Dinaw Mengestu at the Library
6 June 2011
American Lady
20 June 2011

Spelman student Briana Haymon

Each year, the Library is fortunate to have interns from American universities. We all felt very lucky to have Briana Haymon with us. In this essay, she talks about her experiences in Paris.

My Time at the American Library in Paris

By Briana Haymon

As an International Studies major at Spelman College studying abroad is a requirement for my discipline. I chose Paris because I was in love with the language, and equally as interested in learning about the culture. Coming to France, with less than two years worth of language study, was an eye opening and challenging experience. I will be quick to admit that my first few weeks in Paris were quite daunting. Maneuvering around this new city and completely foreign culture took a lot more getting used to than expected. But it was within my second week that I was given the opportunity to work with the American Library in Paris as an intern for the spring semester, and I still believe that accepting the position truly enhanced my experience in Paris.

As an intern I was asked to do a number of administrative tasks from checking in and checking out books to shelving books. I enjoyed every moment, because the job allowed for me to not only talk to and get to know the library’s countless members, but it also gave me a chance to read a variety of books. “The Truth About Forever” by Sarah Dessen was one of my favorites. Although it is a young adult novel I really enjoyed the themes of personal development, acceptance, and perseverance through the trials that life may bring. I truly recommend it for young adults and collegiate students alike. Sarah Dessen has many other novels, and her writing style is as beautiful as the stories she creates.

Aside from working at the circulation desk, I also regularly volunteered during the evening events at the library. Again, I found that it was so enriching to talk to and essentially learn from the wealth of people that came into the library every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for various events. I regularly came in contact with published authors, journalists, and working artists from all over the world. All of the culture and history that thrived within these events left me with such an appreciation for the arts, as well as the mission of the American Library. I realized that the Library was not only a place to read books, but also a place where people with common interest were able to commune with one another over common interests and languages.

Working at the American Library in Paris this past semester added so much to my study abroad experience. I didn’t expect to become so invested in the mission of the Library, but I quickly came to appreciate everything that it stood for. Beyond acting as a place for people to come and read, which is a favorite past time of mine, it was also a place where people were given the chance to commune with each other and to share interest that not only involved literature, but also history, politics, society, and art. The American Library introduced me to a variety of interesting people with even more interesting stories to tell. I truly enjoyed the semester spent at the library, and I believe my time in Paris would not have been the same without it.

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