with the French. It was common to use matrimonial affairs to create alliances with other countries, this is the reason why many wars were simply family disputes.

“Mein Kleiner löwenzahn , you don’t have to try too hard in school as long as you are pretty and keep your posture. One day you will be remembered by all for being a queen. You were chosen by God, to make this country proud.”

Empress Maria Thersa told her daughter as she brushed her ash blonde hair. (1766)

“I will do my best mother”

Replied by young Marie (1766)

Becoming Queen

Young Marie was pledged to marry the 11-year-old grandson of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste in 1765. In 1768, Louis XV sent out a tutor to assess young Marie’s academic abilities along with her temperament. The tutor reported back, “More intelligent than it has been generally supposed” and “she is rather lazy and extremely frivolous, she is hard to teach.”

At the time, Marie was only 14 years old and by May 1770, she was set out to France to get married to the 16-year-old prince.

On May 16, 1770, in Versailles, an extravagant wedding ceremony was held with over 5,000 guests, 57 carriages, 117 -footmen, and 376 horses escorting the newlyweds.

“Madame, my very dear mother, I have not recieved one of your dear letters without having the tears come to my eyes.”

An actual exerpt from one of Marie’s letters to home (1770)

15-year-old Marie did not adjust to matrimony very well. Being 652 miles away from Vienna, barely knowing the man she just was forced to marry, and forced to put her makeup on in front of courtiers, made her time in Versailles miserable. 

“I absolutely fathom my time spent here I have been forced to marry a man I just met, he’s rather unattractive and immature. He lacks the prestige of a future king. I can not believe God choose a clown to run this country.”

Adapation of a Diary entry, Marie Annotinette (1770)

The couple had issues consummating the marriage, it took serval years before completing the task in front of courtiers. Other than the young age, which could be the reason for the lack of sexual development. The pair, could not be as more incompatible, as their personalities clashed with each other. Louis-Auguste was more on the introverted side and Marie Antoinette was on the more extroverted side.

In 1774, Louis XV died and Louis-Auguste took the throne as Louis XVI, making Marie Antonette the queen of France at just the ripe age of 19 years old.

The personality of the married couple differed more as they grew older. Louis being more introverted and shy, began going to bed before midnight, leaving his wife to continue her pleasures in playing cards and spending the country’s money away on frivolous activities such as luxurious fashion and partying. She would wake up right before noon to begin overindulging again.

She found her life in the court rather difficult, as she found politics rather unamusing. Rumors began to form around the speculations about the couple’s love life. People began to believe that Louis XVI was impotent and Antoinette was having an affair with other men, while Louis XVI had a mistress named Madame du Barry, whom Antoinette had conflicts with.

Antoinette found herself as a victim of spiteful remarks from the public. Being a foreigner and the Queen of France made it all more of a reason to poke fun at her. Because of this, Antoinette needed a place away from the public.

Before the Revolution

In 1780, Antoinette spent her days in Petit Trianon, a private castle in Versailles that was designated for mistresses, without Louis XVI.

“As I stare in my vanity mirror, I see my gray-blue eyes softer than an ocean wave. My ash blonde hair and my untanned skin. A figure appears behind me, my lover, the Great Count Axel von Fersen from Sweden. His love is sweeter than an orange-gold fruit called “Kittseer Marille “ (apricot) in July from Kittsee. The only place from pestering gossip is in my woman cave, Petit Trianon. It was created based on my desires. Oh, how I finally love being able to shy away from pestering eyelookers . No rules, just la jouissance.”

Adapation of a Diary entry, Marie Annotinette (1780)

This is around the time rumors began to speculate that within Petit Trianon, Antoinette engaged in relations with Swedish diplomat Count Axel von Fresen.

Pamphlets circulating in France began accusing Antoinette of adultery, ignorance, and extravagance. Cartoons were drawn labeling her as “Madame Deficit “. During this time the French government was falling increasingly into debt, which was blamed mainly on the Queen’s overspending on luxurious items and a festive lifestyle.

In 1776, Antoinette and Louis XVI adopted Armand Gagne´

In 1778, Antoinette gave birth to a daughter, Marie Therese of France.

In 1781, Antoinette gave birth to a son, Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France.

In 1785, Antoinette gave birth to a son, Louis XVII.

In 1787, Antoinette and Louis XVI adopted Jean Amilcar, Antoinette had him manumitted.

In 1785, a thief posed as Antoinette and stole a 647- diamond necklace smuggled the necklace to the borders of London, to be resold in pieces. Despite not having any association with the thief, the public continued to slaughter her name. This is the scandal that made Antoniette notorious.

In 1786, Antoinette disregarded all libels formed against her and decided to begin building a retreat called, Hameau de la Reine, right near Petit Trianon in Versailles. This is where Antoinette and Princess de Lamballe would dress in peasant clothing and pretend to be a milkmaid or a shepherdess.

There are rumors going around that I am a whore.  I simply do not understand the folk in France, I do nothing but tend to myself in the chateau. Maybe if I wasn’t nobility, I would be miserable just like them. And blame all my issues on nobility. It is not my fault, God decided them to be poor.

Adapation of a Diary entry, Marie Annotinette (1780)

These stories fueled the anger in the already unhappy bourgeoisie and lower classes. It seemed that the Queen did not care about the people or even understand the hardships that were going on in the streets of France. This sharp contrast became the division that ignited the revolution.

Madame Deficit” and the End of Noble Privileges

France’s increasing debt can not simply be blamed on the lone hand of Marie Antoinette as the American Revolution was quite pricey on the hand of the French. As the first estate and nobility had no taxes to pay, they increased the tax on the people causing them to become resentful, as their money would be wasted away on the expenses of the rich.

Louis XVI and his delegators attempted to impose an equitable tax to ease the tension against the people, but the nobility declined. The press began labeling Marie Antoinette as “Madame Veto”, although she is only one member of the nobility, she was again to blame.

