My Time in France

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.


My father was born in a little village in the south of France called Le Chambon in 1944. In that village, 5,000 Christians saved 5,000 Jews, including my grandfather, my grandmother, and my father.

Last summer, I visited Le Chambon for the first time. I went alone, proud of my fluency in French, and proud of the fact that I was alone. I stayed in a little camp a mile north of the town, and everyday my cigarette-smoking French friends and I would walk to the historical village, plant ourselves in the wooden chairs of the local bar, and watch the older people walking by, smirking at us.

The days passed just as the days pass in the beginning of most short stories - slow, repetitive, pleasant. I would look at the stony buildings, noting the arcane architecture, wondering whether my grandparents had noted the same thing. I would look at the old faces of the village, imagining them 50 years younger, when they were the most simple, straightforward manifestations of goodness the world would ever forget. None of this however stirred me even enough to put a word of it in my journal.

I was then cordially invited to the house of the woman who had sheltered my father and grandparents. My father had alerted her by letter that I was in town.

When...

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