Eyes on the City: “Diving In”


As you step out of the crowded wagon, you feel it right away. It is in the air, a kind of electricity. It radiates everywhere, as if every passer-by was the pole of an alkaline battery. It is more acute than a mere atmosphere : you feel it like a real sensation, a shiver, running its claws down your spine. Both stressful and exciting. You have the impression to be a high-liner sent on the cable without harness : you are unsafe, but oddly confident – in fact, your location is nothing but the usual.

You know it in here.

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“Eyes on the City” ENTRY 1

Introduction: As a third-culture child, I set my foot to trace for my identity in Beijing, Ulan Bator, New York, Richmond, and many more. Growing up in the city means finding a unique path to embrace my narrative in the beauty of collisions of globalization.

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Interview with Our 2020 Year Rep Candidates

“On the eve of election and results day, succeeding (our marvelous) Zhenhao Li is not an easy thing in a time which fragments discourses, limits exchanges, and restrains meetings. Yet, our dedicated and motivated candidates all stretched their imaginations and adaptability to let each student consider their core values and plans.”
By Lea Gambier, Ugo Fava & Louis Takei De Sola

Amidst digital but united times, the year rep campaign of 2020 has been unfolding for one week now, during which you were able to enjoy the glittering posters, catchy videos, caring calls, and innovative plans of our dear candidates. Not only acting as a bridge between the administration and student concerns, the Year Rep is a decisive cornerstone for our cohort. This year especially emphasized the need for diversity, caring, consideration, accessibility and assertiveness.

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Interview with our Year Rep Candidates

First year student Ashley interviews the three year rep candidates to find out more about them and their ideas and motivations.

Running for Year Rep is no easy task — it requires devising new ideas to improve the Sciences Po community, an inordinate amount of effort, and knowing how best to capitalise on the allure of food.

While each candidate often does their best to pitch their ideas to a range of people during the campaign period, you might not have had this one-on-one opportunity. If you’re still deciding on who to vote for as the election date approaches, the responses of this year’s candidates’ (Any Li, Joaquin Castillo and Zhenhao Li) to our questions might help with your deliberation.

1. Campaign mottos and ideas aside, tell us more about yourself. What is one thing people don’t know about you?

Any: I play several kinds of instruments, and I’ll also be joining the KPop club after Diwali. One interesting fun fact is that I dream very often and they usually come in a series of stories; I remember all of my dreams very clearly. Usually, people say that if you don’t sleep well, you will dream… But I have dreams every day and I remember them so clearly, as if they were movies or dramas. There was once when I dreamt that I got out of a Metro station that looked like Paris, and there was a war going on (I’m not projecting anything!) and we had to go down into a cave to hide. Then, I was elected as the spy of our group to talk to the people who had initiated the war to reach peace.

Joaquin: I agree that it’s important to know more about the candidates so I created a video on that, where I talked about liking basketball, athletics and sports. But maybe something else that others don’t really know about me is that I always try to work for people because I feel that it’s my duty to be with people and help improve their lives. In fact, I used to be a Year Representative in my high school. Another thing I would say is that I miss the hikes that I used to do with my family — we used to go to the mountains near my village (in Spain), and this provided special moments for me to discover nature and the environment, which I really appreciated. I also miss going to the beach, and going to the sea, for sure.

Zhenhao: One fun fact about me is that I don’t eat coriander because I don’t like the smell of it. Also, I think that sometimes, people may feel that I might speak better Chinese than English, but please don’t hesitate to talk to me in English because it helps me practice expressing myself in English. I just really like communicating with people, so I guess that’s one thing about me that I’d like to share.

2. What motivated you to run for Year Rep?

Any: The Year Rep is supposed to represent the interests of all students. This year, we have more nationalities and ethnicities than ever before, so I think it’s very important to represent the interests of everyone. Last year, I also worked in a voluntary organisation and we introduced policies and information flows between migrant children and schools, so I’m familiar with having to communicate with others.