Anger continued to rage as during the National Assembly, which turned out to be a loss for the third estate, as the nobility and clergy declined their entitlement. After this, the French people began to believe that the nobility and the monarchy were plotting against them. Pamphleteers continued to bash Antoinette’s name, labeling her as l’Autrichienne (“Austrian whore”) accusing her of adultery, lesbianism, and incest.

In October 1789, a mob of about 10,000 angry Parisians protested in Versailles and took the King and Queen and imprisoned them in Tuileries Palace.

Although according to historians, it’s almost impossible for Marie Antoinette to have said ‘let them eat cake’, in response to hearing that the people had no bread to eat. This is because despite how the people pictured her, Antoinette was known to give to charity and actually had concern for her country’s common class.

In June 1791, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled Paris to the Austrian border, with the help of Count Axel von Fersen, where it was thought that Antoinette’s brother was waiting to invade France and restore the nobility in the country. This made the people label her as a traitor, and she was condemned for treason.

On Wednesday, October 16th, 1793, Maire Antoinette was sent to the guillotine. After being put on a two-day trial for treason and theft and charged with incest with her own son. She was found guilty by an all-male jury.

“The guillotine is set up, still droplets of blood dripping off of the shiny blade. Today is the day that the Queen is to be beheaded. Oh what a glorious day, God has finally given us a chance to change the country for the better. I am somewhat frightened for the future sake, but I can wait to see the head of that blonde whore in the basket. Everyone is chanting, “KILL THAT WHORE, KILL THAT WHORE !!!” People are spitting as far as they can, if she was someone else I might have felt somewhat sorry for her, she’s getting what she deserves for being such an ignorant piece of s***. Pardon my french, but finally, Marie Antoinette will be put to death alas.”

An adaptation of a cillivan POV on Oct.16th,1793

Personal Relevance

Marie Antoinette will always be remembered as a vile queen. Her “wrongdoings” will always overshadow the truth.

As a woman in the 18th century, speaking your mind in front of patriarchy is quite intimidating. Being frowned upon by accusations that your male counterpart is also doing is infuriating. Antoinette was sadly, the product of her environment. Being a forgneier and showing no desire to visit Paris, fueled the people’s dislike of her.

Even though she is the stepping stone for French fashion and beauty along with being named as the reason for the revolution. It is important to note that once an individual reputation is tarnished, it is impossible to clear the air.

After completing this project I see the contrast between being a 19-year-old woman in undergrad, and a 19-year-old queen of France. her responsibilities were forced upon her without forewarning and attempted to live her best life, even if it was a the expense of the lower class and bourgioue. But she is not the only person to blame, there is an entire nobility committee, she had no say as a woman and queen, who possess no political power.

Even if she wanted to fix the country, she would have to do it by playing by ear thru Louis XVI, who was a horrible king that lacked confidence in his ability to reign the country.

As a woman, culture expects you to be a perfect flower. So others can adore and admire you as if you are more than just a man. Being a woman means no faults and no mistakes, a perfect track record. Whereas the men are applauded for having the least satisfactory remarks.

Antoinette was labeled as a whore, even though her husband was having an ongoing affair. Antoinette was labeled as “Madame Veto”, even though she had no power to do so. Antoinette was labeled as a thief, even though she had no connections to the scandal. Antoinette was a victim of how others perceived her rather than who she actually was. A young queen thrashed upon a patricidal world, attempting to navigate through the difficult hurdles by the French people.

Citations Editors. “Marie Antoinette.”, A&E Networks Television, 10 Sept. 2019, Editors, Editors. “Marie-Antoinette.”, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, Editors, Editors. “Seven Years’ War.”, A&E Television Networks, 12 Nov. 2009,

Hope, Jessica. “The Life and Death of Marie Antoinette: Everything You Need to Know about the Last Queen of France.” Marie Antoinette, France’s Final Queen: Facts About Her Life, Death & Execution | History Extra, History Extra, 7 Apr. 2022, 

Jennifer Llewellyn, and Steve Thompson. “Marie Antoinette.” French Revolution, 23 June 2019,

Saina Ysaac: France as Text 2022

Izieu as Text

” It’s more than just black and white” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Izieu, July 10th, 2022

Mountain ranges as far as the eyes can see. Beholding the past horrors before me. 44 children and 7 adults perished after leaving the mountain canopy.

The Landscape of Izieu . Photo by Saina Ysaac / CC BY 4.0

It was a regular day in Izieu on April 6th,1944. The children knew they could not be with their parents due to the political climate at the time.

Running around with smiles on their faces, birds chirping around in the April spring sky, only to be disturbed by the commotion caused by a Nazi vehicle approaching on the nearby rocky dirt road.

This short distance allowed for reality to sink in for those that understood, all of the adults, but not all the children. 

Klaus Barbie took their lives, leaving behind remnants of their memory. I sympathize with the Jewish community as I am too a survivor of this ongoing war called Racism. 

Just like the Holocaust, the slave trade was a business, big companies like IG Farben, selling women (people) as materials to work and do experiments on. Was the same way blacks were used. The slaves have no documentation. There are no plaques to remember them. The Jews were reduced to numbers, slaves had no names. Slaves were tortured,beaten, dehumanized for centuries. 

All that is left is broken mindsets and a minority group screaming for change. It’s a war that will probably never end. It is the default in mankind.

Labeling areas as Colored Only, is a repeat of the holocaust, ensuring the separation of ethnic backgrounds.

The forced policy of wearing the Star of David, was used because the Jews were just regular common citizens, they lived among the people. Blacks had their skin to separate them.

Being a minority means you have to live in fear. Because anyday, can be a day for an erratic ideology to sweep the feeble minds of those that have power to do so.

The Holocaust is just one of many travesties done on mankind, and without proper awareness it is bound to happen again. The deaths of these children gives proof that we do not learn from our past and we should strive to prevent a recurring future.

These children died to be remembered, they died in order for us to have the “freedoms” we have today.

