Dual BA Program Students Reflect on the French Elections in Paris Match Magazine

Dual BA Program Students Reflect on the French Elections in Paris Match Magazine

Three Dual BA Program students were recently published in Paris Match, a well-known weekly French magazine. Jimmy Quinn, Yen Ba Vu, and Ryan Zohar each considered a word commonly used by French presidential candidates as part of the magazine’s Le Poids des Mots (“The Weight of Words”) series. Drawing on the unique cross-continental experiences afforded to them by the Dual BA Program, these students offered unique insights on the election cycle.

U.S.-born Quinn, a first-year student currently studying on Sciences Po’s Reims campus, reflected on système (system) from among the candidates’ words and contemplated the rise of anti-establishment candidates in the U.S. and in France.

“Populists across the West like to rail against ‘the system,’” he writes, “but perhaps this word represents less a corrupt cabal of global elites to be overthrown by ‘the people’ than a set of gradually evolving structural patterns that will benefit new political entrepreneurs of all varieties, not just those on the extremes.”

Vu, spending her second year in Le Havre, mulled over indépendance (independence), comparing its ideation in France to that in her home country of Vietnam. She warns against the rhetoric of the candidates, particularly Le Pen, who claim France must maintain or win back its independence.

“There is but one step between reclaiming independence and making the erroneous assumption of subjugation…international cooperation may mean interdependence, but it signifies nothing of subordination,” Vu writes.

She contrasts the quest for independence of Vietnam, a former colony which gained independence at a high cost, with that of the French candidates, who speak for a former colonial empire.

Zohar, an American second-year student on the Menton campus, broaches the topic of langue (language). The importance of national language has long been emphasized in France, and Zohar contrasts this with the multilingual United States—which has no official language at all. He encourages France to draw from the example of his home country.

“France, like the United States, is a mosaic of cultures, languages, ethnicities, and histories,” he writes. “Even if this coexistence is not always easy, it is an integral part of French identity.”

In many ways, the comparative perspectives of these students are informed by their multilingual, multicultural, and multinational experiences, including the innovative transatlantic undergraduate education provided by the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po.