Joaquin: I think we’re used to seeing ways of representation that we don’t like. I think it’s a necessity to create or innovate or prove that there’s another way to be more democratic, and to show that our representation not only listens to all voices, but is also efficient in the things that it does. I would like this campaign to, in a certain way, revitalise and provide new ideas — not just ideas imposed by the candidates on others, but also more collaborative, where ideas are shared horizontally by everyone. This is what I call “guarantees of improvement”. This is why I think that renewing and strengthening the democratic process and the way we’re being represented is particularly important for our generation, because we’re the ones capable of inventing democracy, change political systems and invent new ideas. That is why I would like to be the one to represent the ideas of the people and of all their voices.

Zhenhao: I’m running for Year Rep because I feel that it is a way for me to connect with other people in my year. I really appreciate everyone’s talent and I would love to talk to as many people as possible. I also talk about my motivations in a video I uploaded to my Facebook page, so you can check that out too.

3. Given Sciences Po’s diverse student body, how do you plan on being accessible to your peers?

Any: Firstly, I’ve joined many clubs, which consist of people from different backgrounds who speak different languages, and I get to interact with them. Speaking of languages, I’m currently working on French B1 and hopefully I’ll get to B2 by next year so that I’ll be better able to communicate with students who are more comfortable speaking in French. Personally, I don’t want to put too much pressure on students, so I don’t think I will be organising General Assemblies with mandatory attendance just because everyone is so busy. But what I will do is to create a Facebook page with a link to a questionnaire asking for general solutions or suggestions to campus-related issues. It’s fine if you don’t want to fill it in, but I just want to ensure that I’m always available if others have any concerns about both academic and non-academic issues.

Joaquin: I really want this campaign to be an opportunity for everyone, regardless of their background, to express their thoughts. I’ve been talking to people since the beginning of the campaign, who are sometimes “intermediaries” who speak with people from other classes and programmes. They then tell me the demands of other students. For the moment, I have more than 6 “intermediaries” who are both 1As and 2As, and I hope that there will be more in the next few days. Of course, I would love to listen to everyone personally, but I know this isn’t easy, so I need help from other people to be able to listen to more concerns than if I worked alone. Other than this, I’m also planning on holding some events in the coming days and will publish details on Facebook. I think both of these will help me reach out to more people, regardless of their background.

Zhenhao: My background is pretty diverse because I lived in Hungary and went to a French high school, despite only being able to speak English and Mandarin, and am also originally from China. It was quite complicated being an international student in that campus initially, but I was eventually able to overcome language and academic issues. Everyone was different in terms of their backgrounds and everyone was unique in that they have different feelings and points of view about issues, so I think this multicultural setting helped me better understand the international community. I’m also a polyglot (I speak Chinese, English and French, and a little bit of Japanese!) so I’m able to talk with different communities directly and understand their real concerns.

4. If you had to use a song to represent your campaign, what would it be?

Any: One of my favourite songs is “The Other Side of Paradise” by Glass Animals. I feel like Sciences Po is already a very ideal environment, but there are other areas for us to improve on. It’s kind of already an academic paradise, but there are still other things to improve on, and that’s on the OTHER side of paradise. I think what the Year Rep is supposed to do is to try to make this paradise more satisfactory to everyone.

Joaquin: I don’t know if this is a bit dark, but I think the song “Renegades” by X Ambassadors shows that while there are some people who don’t feel good in society, everyone is still united despite this. Comparing this to my campaign, I hope that our Year Rep, not just for this campaign but also in the ones that follow it, will help all of us feel part of this campus. I think a union between people is necessary. I wouldn’t want to see people suffering, and I want to work on everyone’s welfare.

Zhenhao: I would say the song “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx! It represents my campaign because I’ll always be there to help others with their problems, and I want them to know that I’m approachable.

5. What are some issues that you’ve identified about school life, and what are your plans to rectify them?

Any: I think the first thing would be to deal with information flows between 1As, 2As and 3As. As 1As, we don’t have an organised file of study/exam resources or previous class’ notes from 2As and 3As, and I think we could create a Drive or get access to the 2A’s drive. I also want to create a Facebook group with 1As, 2As and 3As, where we invite 3As to share their overseas experiences, as well as experiences with the Parcours civique. If we can publish some articles or videos conducted with the 3As during the Summer vacation, that would allow the 1As and 2As to have an idea of what our lives during the third year might be like. Of course, you can seek advice individually by approaching specific 3As, but you won’t be able to meet every person face to face or ask them questions individually… But with a page, information would be more accessible.