Seeing the incredible scenery in the heart of Izieu I felt the love and warmth that the children had, as they spent their last remaining days there. I believe their love shines on every day with the morning sun. But their spirits still linger in the courtyard with each setting sun, begging the moon to see their parents just one more time.

Lyon as Text

A Lion’s Mane” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Lyon, July 7th – 9th, 2022

The Rhone and the Saone make up the 2 rivers that flow through the heart of Lyon.

Named after an animal notorious for its pride and virtue. Lyon makes every other city in France bow down to its prestige. 

From being the 1st city introduced to Christianity to be the culinary capital of the world. It seems impossible to not give credit when it is due to this amazing city.

Upon entering the city, I found myself just at home under the mane of Lyon. Encapsulated by the culture of savory foods, delicacies and the sweet smells of warm July. 

No matter how many photos I take I can never fully capture the true beauty of the landscape that lies ahead of me.

Lyon’s landscape is shrouded with soft mountain ranges and trees. The usage of green spaces and a decree to be exhaust-free by 2023, is a city I love to see!

As a Leo woman, finding an image, plaque, or statue of a lion at every corner of the city, became a scavenger hunt that expedited my love for the city.

The history of Augustus being the 1st holy emperor of the Roman Empire, naming the month of August after himself, and seeing the Lugdunum, made a transcendental connection to the spirit of my being.

Lyon is the brave warrior as it symbolizes its past and enriches the future. Forever will be the great city where the Roman Emperor, Claudius, delivered his famous speech advocating the rights of the Gauls. 

My skin never shined as hard, I never smiled as hard, and I never felt ambitious until being immersed in the mane of the city.

Thank you, Lyon, for rekindling my fire.

Versailles as Text

“My Vanity, My Beauty” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Versailles, July 3rd, 2022

I am the center of universe, the sun is fact is me.

The people of the country glee as they bow down to me.

Building gates of gold so all can see, I am their righteous king.

Poise and elegance is all I can be. Who cares about the needy, as long as I can be the righteous king that God has appointed me to be.

La France is country all should see for its golden standard is because of me. 

Don’t you fret, don’t you cry Louis XIV is right by yourself side. Of course always in my chateau of Versailles.

The beauty of Versailles instantly caught my eye.

How could the king of France let his people die ?

For prestige of course, for his self pride.

People may judge what they see.

But I see a king that became the person he needed to be.

The person that created Versailles, was so wise. That people themselves don’t understand why, they flock to Versailles.

You may look and you may roar, but the king of the jungle has you sore. Leaping over the necks of the poor. Louis the 14th has won the war. Leaving a legacy far from the sea, the beauty of Versailles enriches me. 

How can I deny, the king has me blind. For his actions alone cause the French Revolution on its own. It’s sad to see all that the people just wanted to be, was happy and free.

But who cares about a dying land, when you have Versailles at your hand ? 

As I walk through the hall of mirrors I see history unfold right before me. Here at the end of the hall, lied the throne of the greatest of them all. He himself could not see the political unrest he caused after thee.

Here I think and understand why, the Americans wanted their freedom. Freedom from a monarchy that focuses solely on pride, they could not see the issues in front of thee. Thank you Louis the 16th for aiding Benjamin Franklin in the pursuit of a revolution, ultimately leading to your death. If not I would not be able to see the great Versailles in front of me.

Paris as Text

” Awarness” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Musee Carnavalet, July 5th, 2022

If It doesn’t affect me I don’t know and I don’t care. if it does affect me, I know and I care. If it doesn’t affect me but I know, I still don’t care because my actions will not change the cause. This is the mindset of human nature and the fault of all human intrusions on humane rights. 

Paris is beautiful, adored for its elegance and class. Famously known as the “city of love”. Its first permanent civilization dating back to the 4th century BC, the Parisii probably had no intention of creating the most famous city in the world. Louis XIV set the golden standard of beauty for the country’s pride. It seems that Napoleon tainted the image of France and till this day  they try so hard to cover it up.

It’s difficult taking in the beauty of the city knowing their history affected my people. And for the majority of the French, Haiti’s poverty state is something they do not care about or have any part in fixing. Visiting the Museum Carnavalet reinforced the image that most people know, but do not care.

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15th, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica. He became the first emperor of France. His reign was from 1799 – 1815, only 16 years changed the trajectory of the world. His actions inspired many wars, notably both World Wars and especially the 2nd World War, Hitler mentioned that all his efforts were to be just like Napoleon. 

Haiti became a French colony during the 17th century when Napoleon I decided to use the country’s natural resources. Importing slaves from South Eastern Africa to exploit their labor. After the slave revolt in 1804, the country had issues with civil war and political unrest after the killing of Toussiant Overture. Even though the revolt was successful, France still had a presence on the eastern part of the island. And until 1825, France recognized Haiti as an independent state. This is when the greatest heist in history began.

France’s luxurious prosperity has solely been based on the exploitation and poverty of the Haitian people. 

On April 17th, 1825, King Charles X, decreed that he would only see Haiti as an independent country after paying a price of 150 million francs, which is around 10 times the amount paid by the US government for the Louisiana purchase in 1803. This is the price Haitians had to pay for their freedom. This is the price that has for over 200 years, held the Haitian people in a state of poverty, political unrest, and a loss of hope.

The price of 150 million francs, is a price many European countries could not afford. So why was this even in consideration? This is because the French believed that this payment equates to the amount of profit they had lost due to the revolt. A profit that is not righteously theirs, a profit is stolen from the people themselves, that died every day from the unbearable working conditions.

All of this from a country whose pendulum of politics has done nothing but cause distress and petty wars for the sake of “rights”, but only rights for their own. Not for the ones that built this entire world on their backs.

Before visiting the Musee Histoire de Paris Carnavelt, I was taught that Napoleon Bonaparte was a great leader, that his faults in some of his decision making,  ultimately caused both World Wars. I also knew about Haiti’s slave revolt. What I did not know was that slavery was abolished in France, the second wave of abolition in 1794. But was reintroduced under the regime of Napoleon in 1802 and continued until 1815. 

