“To me, America is in essence the land of willpower,” said Pierre Savary, a 2015-2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar. “This is made visible by symbols such as the Freedom Tower, built in the aftermath of the biggest terrorist attack in US history, where the Twin Towers once represented New York, and it is now the highest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.”
During his undergraduate years at Sciences Po in Paris, Pierre had already had the opportunity to study in the United States, spending a year abroad at the University of California-Berkeley. There he studied in the Departments of Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. “I went to UC Berkeley and studied in SIPA’s International Security Concentration,” he said, “to learn more about terrorism from an academic perspective and understand better why some people of my age, sometimes even younger than me, choose the path to violence. In France I got involved in interfaith dialogue activities as a way to promote French society’s cohesion.”
At UC Berkeley, Pierre also discovered California’s culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, where hard work combined to enthusiasm and a vision for the future makes everything possible. “In California I witnessed a sense of faith in the future that today’s Western societies often lack. I understood that fighting extremism is useless without an alternative vision for the world we want to live in, a vision that appeals to all and everyone.”
While completing his dual degree in International Security at Columbia University, Pierre served as an intern at the Consulate General of France in New York City. There, he drafted speeches and other official communications for Consul General Bertrand Lortholary and other diplomatic personnel. It was a position that afforded him special insight into the workings of a diplomatic outpost immersed in the day-to-day issues of foreign relations.
After graduation, Pierre spent several weeks training in a military camp in Southern France to become a Reserve soldier in the French Army. “As a reserve soldier,” he said, “I will protect tourism sites, but also religious places: churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Pierre describes himself as very attached to the French concept of laïcité, which ensures that the State treats fairly and equally protects all citizens regardless of their beliefs and religion, and opposes the politicization of religious identities. To him, laïcité is a necessary component of the Republican ideal that he wishes to serve through his professional life. “Promoting French society’s unity”, he said, “implies tackling the spread of all perilous ideologies and communitarianism, as well as the rampant inequalities that weaken our social fabric. Social justice is another major component of the Republican and French ideals I believe in.”
Pierre also worked for a while at the French Embassy in Amman, Jordan. Back in Paris, his path also led him briefly to the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
In 2019, Pierre was accepted to the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, a grand school training future senior civil servants, which churned out presidents, ambassadors and industry leaders for decades.