Also, I would like to start the Yearbook project as early as possible, since we started quite late last year. Another thing would be the improvement of facilities — we can install a mirror in the music room (Room A1), provide more food choices in vending machines if this is negotiable with the BDE and the administration, and also solve the problem of the broken microwave more quickly in the future. These are just some minor things in terms of facilities. Another very important thing is improving communication with Admin. It seems quite basic, but it’s something that the Year Rep must do. Sometimes, the Admin sends emails regarding the rescheduling of classes only a day before, and if we don’t check our emails, we might not see the rescheduled timings. I would like to see if these arrangements can be done in advance instead.

Joaquin: One thing I know is that the 2As have been seriously struggling with finding their place abroad in another university for their third year. I would like to help them by increasing the amount of information accessible to them — I think there’s a problem of orientation because we don’t usually have a lot of information about that, so I would definitely like to help the 2As with their third year abroad through what I would call the ‘LH Student Toolbox’, which will provide tools for everyone to express themselves and how they hope things will improve even after the campaign. The Toolbox will also provide essential information on Sciences Po life — for example, who should I email when I’m sick, and what is the information available for the third year abroad? I think it’s important to open the dialogue to the 3As who are currently abroad by inviting them back on campus or asking them to share their experiences, so that everyone is able to decide where to go for their third year. I also know that many people are struggling with CAF, which is why I would like to help the 1As with their integration here through the ‘LH Student Toolbox’.

Some other people have also told me that there aren’t enough microwaves, so one of my electoral promises is to buy more microwaves for students. Another proposition that I think is extremely necessary is to hold a General Assembly for students every two months, because this is another way for us to enforce our democracy. I would like to make all the ideas proposed during these Assemblies into a reality.

Zhenhao: Personally, I don’t have any big problems with school life. But I’ve been listening to people’s ideas and I’ve discovered that there are quite a few issues that we can try to negotiate with the administration. For instance, the absence policy is a problem for many people because some students may be sick for a very long time but they’re unable to get a justification from the doctor within the allowed period. Some people may also have psychological problems, which makes it very difficult for them to justify their absence. I think this concerns quite a few people, and that this issue should be addressed. Or, at the very least, we should make the absence policy clearer for students to understand why and when/how they should obtain their justification.

6. What is one challenge you foresee yourself facing as Year Rep, and how will you overcome it?

Any: For me, the most urgent challenge would probably be my proficiency in French, especially when dealing with the French administration… But I think I need to be more patient with this. Also, I think there’s a lack of interaction with some people who sign up for classes in French because they’re not in any of our classes and we don’t meet them a lot. Another issue would be the flow of information, but as long as we have Facebook pages and groups, I think this problem can be solved.

Joaquin: I think one challenge would be facing the worry of not getting what I want after voicing concerns to the school administration. To overcome this, we would need to find compromises with the administration to allow things to be improved. I think the administration is concerned with our welfare, and I would like to thank them for that because I know it’s not the same in all places. This is needed for us to make it possible for ideas to be implemented. For me, another way to overcome these challenges is to draw on my experience of being a class representative in high school to implement a recycling network. I’ve said that our school needs to be more ecological and that we need to recycle, and I managed to implement a system of recycling when I was in high school… I have experience implementing ideas that might seem complicated initially, but turn out to be achievable after good organisation and a huge willingness to see them through.

Zhenhao: My challenge is probably speaking in front of a big crowd because I’m not very used to this, and would prefer talking privately to people. But I think this may be an advantage as well, because talking to people privately could help me solve problems directly as a Year Rep. To overcome this, maybe I can attend more MUNs (which I’ve just done!) to practice my public speaking skills. The speech that I need to deliver on Monday is limited to 1.5 minutes, which is exactly the same amount of time for General Speakers’ List speeches during MUN! So I think I’ve definitely taken LHIMUN 2019 as an opportunity to train my public speaking skills.

Remember to cast your votes for your Year Representative on Thursday. After all, if our P.I. classes have taught us anything, it’s that voting is a right that ought to be exercised!

(For more information on each candidate’s campaign, do head to the following links: Any, Joaquin, and Zhenhao.)