This simple decision to reintroduce slavery is what made me angry. Not at the French government but the mindset of those in power. It ties back to the oldest feud ever: the poor vs the rich. The poor struggle every day just because of the decision of the rich. The rich can do so because they have money and power.

I do and I care. I want a sincere apology from the French government to the Haitian people so they can say they are the ones accountable for misfortunes that fell on a country that just wanted freedom. The same freedom French people fight every day for. 

It is absolutely disgusting to see that the museum of French and Paris history has nothing but pride and haughtiness for their bourgeois culture. But no accountability for depriving many colonies and countries of exploiting the natural resources that they had, to be left high and dry for generations of poverty, overshadowing the beauty of these nations.

I am a product of a tyrant’s selfish desire of wanting more power and I pay the price of wanting my freedom every day in these capitalistic superpowers pendulum of political unrest.

Why can’t France have the same awareness that Germany has towards the rest of the world involving their actions during the Second World War? Admitting to their faults and helping a country in anarchy.

I may be biased, but from the moment you are born and the entire history of your people ties back to France. From last names to similar ideologies (fighting for what is just). It is heartbreaking to see that, my country was just a stepping stone so France could be seen as great and powerful.

Black people as a race have been stepped, spit, and cursed on for centuries so superpower countries like America, England, and France could uphold their titles. While looking down at exploited countries as third-world countries, which are infested with no political structure and a poverty-stricken mindset. The only ones that can help, are simply looking away and laughing. 

Awareness should teach the effects of colonialism and the footprint it has left on this world.


Bailey, John William. “Paris.” Bailly Lectures, 6 July 2022, 

Daut, Marlene. “When France Extorted Haiti – the Greatest Heist in History.” The Conversation: In-Depth Analysis, Research, News and Ideas from Leading Academics and Researchers., The Conversation, 9 July 2021, 

“The Haitian Revolution.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 

Lentz, Thierry. “Napoleon – Hitler, the Improbable Comparison.”, La Fondation Napoléon, 3 Feb. 2012, 

“Napoleon I.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

Normandy as Text

” A Heaven’s Bloom” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Normandy American Cemetery, July 26th, 2022

Plot A, Row 12, Grave 9

Normandy American Cemetery, Photo by John W. Bailey/C.C by 4.0

“Photographer Gives Up His Life for Camera”

Before photography was introduced to the War scene, people had vague views of what warfare was actually like. This allowed for propaganda to deceive many people that volunteered to fight, only to return traumatized.

Propaganda is the manipulation of information to persuade a biased perspective. This tactic has been used repeatedly throughout history and continues to this day in the political world. During World War I, propaganda was used to enlist troops in the army. Often glorifying how righteous war was. Falsely advertising the reality of combat. By World War II the press was heavily censored by military organizations ensuring that the press did not release anything that would aid or comfort the opposition. Propaganda was heavily used by the Nazis to spread destructive nationalism (racism) and patriotism. In America, propaganda was targeted toward women and children to encourage the enlisting of more recruits. The actions of Bede G. Irvin were to spread the truth, not Propaganda. Using images to describe critical information about the war, allowed citizens back home to understand the reality of what occurred on the front lines, rather than what the government and politics wanted them to know.

It’s important to note that Media and the Press are very important aspects of communication as they allow messages deeper than words to reach the hearts of people. It’s one thing to read about war and it’s another to watch/see war happen.

Bede G. Irvin was an associated press worker who died in action saving his cameras, found lying in a ditch with one camera around his neck, and another camera in his outstretched hand. Till the very end, he remained a selfless person, ensuring the people back home received the legitimacy they needed.

Irvin was quoted as saying that he did not see “enough action”, which allowed him to be relocated closer to the battlefield. And on July 25th, 1944, just 1 month and 19 days later after the D-Day landings, Irvin was hit by a B-26 bomb fragment and died instantly on the spot.

Bede G. Irvin was born as George Bede Irvin on July 27th,1910. Commonly known by his middle name he was loved by others with his zesty personality. He attended the University of Iowa, and worked at his local tribune for 8 years until joining the Associated Press in August of 1936.

In 1938 after volunteering Irvin was sent to London to begin reporting on the war.

He was the eighteenth American newspaper reporter to have been killed in the war assignment since 1939.

He died 2 days before his 34th birthday leaving behind his wife, Kathryn N.Hawkin. According to records she remained unmarried and died in the year 2000.

My Last Message to Bede G. Irvin

After all that has been said and done, the war had just begun. Gone too soon a heaven’s bloom. Your spirit still shines on. Just like a star in the sky, you are far away from home. Home is in our hearts, a memory to keep. Your bravery will not go unknown.

I am selfish.

Even today, if my rights were taken away. 

I don’t know if I would have the courage to volunteer.

Volunteer , to become a warrior against an enemy I never seen before. 

To be relocated from my home to the weary unknown.

A place where the enemy resides, where danger lies.

To sacrifice my life, for what is right, to describe back home that I did not die alone.

You died for a country, you died for the people to see the truth that lied overseas before us. You died for people like me , to say that we are free. You died away from the motherland, to give us Americans a loving hand. Thank you.

Your decision deserves more recognition.

For your might was behind the camera’s eye that demonstrated all the truths to the naked eye. Without you we would not understand why so many sacrificed their lives. Because of your bravery the world understands that the strife had to end. Every photo you took, every column you made shedded light on what remained. The actions, the visions, the indescribable pain, that those that served had endured.

I know it was for a cause, a cause that seems so unappreciated now, now that I am at your tomb. But I thank you for all that you do, you are still alive in my heart. Because without you, nothing is true. The photos you took did not leave with you. They stayed, they are ingrained in my brain. The truth’s description is far from fiction, because you knew , the world needed you. 

