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“Paris, an International, Multicultural Mecca”

If you haven’t noticed, Paris is wildly campaigning to be chosen for the 2012 Olympic games. The message is EVERYWHERE. Banners are on thousands of lampposts. Bridges, quais, buildings and monuments are lit in Olympic colors. People are wearing lapel pins “Paris 2012” and the news coverage is endless. It’s a heated race to the July 6th finish when the members of the International Olympic Committee will vote to determine which city (London, Madrid, Moscow, New York or Paris) will host the 2012 Olympic Games.

It will be a great honor for Paris as well as an economic victory, for hosting the Games would mean seeing 42,000 lasting jobs created and an increase in GDP of EUR 35 billion over a seven-year period. Property investors with rental apartments are seeing Euro signs in their horizons.

Paris is a likely choice as an international Mecca, a multicultural hodgepodge as complex as a Bayeux tapestry. Since taking the plunge to live in France, I have been fascinated with the differences between our cultures (American and French) as well as among the others.

Living in Europe, you are surrounded by peoples as unalike as one might imagine with only their interwoven histories in common. It allows Europeans to have a natural and greater understanding of different languages, customs, physical attributes and cultural and political ideas. It’s easy for a westerner such as myself to see Europe as one big blob, especially now that the European Union exists with one currency and one constitution, but trust me, it’s not. The French are no more like the Germans than the Italians are like the British. And we’re not like any of them.

Friday opens the 25th Annual Salon du Livre, a six-day event at the exhibition Hall 1 at Porte de Versailles, this year honoring Russian literature. Two thousand authors and illustrators are taking part in the fair’s numerous booksigning sessions with more than 1,200 publishers coming from near and far to promote every sort of book from poetry to comic strips, detective stories to essays and in this special case…cultural crossings! The fair is devoting a special section for Cosmopolivres, to represent its international standing with more than 300 publishers coming to introduce the literature from more than 25 countries.

That’s why Ruth Mastron and Gilles Asselin have come to town — authors of “Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French,” one of the finest intercultural perspectives on the bookshelf today. The first edition was in English and is now out in a French version. Ruth has delighted the audiences at two past Living in France Conferences (Washington, DC and New Orleans) with her intercultural crossings perspectives and is planning on opening our upcoming Working and Living in France Conference here in Paris May 20 – 22. She and Gilles are featured at a few events around town this week, so now’s your chance to satisfy your intercultural curiosity:

Sunday night the 20th, 6:30 p.m., they will address the topic of “CROSS CULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS: MYTHS AND REALITY,” at Patricia Laplante Collins Sunday Soirées where you can mingle, mix, meet, have dinner and relax with their poignant prose.

Tuesday, March 22 from 7 to 9 p.m., come for drinks and conversation at France-Amériques where they will be the featured speakers.

(Details are provided in the Community Calendar, so be sure to scroll further down.)

For those wanting an even-deeper understanding, Monday, March 21st, The French-American Foundation and France-Amériques is sponsoring a 5-hour seminar from 3 to 8 p.m. titled “Genesis of Revolutions: The Twin Births of Republican Nations.” “The seminar seeks to shed light on an aspect of the French and American revolutions that is not frequently studied, namely the intellectual and political interaction of American and French revolutionaries, in order to highlight the mutual influence of
their political ideas and activities.”

And for those who wish to support the city’s effort to host the 2012 Olympic Games, be sure to visit the official site at
http://www.parisjo2012.fr/en/index.jsp and submit an online showing of your support by posting a personal message.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
[email protected]

P.S. I look forward to seeing many of you Saturday morning at Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group for conversation in French and English and then a celebration of its 7th Anniversary with a party open to all you wanting to mix and mingle while enjoing lunch of Soup, Salad and Cake. (Scroll down for more details or visit http://www.parlerparlor.com/) Special note:
Parler Parlor will be closed Saturday, March 26th for Easter Weekend.

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