Memories from former residents
As a Harriet Hale Woolley scholar, I profited greatly from the vibrant artistic community in the house and around the city of Paris. As a painter, I adored the abundance of natural light in my studio, and as an artist, I benefited from collaborating with other artist and musicians within the building. The supportive community at FEU led me to attend French courses during my time there, which proceeded to me making my first public introduction in French at the opening of my solo exhibition Black(ness) is Beautiful at the FEU. I am truly thankful for the time I spent at the FEU along with the community of friends I've gained in Paris and around the world. I will always reflect on this wonderful year with a new perspective towards life and art.
Part of the experience of staying at the Fondation Des États-Unis was being able to live and work among others visual artists and musicians. The studios on the 5th floor had both artists, to the left, and musicians, to the right. Separated only by a corridor, they shared their art throughout the year: experimental compositions, chamber music, painting, sculpture…. All year round.
It was also a privilege to wake up every morning and watch the sun rise on the terrace, choosing my breakfast among a palette of traditional dishes from across the world, all within a few minutes of walking time at the CiuP. The FEU created a wealth of diversity, curiosity, and friendliness within its international community.
One of the best things that happened to me during my years in Paris as a student was the discovery of the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris (CiuP). As a resident I was able to meet and work with students from many different backgrounds. I was also able to enjoy the cultural and social life at the CiuP, so rich and vibrant.
I lived for two years at the Foundation of the United States (FEU). During my stay, I regularly participated in both the activities of my house and those of other houses on campus. These experiences allowed me to develop many deep and long-lasting friendships. This world of diversity left a deep impression on me as it led me to work later on at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, and then at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C.
It is a pleasure and pride to serve on the Board of the U.S. Foundation, where we are committed to preserving an environment that fosters connections among our talented young international students.
My time at the FEU in Paris was one of the best experiences of my life. Imagine living in a studio on the top floor at 23 years old with huge windows and a breathtaking view of the park. It's every artist's dream. Every day, I would paint or draw with the harmony of a saxophone, a piano or a singer practicing in his studio as a background, and I would pause to admire the Montsouris park.
The year I spent at the FEU as a Harriet Hale Woolley scholar was quite simply indispensable. It allowed me to continue what I had already started during my adolescence: I was able to train with my astounding mentor Nadia Boulanger, with whom I had worked for several years in a row at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. In spring of that year, I made my debut in Paris at the prestigious Salle Gaveau, and at the end of that year, at the recital I gave at the FEU, I was able to include a work written for and dedicated to me by a French composer whom I met thanks to the Paris debut. The trajectory from student to professional was completely natural and the role of the FEU in all of this can never be forgotten.
My stay at the FEU changed my life. Prior to receiving the fellowship, I had worked in an office in New York for a year after graduating from art school. Being at the FEU helped forge habits that later helped me become a professional artist.
While at the FEU, I discovered the joys (and tribulations) of the Parisian artist’s studio. Drafty and noisy, it was hardly perfect. But being surrounded by creative students put me in the mood to work harder, practice harder, and party harder; probably to the regret of my neighbours. And as bad as the Resto U was, cheap meals meant a lot at that time in my life. Among other great projects, I founded an avant-garde magazine with the bemused encouragement of the director at the time, and launched a music ensemble which would later tour Germany, France, and Holland. All that would not have been possible without the FEU.
My time at the CiuP and the FEU is deeply cherished! The years I spent there as an IR master’s student provided the opportunity for me to meet other students from all over the world and interact with them on a daily basis -- ideal for anyone truly interested in other cultures and international relations! Whether cooking together while deconstructing French philosophy or debating the merits of realist theory; whether enjoying the grand grounds centred around an impromptu picnic or a jog at dusk; whether catching a show at the local theatre or planning cycling adventures farther afield, these moments catalysed close friendships with people I still hold dear, and who continue to enrich my academic and personal spheres. I also met the most important person in my life (whom I would later marry) while living at the FEU, thanks to the CiuP’s goal and spirit of bringing together people from diverse cultures. For this I will be forever grateful. My appreciation of the FEU, though, would not be complete without mention of its many study spaces, where, as an ambitious graduate student, I saw many a “nuit blanche”. Now committed to new research pursuits in other corners of the world, I’m still on the lookout for another such library, open at all hours, and full of history, wooden bookcases, and inspired students looking to expand their minds and horizons.