Without you, how could you tell the world about the truth?

Without you, how could we’ve known the realities behind those trench walls ?

Without you, the world missed you more than a summer’s June.

There’s a saying by Terry Pratchett, “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world dies away”.

“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world dies away”.

Terry Pratchett

The ripples Irvin made were the photos he took, till this day shining the light of our glorious days. I am grateful for the sacrifices he made, being the 1st American Associated Press comrade to go overseas during D-Day, his efforts alone , allow for us to see the truth. Without the truth we would have false news, which can remake the mistakes of yesterday. But because of him, we understand.

My Personal Connection

I am a 19-year-old Haitian-American woman from South Florida, he was a 33-year-old white male from Des Moines, Iowa. Our ideologies and mindsets could not be farther from the distance that lies between us. But at the essence of our being, we were both humans. Both existed in this transcendental plane. His efforts in the war allowed me to be free in this country. I can choose what I want to believe in and exist among my diverse peers because of him. Even Though our lives will never cross, I can exist because his timeline allowed me to. He lives within all of us, the choices we make define our future. His decision allowed my future to be a reality. Thank you.


“.” Americans at War. . 21 Jun. 2022 .”,, 24 July 2022, 

“George Bede Irvin (1910-1944) – Find a Grave…” Find a Grave, 

Irvin, Bede: 1910-1944,

Lancaster, Marc. “Killed by Friendly Fire: Lesley J. McNair and Bede Irvin.” World War II on Deadline, 20 July 2021, 

“Media in Wartime | History Detectives.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 

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Suedois50. “Irvin G Bede – War Correspondent.” Mémoire & Database, 

“World War II Propaganda.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 


Pere Lachaise as Text

” The Little Sparrow that had so much Sorrow” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Normandy American Cemetery, July 26th, 2022

Born amid the Great War, the little sparrow, brought by a stork left in grandma’s footsteps, began life without a mother’s love. Her mother was a singer, father was a contortionist. Raised in a brothel, the little sparrow could not foreshadow how awful life could be. Meningitis, the inflammation of the meninges (protective layers surrounding the spinal cord and brain) cut the little sparrow’s sense of sight, despite just being three. At age seven, the little sparrow began to see again, see the truth of the world. Her life had just begun, she already knew what cards were dealt in her hand. Joined by her father in the circus accompanying him as he performed, the little sparrow learned how to keep the attention of a crowd. Her father had her practice singing, with every chance he obtained. The little sparrow began to sing about the sorrows of the world through her beautiful voice. Singing in the streets of Paris, most notably in Montmartre. Within the streets, the little sparrow met fellows that committed petty crimes. Despite her surroundings, the little sparrow did not let this discourage her. In 1932, the little sparrow found a mother’s love by becoming a mother herself. The little sparrow gave birth to a baby chick named, Marcelle DuPont, only to die short of sickness, the same sickness that caused the little sparrow to go blind. The baby chick was only 2 years young. Such an unnatural state to be just 17 and already in despair, only to follow by a tragic fate that you already suffered from. I am 19 years old, I cannot even fathom the pain the little sparrow endured, losing a child of her own.

 In 1935, after leaving her father’s side, the little sparrow enlightened something in a man’s eye. This man owned a famous Cabaret near the Champs-Elysees. This man was Louis Leplée, the same man that gave her the nickname, “La Môme Piaf” ( the little sparrow). Leplée began creating a campaign to gain awareness for the little singer, which quickly became a success as she went on to record two albums that year. Sadly, that following Spring Leplée was murdered, leaving the little sparrow to find someone else to guide her to stardom. Raymond Asso, became her new manager, permanently giving her the name “Edith Piaf”. She began to write songs that romanticized her life in the streets, describing her internal strength in overcoming every obstacle life had thrown at her. By the 2nd World War, she performed for German soldiers as they occupied France, it has been later revealed that she was part of the French Resistance and aided Jewish comrades from Nazi mistreatment. After the war, the little sparrow’s fame became worldwide. Most notably in French-speaking countries; Canada, Belgium, and even German-speaking Swiss. 

In 1947, she met her greatest love, Marcel Cerdan, named the greatest French boxer. Films have been created for their untimely love. In 1949, he died in a plane crash en route to New, on his way to meet the little sparrow. This death affected the little sparrow very much and wrote a song called “Hymn to love” ~ the lyrics are as follows. Out of all the grief, my little sparrow had in her lifetime, this death took a toll and set off a spiral into depression. In 1951, the little sparrow was involved in a deep car accident, breaking two ribs, one arm, and severe bruises. She was given morphine for the pain, the little sparrow quickly became addicted to numbing the pain. Numbing the loss of her absent mother, neglected grandmother, irresponsible father, dead child, lost manager, and dead lover. Self-medicating seemed like a prince in disguise, in reality, he had a ghoul face and a scythe in his hand. After this incident the little sparrow became a product of more misfortune finding herself in two more near-fatal car accidents, causing her addiction to spiral. In the mid-1950s the little sparrow found herself in rehabilitation facilities only to relapse as soon as she left them. Her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis made her physically constantly in pain and emotionally numb to more pain. In 1959, the little sparrow collapsed on stage, at the time it was unknown, but it has been now proven that it was the start of the onset of liver disease. By 1963, in her final days, she visibly has an extended abdomen, the cancer tumor rapidly growing. On October 10th, 1963, the little sparrow left the world gracefully, leaving behind a gay husband 20 years her Junior and a lifetime of beautifully sung songs of the sorrows of her life.

It’s hard to live a life full of pain. Depression is all I see, marred in a life full of sorrow is happiness’s enemy. The little sparrow that sang so effortlessly, died in the hands of a hell-bent tragedy.

I know what it is like to self-medicate, attempting to put all your problems away. You must face them like the monsters they are, don’t keep them in the dark. Show them loud and proud that you are not the weak person they see now. These monsters break you down, if you are not observant they will shut your light out, so you must fight, fight every day to keep the monster out. The little sparrow with so much sorrow was no match with the monsters within, but she fought the battle with all the might she had. Being the greatest France ever had, and because of that everyone’s life is pink.

