French UO students feel the impact of Paris attacks

For Charlotte Honiat, a University of Oregon junior exchange student from Argein, France, being away from her country during the tragedy that took place on Friday has had an emotional impact. Honiat has lived in Oregon for two months, but plans to visit France in December.

“I feel powerless,” Honiat said. “You are just in the waiting that makes you feel so far from your home, and you realize that you miss your family.”

This feeling also resonates with Alice Poyet, a UO psychology junior exchange student from Saint-Etienne, France. Poyet said she celebrated her first two months in the United States last Thursday before the attack in Paris.

“Can we really make it better, or have we already gone too far?” Poyet said. “If we look at what’s happening everywhere in the world, these events are part of everyday life. I feel too small and powerless facing that.”

Feeling powerless is just one reaction from French students.

Théo Barbaste, a UO junior from Lyon, France, has lived in the United States since September, said the distance does not decrease worry.

“I was worried for my cousins who all lived in Paris,” Barbaste said. “I know they are OK. I talked with them earlier in the morning [after the attacks], and they described a climate of terror.”

Honiat says the incident points to a government and a world in need of introspection.

“It is a pity that we must wait until hundreds of people are killed for the French government to react,” Honiat said. “The world is becoming aware that terrorism is something to be taken with seriousness.”

Poyet said she is rooting for more action around similar attacks not only in Paris but around the world as well.

“Of course I’m French and I feel pain for my nation, but we have to see the bigger picture and not wait for another incident to do something,” Poyet said. “I don’t feel safer here. It was only one month since I arrived when there was this shooting at the Umpqua Community College and it could have been [at] UO, but if we think like that we would wake up everyday with a stomachache, afraid of going out and that’s definitely not how I want to live.”

Barbaste said the incident points to more than just the perpetrators, but also the governments in which attacks happen.

“The responsibility is collective,” Barbaste said. “There is certainly not the wicked one side and the good of the other. The collective is accountable.”

The exchange students said they are thinking of the victims and their families, as well as hoping for a better world.

“Each time I hear about such attack, my heart is divided between sadness and [anger],” Poyet said. “I have faith in humanity and all the good things that we can do and create together united, but events like this make me doubt my faith and I find it really sad that we need them to remind us how the world is hurting and messy and in need of care.”

Honiat, Poyet and Barbaste said their friends and families are safe.

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Olivia Decklar

Olivia Decklar