The New Dragon’s Summer Reads

Get to know your editors and what they’ve been reading this summer

photo by Marcus Cheah (@marcuscheah)

As the autumn semester approaches, and summer draws to a close, many students from the Le Havre campus are indulging themselves in some holiday reading. Perhaps you have made a start on the Sciences Po summer reading list, perhaps you have been reading to own tastes, or perhaps not at all. Regardless, the four new editors at Le Dragon Déchaîné thought it would be an opportune moment to introduce ourselves, and tell you what we’ve been reading this summer.

Leesa Ko

An American second year student and one of the new editors- in- chief for the radio section, Leesa joined LDD last year after writing a short piece on her solo travels and producing a music podcast with one of last year’s editors and infamous party animals, Pierre Bucaille. Between her perhaps excessive load of extracurriculars, Leesa can probably be found on campus asking too many questions, laughing obnoxiously, or caressing her new tattoo whom she’s affectionately named Noelia. She’s been reading…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“History has failed us, but no matter.”

The opening line of Pachinko reflects the devastating impact and raw honesty of the novel, a multigenerational story of a Korean family during and after the 35-year forced Japanese occupation of the peninsula. The story follows the Baek family as they incessentally fight to overcome in a time and place where the odds were in favor of achieving anything but.

For me, Pachinko brought me closer to my roots as I gained a keener awareness and empathy of the unimaginable hardships that my own family was forced to confront during the occupation, as well as the ongoing challenges they continue to face as a result of this period. Nonetheless, this book discusses universal themes such as family, identity and discrimination, within a historical context that is underrepresented in English-language literature.

Author Min Jin Lee skillfully strikes a balance between crafting a calculated account of a winding historical saga while avoiding the often drawn out descriptions common to such writings, and creating a humanising intimacy in the development of such vivid and complex characters. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to her having spent 30 years on the book, but it’s evident that Lee has achieved a literary feat with her literary triumph, Pachinko, which was a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award for fiction.

Philippe Andreas Bédos

Philippe is from Oslo, Norway and one of the new editors-in-chief for radio at Le Dragon. He majors in Politics & Government and is studying Chinese. He is also the P.R. Manager of the Bureau Des Élèves and an avid sportsman, part of the campus football, rugby and karate clubs. He enjoys listening to bossa nova music and quoting philosophers he has actually never read. You will often hear him using directly translated Norwegian expressions such as: “Goodbye on the bathroom, you old chocolate!” , or “I had my beard in the mailbox”. He’s been reading…

Au Revoir Là-Haut (The Great Swindle) by Pierre Lemaitre

The fate of two French soldiers, Édouard Péricourt and Albert Maillard, is decided in the final moments of World War I, as their ranking officer, Henri D’Aulnay Pradelle launches a daring offensive to ensure his social ascension once the fighting ends. After saving Albert’s life, Édouard is in turn saved by Albert. When Édouard later wakes up in the hospital, he discovers his jaw has been torn off by a shell blast.

The sad and beautiful story of Maillard and Péricourt’s friendship is a true adventure through post-war French society. Rich with humour, it centers on a plan to fool the whole country into buying fake monuments to the dead and fleeing as well as the scandal of Pradelle’s mix-up of thousands of entombed soldiers.

Pierre Lemaître draws you 100 years back in time to a society that has since profoundly changed, yet the characters and their aspirations are uncannily familiar. The story is bitter yet compelling and filled with historical detail.

The novel explores the strong social codification and stratification of the time, via investigations of Édouard’s family’s relations; focusing notably on the complex relationship with his father, who realises all too late he truly loved his son, a particularly endearing character. As he realizes what has become of his once delicate face, Edouard convinces Albert to provide him with a new identity and hides his disfigurement by making beautiful and oniric masks of all kinds, filled with color and imagination. He meets his misfortune with irony and flamboyance.

The book won Lemaître the 2013 edition of the Prix Goncourt.

You can also find the movie adaptation in theatres now. (93 % on Rotten Tomatoes / 7,6/10 on IMDb)

Maya Shenoy

Maya is an American second year student and is one of the new editors-in-chief for the print section at Le Dragon. She majors in Political Humanities and is also co-captain of LBGTQ club and Quizbowl. You will most likely catch her off campus, in the Bibliothèque Niemeyer or Columbus Café, laughing at her own jokes as subtly as possible. She’s been reading…

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This book had been sitting on my shelf since I half-started it at sixteen. After having been recommended to me by a dear teacher from high school, I had left it untouched. My teacher had called the story, centered on the fraternity and perseverance of the American coxed-eight rowing team (largely from rural Washington State) in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, nothing short of “life-changing.”