Personal Connection

Learning about Edith Piaf’s life reinforced the fact that everyone is human, we all feel emotions and are allowed to feel. Piaf’s emotions allowed her to feel pain, and she expressed it the best way she could, through music. Although I am not a singer I find a similar escape in listening to my favorite music. We are all branches on the same tree.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Photo by Nicole Patrick/C.C by 4.0


“Edith Piaf – Biographie, Discographie Et Fiche Artiste.” RFI Musique, RFI Musique, 18 Aug. 2016, 

“Edith Piaf.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 

NHS Choices, NHS, 

Par Lou Garçon  Le 18 décembre 2020 à 11h25, modifié le 18 décembre 2020 à 13h38. “La Vie En Rose D’Edith Piaf à La Maison Close De Bernay.”, 24 Dec. 2020, 

Romer, Megan. “The Tragic Death of French Cabaret Sweetheart Edith Piaf.” LiveAbout, LiveAbout, 7 June 2018, 

“Édith Piaf.”, A&E Networks Television, 1 Nov. 2021, 

Saina Ysaac: Paris 2022

Over under Paris

Line 7 by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Paris, France on July 1st- July 31st, 2022

Ligne 7: La Courneuve ↔ 8 Mai 1945 to Mairie d’Ivry or Villejuif — Louis Aragon


For one month I  reduced my carbon footprint on the world by using my Navi-Go card to travel around the second busiest city in Europe. The Paris Metro station was inaugurated in 1900 and is over 214 kilometers long, spanning over 303 stations. Nearly every day 7 million people ride the metro. Line 7 is about 22.4 kilometers long, with 38 stations. This metro line starts with La Courneuve – 8 Mai 1945 in the north to Mairie d’ivry or Villejuif – Louis Aragon in the south. These stations brought me to both extremes of the social pool, from the supplement areas to the low-income slums.

The Metro 7 . Photo by Saina Ysaac / CC BY 4.0

Porte de Choisy

Historical insight/Personal Observation

This stop is named after a nineteenth-century gate in the Thierrs wall of Paris that led to the Choisy-le-Roi. Opened on March 7th,1930 when it was still connected to another stop on line 7, and formerly on line 10, Place d’italie. Located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, this is one of the most densely populated areas of Chinese descent. Just like America, France has an increasingly diverse population due to immigration. Immigration has allowed for a mixing pot to occur in these areas, rebranding the culture from their homes and implementing them in Parisian lifestyles. I was shocked to see a pause in bourgeois Parisian culture as seen in the 5th and 7th arrondissements. This instantly became one of my favorite stops, as it reminded me of Chinatown, later found out that it is indeed a Chinatown in Paris. The entire area is saturated with oriental culture, reintroducing an emergence of Asian immigration. Here you may find any food that your heart desires from Chinese to Thai cuisines, with all the amazing spices right here under your tongue. The Asian culture is reinforced with monuments and statues of oriental nature. The Park of Choisy (Parc de Choisy) contains a historical tree called the Liberty Tree (l’arbe de la liberté) which signifies the 1789 revolution, the plaque was replaced in 1945 after the occupation of France and liberation of Paris, on the other side of the tree locates a memorial of the Cambodian genocide led by Khamer Rouge from 1975 – 1979. I found this very impactful as the city tries its best to keep history alive, by reflecting on past mistakes and actions that continue to occur in modern times. Also within this Park is the George-Eastman Foundation which provides dental care to the children in the district. Porte de Choisy also has a connection to T3a which brings you right to Cite Universite, making it an excellent choice for food and travel for upcoming study abroad students. Porte de Choisy taught me about the ethnic diversity located in the 13th arrondissement, with this I found inexpensive eateries and a culture-rich district with supermarkets and paintings promoting Asian culture.

Maison Blanche

Historical insight/Personal Observation

This stop is named after an inn called “Maison Blanche” (White House), which was located on an old main road that led to Fontainebleau. A small village bore this name, formed a chapel dedicated to Saint-Marcel, which was rebuilt in 1853, in memory of a fallen general during the French Revolution of 1853. Located in the 13th arrondissement, this station was opened on March 7th,1930, as an extension of line 10. Transformed into an air raid refugee during World War II. I became a prototype anti-aircraft shelter that had been designed to block against gases. This station was chosen to become a refugee due to its location, it was saturated with working-class inhabitants in a densely populated area. Its protection lay within the doors of the metro station that was filled with airtight doors. During the time of erection, French newspaper articles claimed that it was the safest “shelter station” in the world. Some remaining doors are still in Maison Blanche, and since then, has adopted an Art Deco style with monogram “M”’s, blue ceramic metal plates, and geometric motifs since the 1940s.

This station was also a location of a terrorist attack that occurred on October 6th,1995, an Algerian Islamist Group (GIA) caused injuries to 18 people. This act of violence could have been linked to a protest regarding the arrest of Khaled Kelkal, a perpetrator of an RER B attack in Saint-Michel. Known for its historic past, sadly was tainted by a volient future. Feeling the effects of Porte de Choisy, Maison Blanche is also concerned to be the Asian Quater, right between Tolbiac and Porte d’italie, its oriental eateries are off the charts. 

