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Ryan B.

Jean, une bonne idée! I guess I have the honor of being the first to post on the new blog. Ironically, I had lunch twice this past week with a couple of our auditors (at work) from PWC; both were French and in their late 20's. I discovered that not only did I retain the language well enough to have roughly 4 hours of uninterrupted conversation about a variety of issues, but that I also understood and empathized with the French [and/or European] perspective on the topics we discussed. Being expatriates in these United States, they had two key concerns about the suburban Midwest: 1)Why is it so difficult to find a place to sit outside, eat lunch and talk? 2)Why does it seem there are not many open minds around here? It is my fervent hope that this venue will serve as a respite for such frustrations, and that what Pierre and Hervé were missing will be found here. This blog should be full of truth, humor and personal expression within the context of a culture continually scapegoated, mocked and misunderstood, but simultaneously appreciated, studied and revered. Of course, all societies have two sides to them in the 21st century. But, the best way to develop meaningful dialogue for everyone's benefit is to leave such stereotypical, xenophobic nonsense at the door. I look forward to reading and commenting on issues presented here in the future. Can we be objective AND emotional? I think so. I think a forum of common interest, backed up by personal experience and continually evolving perspective is a wonderful idea, so long as it is under the pretense of mutual respect and willingness to listen to others in a collective environment. If Voltaire were among us now, he would remind us, "Judge someone by their questions rather than their answers. Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." A bientôt!


I just had dinner last night with the owner of a restaurant in San Francisco. Silly me, I thought he was an educated man. He is 60ish and financially successful. He's a member of my husband's dive club. When he found out that I'm a teacher of French in a high school, he asked me what I thought of "The French". I replied that I like some & don't like others. You know, I like some people & don't like others. Then he proceeded to regale me with how awful the French are. He has never been to France and doesn't know any French people, but based on what he's read (I didn't ask him what publications he reads) they are arrogant, egotistical and insular. Afterall, they didn't join us in Iraq. Before I could blow a gasket, my husband rescued me (or his dive buddy?) by changing the subject.

I've travelled in France 20+ times in the last 40 years, and I have mostly positive stories of my experiences. I love France and the French people I know. I abhor the narrowmindedness of Americans who have never travelled and experienced another culture. I hope my students will never exhibit such ignorance.


It is not unusual that there exists this love-hate relationship between the US and France. In personal relationships, sadly,it is often those with whom we are the closest whom we criticize the most. Because we love them so much we want them to be "perfect", that is, to conform to our own idea of perfection. When they do not match our image,then we become intolerant of their "flaws". It is not only Americans who have strong feelings about the French, but the French who have strong feelings about the Americans. We need to become more tolerant of our own short-comings and perhaps we will become more tolerant of those of others.


Years ago Pierre Salinger was asked by the French media what Americans think about France. His response was that Americans DON'T think about France. That's less true today due to our involvement in Iraq, and France's disapproval, but all in all, France is not important to the average American.

janine Oberg Silberstein

thank you for the lovely comments about my douce France, i amso proud to be french, and like you when i am there i smell in the scents of my country, it probably sound ridiculous, i married an american soldier lived in the U.S 52 years, and i am still the biggest francophile you could ever meet. i do love America my children re born here, but i left a big part of my heart in my douce France, and every so often i need to return like being reborn. Its a pitty i find americans so i gnorant about our culture, ways, food, some dont even know where France is geographically located, i am amzed, france being the largest country in western Europe. i am grateful to all of you for feeling the way you do about la belle france.

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