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In Solidarity with the French

In Solidarity with the French

Members of the Keene State community added their voices and words of support and solidarity to those around the world by signing a signature book to honor and commemorate the people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in Paris. The book was forwarded to the French Consulate in Boston.

Professor of Modern Languages Tom Durnford said the idea for the book came from Keene State French majors and members of the College’s French Club. “The French Club is going to Montreal this weekend, but before leaving they thought it would be a nice gesture from Keene State to send a signature book to the consulate in Boston to show our solidarity with the French after the terrorist attacks in Paris,” he said. The book was available for signing at the Student Center Thursday (Nov. 19) afternoon.

One of the first to sign was Valentine Gouy, a visiting exchange student from Université Catholique de Lille in France, who is spending the semester at Keene State. Gouy, who is from Lille and has a sister who lives in Paris, was relieved to learn that none of her family members were hurt in the attack. Still, she said, “It’s hard to be so far away. I will just have to be with them with my thoughts and my heart.”

Gouy said she was visiting a friend in Toronto the night of the attacks. “At first, we didn’t realize what had happened, but in 10 minutes we received so many messages,” she said. “I called everyone back home to make sure that my family and friends were all right. I’m lucky that everyone is OK, but you feel so guilty to be safe. It could’ve been me or my friends who were killed at the restaurant. I was there about five times last year and one of my friends used to eat at the restaurant which was attacked.”

Imogen Sutherland, a friend of Gouy’s and an exchange student from York St. John University in England, was next to sign the book. “I have family in France, and geographically the two countries are so close,” said Sutherland, who is from Derby, England. “We represent our country when we are here, so I understand and support Valentine and her family.”

Patrick McGee, a senior from Manchester, NH, and a member of the French Club, said the response to the signature book was very positive. “I’ve only been here for a few minutes and I already have a lot of signatures,” said McGee, who was staffing the table at the Student Center. “The attacks happened so far away, but it’s a nice way for Keene State students to let the people of France know that they are thinking of them.”

Durnford, who has been to France on numerous occasions and lived there for a time, recognized one of the places in Paris where the attacks occurred. “The area that was hit is a place where I usually stay when I am in Paris,” he said. “It really hits close to home.”

The associate director of the Global Education Office at Keene State, Steven Spiegel, said he has reached out to current exchange students like Gouy and Sutherland to offer help and also contacted partner school Université Catholique de Lille to inquire about the safety of previous students who have come to Keene State.

Several students and faculty members shared their thoughts about the tragedy. “My heart goes out to the people,” said Professor of Education Tom Bassarear after signing the book. “I think it’s important to have people all over the world unite in their compassion.”

“I was much younger when 9/11 happened, so I was able understand it more at this age,” said Katlynn Jepson, a sophomore psychology/criminal justice major from Manchester, NH. “It’s hard to realize that there are people out there who do this type of thing. It’s heartbreaking.”

No one could feel the pain and suffering of the French people more than Gouy, who wrote in the book: “All my thoughts go out to my country. I believe in France. We will survive and we will fight so something like this never happens again.”

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