Place Monge

Historical insight/Personal Observation

This stop is named after the great French mathematician, Gaspard Monge, who invented descriptive geometry. A geometry that is used in architecture and engineering. Opened on February 15th, 1930, formerly operated in line 10. Located in the 5th arrondissement, this stop internalizes the art and architecture of the Muslim culture. Muslims can be defined as followers of the Islamic faith and/or of Islamic ancestry. Similar to Porte de Choisy, Place Monge has been a place of immigration of followers of the Islamic faith, implementing their culture in the middle of the Parisian city, with a Mosque and a tiny cafe. The Great Mosque of Paris is one of the largest places in France that serves as a place of worship. The Great Mosque was built from 1922 -1926, right after World War I. Its architecture style which is  Spanish-Moorish embodies the beauty of the culture through its green rooftop and tall white walls. Covered with mosaics and hand-carved designs (the star) the mosque quickly became an eye-soar. Sitting on three acres of land, this mosque had a welcoming presence, that allowed a tour, so I could indulge in more about my knowledge surrounding the Islamic faith. Also located in Place Monge is a Moroccan Halal cafe called La Mosquée (The Mosque) which emphasizes the culture with amazing cuisine and a spectacular mint tea. Just like the Great Mosque the architecture and design transport you to an Arabian foreign city and submerges you into the culture. Place Monge is well known for its Jardin des Plantes ( Garden of Plants), 68 acres of undoubting knowledge of our world, dedicated to science. This green space has the Grand Gallery of Evolution, 23,500 species of plants, and 6 million dried references of species. It also contains a library, labyrinth, and a small zoo. Perfect place for a scientist like me to learn more clues about our natural world. 

Place Monge upon arriving is the heart of where the Islamic faith resides introducing their cuisine and culture here. Before this stop, I had little to no knowledge about this culture, only stigmatism surrounding it. I feel ashamed that the world gave an ugly name to such a beautiful culture. Especially one that created modern mathematics, even the stop was named after a French man, instead of one pertaining to Arabian origins, the father of algebra and trigonometry. Going to the Garden of Plants, made me fall in love more with my educational background and reinforced why I study so hard so that I can learn more about how the world goes round. Place Monge is the perfect place to enrich yourself with cultural diversity and scientific backgrounds.


Historical insight/Personal Observation

This stop is named after Place du Chatelet, a place named after the Grand Châtelet, a castle that was demolished by Napoleon in 1802. The castle was a northern approach to the Pont au Change between the Seine to Île de la Cité. The medieval term, ‘Châtelet’ meant a small castle that overlooks a bridge. This explains why this stop is facing the Seine. Opened on August 6th,1900, originally part of line 1 between Porte de Vincennes and Porte Maillot. It is ranked as the 9th busiest stop on the Metro line. Located in the center of medieval Paris, this station in the 1st arrondissement is one of the most affluent stops on metro line 7. Upon entering, lies a statue for Napoleon to commemorate his victories, displacing himself touching the sky. The Place du Chatelet contains a fountain, Fontaine du Palmier built in 1806. Napoleon built this fountain to provide free public water and recognize his victories within the Battles of; Ulm, Marengo, Lodi, and the Pyramids. There are also stone Sphinx statues to display his victory in Egypt. A couple of meters away lies the Tour de Saint Jacques, which is a green space that contains a gothic building. Built between 1509 – 1523, the building is the only remains of the Eglise Saint Jacques de la Boucherie ( Church of Saint James of the Butchery church) that was destroyed in 1797, (during the French Revolution of course). This church served as a refuge for pilgrims to the route of Spain, Santiago de Compostela. Standing at 52 meters high, located on Rue de Rivoli, a street named after the victory of Napoleon against the Austrians in the Battle of Rivoli.

Châtelet is a district that keeps the French culture alive by remembering the historical past, leaving behind Napoleon’s footprint. Restaurants and famous Bouquinistes facing the Seine, the Parisian lifestyle is savored in this district. I found myself instantly entranced by the calamity of the city as it starkly contrasts with the city life back in America. In this district, the past remains part of the present, the dead living among the living with pride and prestige as they should.

Pont Neuf 

Historical insight/Personal Observation

This stop is named after the Port that is located nearby, Pont Neuf, the oldest existing bridge in Paris. Opened on April 16th,1926, on the right bank of old Paris, it reverend the memory of the old minting factory. The station holds a surname ( La Monnaie) and is decorated with oversized old coins from the past to modern age monetary currencies. There is even an old coining press at the station. The Paris Mint is one of the oldest French institutions, created in the year 864 by King Charles the Bald. Located in the 6th arrondissement, La Monnaie is named because of its vicinity to Rue de la Monnaie, where the Paris mint was located, Hotel de la Monnaie, which was reconstructed in 1776, so this station pays tribute to the old mint. Now the Musée de la Monnaie de Paris can be found in Pont Neuf, keeping the memory of all mint press and is the location of the Établissment monétaire de Passac in Gironde, which opened in 1973. Focuses on repurposing metals, and art objects and forming collector currencies that can all be seen at the museum. Also facing the Seine, Pont Neuf is best known for its history, architecture, and bouquinistes, street vendors under green setups that sell antique books and magazines. Best known for making forbidden books accessible to the public. These green setups are all around the left bank and overlook the river, ensuring the French culture stays alive. Buying the original story of Romeo & Juliet from a bouquinist made my experience in France complete. Learning every day, something new is embedded in the streets of Paris. 

