(May 22, 2014)

Paris May Module students explore the "meaningful life"

SHREVEPORT, LA — More than 20 Centenary students are immersing themselves in Parisian culture this month as part of the May Module trip to Paris, France. The students, along with Dr. Jeff Hendricks, Professor of English and Professor Bruce Allen, Professor of Art departed for Paris on May 5 and will return later this month.

Centenary students outside of the Conciergerie

Centenary's modules are a set of month-long immersive courses available in a variety of academic areas. By participating in a May Module, students fulfill their requirements for Trek, an innovative program through which all Centenary students partake in experiential learning by exploring opportunities in the areas of career, culture, and community.

In Paris, students are exploring the question of what it means to live a "good," "meaningful," and "quality" life. During their study, "Americans in Paris: The Quest for the Good Life," they are examining numerous texts by American writers, artists, musicians, and intellectuals who lived and worked in Paris. Students are comparing and contrasting their own experience of Paris with their lives in the United States and with readings from American writers, philosophers, statesmen, and artists who have traveled to Paris since before the American Revolution.

"They are interacting daily with Morrocan street food vendors, Senegalese bus drivers, Algerian restaurant waitstaff, and French civil servants, all the while trying to negotiate a different language and different cultural manners," said Hendricks. "Our students have experienced a variety of new and different cuisines, attended the Paris Opera to see ballet, ridden bicycles along the same paths through the gardens of Versailles upon which Marie Antoinette rode in her royal carriage, played basketball with French students in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and exchanged ideas and opinions daily in cafes and bistros with students from across the world."

Hendricks is documenting the trip with a photo blog to highlight the excursions and sights that students experience each day.

"All in all, I believe our students who have gone to Paris have a greater awareness of what this culture can teach us about how to live a good life, a life of good food, of beautiful things, of civilized manners," said Hendricks. "But they have also been made more aware of what we have to be thankful for back in our home country."