The first GTL2000 lecture was given by Dr. Birchfield and covered some of the information our class already knew. She restated her fundamental belief that the EU is a peace project and kept the lecture engaging by opening up questions to the audience. One of these questions asked what people thought were the requirements for a country to join the EU (our class knew the answer of course). Some correct guesses were about the economies and democracies, but one interesting guess was that the country had to be in Europe. Surprisingly, this is not true, and this led to an interesting discussion. Instead, the third and final requirement is that the countries have to be able to adapt to everything else already in place.
I really enjoyed this lecture because it served as a review for things we already knew, and it was stimulating because it hit the highlights of the EU. Dr. Birchfield had a slide giving statistics on how two-thirds of people surveyed feel that they are citizens of the EU and some other powerful statistics to fully back up the claim the the EU is a peace project, even though some people have realist or Euroskeptic viewpoints. She also talked about Lafayette and how he was a hero of both the American and French Revolutions, and she brought up the notion of what it means to be willing to spill your blood for an idea.
Dr. Birchfield also included an anecdote about asking previous students to try to find positive media coverage of the EU for extra credit (which they could never do), and this transitioned into an explanation of the irony of Brexit and how it has impacted people’s perceptions of the EU. Now people are more educated on what the EU actually is (as proven by the most popular Google search following Brexit), and opinions regarding the EU are more positive. Although people may still have mixed opinions, it is important avoid using a “single story” on which to base judgements, as pulled from Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk called “The Danger of a Single Story.” I think my favorite thing I took from Dr. Birchfield’s lecture is that even when we are already educated on the EU, there is always more to learn and understand about how and why it functions, and what that means in the greater context.
The second GTL2000 lecture was given by Sonia Serafin on the culture of France. She gave an overview of some things France is famous for and kept it exciting by including pictures and videos. A memorable one of those video clips showed fireworks surrounding the Eiffel Tower which was quite an impressive display. She went over some famous drinks, musicians, etc. from France and even touched on cultural differences between France and the US by showing us the Google results from typing in “snail” versus “escargot.” I think the most interesting part of her lecture was when she talked about how French people are very proud of their country because this is even visible in my everyday life here in Metz. I’ve noticed this displayed in things like the pronunciation of “Metz,” the reappearing symbol of “RF,” and even the way French people speak about their country compared to others. I think it was nice to get an overview of France in a lecture while also being able to go out and explore this country on our own.
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