The Orginal Romeo & Juliet Copy Book . Photo by Saina Ysaac / CC BY 4.0

Porte de La Villette 

Historical insight/Personal Observation

This station is named after the Gallo-Roman village, Villette. In 1426 the village was remanded Villette-Saint-Miser-Lez-Paris, and in 1860 it became a part of Paris. 19th-century stone walls known as “century walls”, were called the Porte de la Villette. Opened on November 5th, 1910, located in the 19th arrondissement. In my opinion one of the poorest station on line 7. Even though it bears the presence of Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the biggest science museum in Europe, located in the Parc de la Villette, opened in 1986. Originally the green space was used for cattle and abattoirs but was transformed into a Grande Halle, under the provisions of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing. This museum became the 5th most popular museum in Paris, with over 70 million people visiting since its opening. My experience with this line was the most impactful of them all, opening my eyes to homelessness. My experience was partly influenced by the time of day I visited the area, during the evening at around 6 pm. Walking down from Corentin Cariou, it instantly reminded me of Figueroa Street, notoriously known as “Skid Row” in Los Angeles, California. Long over the Atlantic Ocean, homelessness continues to follow even in the famous city in the world. The area should be labeled as a Red-Light district, as it is a very poverty-stricken area, walking along the streets there were mainly men. I presume they were in search of sex work, prostitution is not a surprise. What shocked me the most was the form of architecture, it was vastly different from the Haussmann Parisian style of the 1st and 4th arrondissements. The buildings seem to be fairly modern, built from the latest decade at least. I assume the reason for the new and modern buildings is to compensate for the overflowing majority of immigrants traveling to Paris, in hope of a new life. With an influx of people in the area, jobs become harder to find, which causes unemployment. This in return creates homelessness, I found small areas of slums filled with tents during my walk. I was absolutely surprised that not far from the biggest museum in Europe, is a group of people crying for change. This drastic change of opulence just by a cross of a street demonstrated to me that with great riches comes great debt.


Historical insight/Personal Observation

This stop is named after the Opéra Garnier/ Palais Garnier, which was built by Charles Garnier in 1875. This area is the heart of the district, Boulevard Haussmann. The station started in Line 3 on October 19th, 1904, lines 7 and 8 were later integrated by February of 1904. Line 7 officially opened on November 5th, 1910, the walls in the metro were initially Andreu-Motte style to be reincarnated as a Mouton-Duvernet style with a blue ceiling. But in 2007, this entire layout was removed when RATP – Renouveau du métro programme created a new standard. Located at the end of the Avenue de l’Opera, this area absolutely captures the Parisian culture. This stop is exactly how I imagined Paris to be. Near the Eiffel Tower is nice, but near the Palais is a MUST for all tourists to go. Fancy, opulence stores from Prada to Zara flooded the street front. Located near Pyramides and the Lovure, Opera carries a reputation that many cannot emulate, here the academy of music lies. Palais Garnier is an “Italian style” auditorium with a museum library, rehearsal studios, and public workshops. This historical monument can hold about 2054 observers, and bring half a million visitors each year. This is the prettiest stop on line 7 and is a complete contrast to Porte de la Villette. Opera is what I expected Paris to be, but Porte de la Villette is what Paris actually is in the background. Even in the midst of great beauty, I was reminded of the reality in the adjacent arrondissement.

Palais Garnier. Photo by Saina Ysaac / CC BY 4.0

La Courneuve – 8 Mai 1945

Historical insight/Personal Observation

La Cournerve is an old commune in Saint-Denis, that became the industrial capital of France in 1863. The date is symbolic of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day). This marked the end of World War II in Europe, after Hitler/ Germany’s surrender to the Allied Powers on Tuesday, May 8th, 1945. This station is the northernest stop and is marked on the north end on line 7. This station located in the arrondissement called Saint-Denis is an area that reminded me of Miami, with the beautiful colors on the buildings that surround it. Upon arriving I found a very large supermarket nearly 3 stories tall and modern buildings. I was instantly brought back to America with this stop. The area contains the least-known cemetery but is the largest in Paris at 1.07 square kilometers. There are nearly 100 World War I British veterans, and 68 German veterans. This station is also one of the lower-income areas on line 7, with an influx of immigrants but a beautiful diversity in ethnic backgrounds. I found plenty of oriental food options from Viatamesie to Indian cuisine here.


Historical insight/Personal Observation

Named after the Battle of Stalingrad, a battle that took place from 1942 – 1943, was the U.S.S.R (Russia) defense against the invading Nazis. This turned the tide against the Axis powers and a win for the Allied Powers, beginning the efforts for D-Day. This station first opened under the name of Rue d’Aubervilliers, as an extension of line 2. A separate station was opened under the name of Boulevard de la Villette, eventually merging creating Place de Stalingrad, it’s opening on October 12th,1942. Eventually being renamed Stalingrad in 1946. This station was built to celebrate the Soviet Union’s victory and is located near Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad ( the Battle Square of Stalingrad). This was formerly part of Boulevard de la Villette but was inaugurated on July 7th, 1945 for then “Place de Stalingrad”. This green space contains a monument in commemoration of the vicious bloody battle. Upon entering this district I was reminded of America, with its modern buildings and tattoo parlors that seemed to be at every corner. Along with frequent smoke shops, the area reminded me of small areas in Miami, where a fast culture is appreciated. Tattoos and drugs are the basis of any fast city, not a surprise to find them here in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The essence of the area can be described with one word, “risqué”, even the graffiti that flooded the streets seemed to be part of a progressive moment, the art style differing from the others I have seen. Seemed to be a counterculture as a tidal effect of the political climate of the country. Nonetheless, it seemed to be a lower class area but captured the typical American new generation culture.

Villejuif- Paul Valliant-Couturier

Historical insight/Personal Observation

Named after a commune called “Villejuif” (Jewish Village), and the former mayor, Paul Vaillant-Couturier. Opened on February 28th, 1985, located in the 13th arrondissement, the station is decorated with white and orange ceramic titles, orange titles covering the tunnel exit stairs. This style is regarded as Motte, one of the most appealing architectural styles in line 7. Upon entering the station, it felt like I was in a rural part of America, somewhere out in the Northern Middle East states, especially with the soft cottages that surrounded the area. Villejuif is a slower suburban area outside the hectic city and reminded me of home, with a club, honing the name of my street name, “Forest Hill”. Most of the advertisements that surrounded the area were in English, describing that most of the inhabitants were either educated in speaking English or is known for a strong English presence. I even found a restaurant that was in all English, selling Parisian cuisine. Villejuif means Jewish Village, but just down the street was a Mosquée de Villejuif, how ironic! Within the district also lies a hospital, l’hopital Paul- Brousse, named after the socialist Paul Brousse. Finding a Pizza Hut plus an English-speaking restaurant made me feel right at home in this former Jewish commune village.

Forest Hill Club in Villejuif. Photo by Saina Ysaac / CC BY 4.0


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