With some time on my hands (and the promise of transformational content), I was able to dive back into the book over May and June. The book found me at an opportune moment – uninspired and seeking purpose. I found myself instantly taken by the story of protagonist Joe Rantz, his turbulent childhood and mandated independence (after having been told to fend for himself by a complicated stepmother), and his unshaking determination to the sport, bettering his life, family, and his wife, Joyce. The camaraderie with the diverse group of men in the boat, whilst it had been the advertised selling point, was for me only the second most compelling part of the story.

While Brown paints an intimate portrait of the team he, curiously, weaves in quotes by the famed shellmaker George Yeoman Pocock (who fashioned their boat on his campus workshop). Initially, the reflections of Pocock that open every chapter seemed superfluous to the story (though no less interesting). But it was these reflections, on character, on teamwork, and on grit that stuck with me the most. Brown elegantly and subtly shows us, with the near-spiritual reflections of Pocock then embodied by the actions of this boat of men, the importance of a strong network – a strong team – and sheer determination in sport and life.

The language is clear and concise, Brown does not delve into meta-analysis to feign significance. Instead, the grandness of the sheer facts and the poignancy of Pocock’s thoughts propel the book (more accurately, the story or events) into a Chariots of Fire-caliber tale of extraordinary people, courage, and drive.

Pailey Wang

Pailey is an Australian second year student, and is one of the new editors-in-chief for print at Le Dragon. He majors in Politics and Government, and is also the incumbent Public Relations Officer of the Bureau des Arts. You will often find him wandering the halls of campus, looking for someone to go to Resto-U with. He’s been reading…

Fifty Years of Constitutional Evolution in France: The 2008 Amendments and Beyond by Martin Rogoff

Some students seem to adjust to the rhythm of undergraduate studies better than others; finding a sensible balance between university work and leisure, which among other things, includes the type of wide and explorative reading one should indulge themselves in during these still formative years. I seemingly was not one of those students, the only image the words ‘work / life balance’ conjure up for me is the ability to make it to the lecture hall. So, when my delightful co-editors decided on an ‘exciting’ book review for our first piece of the new semester, my reaction was somewhat muted. In spite of this, I am not one to let down the team, so here-in you will find my review of the first thirteen pages of ‘Fifty Years of Constitutional Evolution in France: The 2008 Amendments and Beyond’ by Martin A. Rogoff, the shortest of the readings that I will have to do reasonably soon anyway for my constitutional law lecture.

It is approaching twenty minutes since I started reading, and I haven’t made it through the one-page abstract. I feel like Professor Rogoff is trying to explain a nuanced and important concept, which I have thus far completely failed to comprehend. His picture, attached to his page on the Maine University of Law directory, has not helped me. His gaze penetrates me with seething disappointment.

Reaching the beginning of the introduction on the second page, I find myself thoroughly impressed by the extent of the footnoting, three quarters of the page at least. I breeze through the three lines of body on said page, and I feel as though I am making great strides.

The third page reads as easily as the second, the extensive footnoting has helped me once again. Though it slightly worries me when my mate prof. Rogoff tells me to ‘see’, among other things, a ‘short collection of essays’; my gut tells me that the word ‘short’ is being used liberally. I much prefer Rogoff’s footnotes which, correctly, assume my general ignorance of modern French history and chime in little helpful tidbits. Wishing I knew more about Algeria, I suddenly make the dire realisation that I have only made it to page 5. My initial delight at the length of the footnotes was misplaced, our good friend Rogoff is jamming more and more background information in, and I feel decieved by the smaller type.

Many thoughts went through my mind over the next few pages, few were about constitutional law. They mostly revolved around Charles de Gaulle and all the things I would rather be doing. After considerable effort, and altogether too much time, I did eventually finish. Highlights: I feel like I increased the flow of blood to my brain for the first time in a while. Low points: See Rogoff, M. (2011). Fifty Years of Constitutional Evolution in France: The 2008 Amendments and Beyond. SSRN Electronic Journal, pp.1-13.