A French student from the Stevens-EPITA Dual Degree Program just made the very generous and anonymous donation of $9,000 to the 9/11 Scholarship Fund. In these very unsettling times of the COVID-19 virus, forcing us to cancel our annual gala, this gift renews our faith in the human spirit, going to the core of of the foundation’s mission.
“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.
Soliman Elcheikh is currently a dual-degree undergraduate at Columbia University. Though he arrived for the first time in the United States from France in September 2015, he had read a lot about the country in books and daily newspapers, and he was curious and excited to see what was in store upon his arrival. In residence at Columbia, he wanted to experience life in the territory beyond New York City, spending most of his last winter break exploring more of the East Coast. He plans to travel through the Midwest and to the West Coast next summer.
Soliman also finds that his courses at Columbia help him to understand better the internal and external dynamics of the United States. “My experience here in the United States helps me to grow every day and learn from my environment,” he says.
As a boy and young adult, Soliman grew up experiencing multiple cultures. He was raised in Egypt, and attended French-language schools during his childhood. His education in Egypt prepared him for his undergraduate years attending Sciences Po in France.
No matter how culturally diverse Soliman’s background is, he believes that nothing can really prepare anyone for the melting pot that is New York City. He calls it a “microcosm of the world,” where you experience interaction between and among every culture on a daily basis, where different communities can peacefully live together. “There is without a doubt a lot to learn from this experience,” he says.
He is also overwhelmed by the beauty of the city, most notably the Manhattan skyline as seen from Brooklyn.
Recently, while crossing the Williamsburg Bridge back to Manhattan, he observed the sunset, “and the magnificent rays of light were speaking everywhere. I watched with an unwavering gaze as the threads of light were dyeing all the tall buildings first orange, then red, and later dark blue. When night had taken over,” he says, “all building lights were sparkling like infinite stars in the sky. It was an extremely poetic moment that I will never forget.”
Having studied in France, Soliman notices an interesting contrast between the academic structures of France and the United States. First, he noticed that in France the coursework is lighter, yet more intellectually demanding, asserting that “originality and critical thinking are two basic skills that you would naturally develop.” He finds the teaching in the United States to be more pragmatic. While there is always room for discussion and debate, he finds the assignments to be skills-oriented, requiring less “out-of-the-box” thinking. “These two approaches are complementary,” he explains, “and you need both to be successful.”
While Soliman has a broad global perspective from traveling and previously studying in France, he finds that it’s important that there are students with many different perspectives in his classes.
“A global perspective is not always the right one, and we sometimes need to listen to someone with a very local background. I personally believe,” he says “that each and every one in the classroom has a positive contribution to make, and they do not need to have a global background. In the midst of a globalized world, listening to others is a must, and challenging one’s opinions and beliefs is the only way to grow and move forward.”
After spending six months in New York, Soliman says that the city definitely feels like a future home to him. He loves the diversity, and the fact that “you can almost feel the pulse of the world” in New York. He still wants to travel and to discover new cultures, but he already feels completely at home in New York City.
As for a future career, he’s still deciding. He has future plans for some internships, and has explored several fields over the last few years, helping him more clearly define some of his goals.
“Now I know that I want to do something innovative, I want to have an impact on people’s lives and be useful to the community,” says Soliman. “I had the chance of living an international experience and studying at top universities. This puts a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders, and I am determined to achieve great things.”
– Julie Roccanova, Tranquility49 PR
Camille Andrieu, a 2014 Jerome Lohez 9/11 Foundation Scholar, has received the 2016 Claude Erignac Prize for her project, SoMaire. Camille was presented with the award, which carries a value of up to 8,000 euros, by Gérard Larcher, the president of the Senate of France, at a special ceremony in Paris last month.
Since 2001, the annual prize, awarded by Sciences Po in partnership with the Claude Erignac Association, has been given to a Sciences Po student whose project conveys humanitarian values and aims to enhance democratic life in France and beyond. The Claude Erignac Association was formed following the murder of French Préfet Claude Erignac in 1998.
“I was delighted and excited to find out I was the Claude Erignac Association’s 2016 recipient and that the jury wanted to support SoMaire’s potential social and public impact,” said Camille. “It felt great to receive compliments from external stakeholders.”
SoMaire aims to become the first professional collaborative platform for French mayors in rural municipalities. The project grew out of Camille’s first-hand observation of rural French territories, which make up 92% of France’s communal network and have limited resources. The state’s disengagement and lack of available digital resources have made it difficult for these territories to keep pace with the level of governance of urban cities. Their mayors usually perform their duties in addition to holding a primary full-time job in another profession. In addition, due to a reduction in state subventions, communal councils are often forced to reduce their staffing. As a result, these areas are exposed to issues they do not have the adequate expertise to deal with.
SoMaire’s platform will create a unique network of expertise among French mayors. They will gain privileged access to communal projects in France and will be able to exchange information and share best practices. The platform is being developed in partnership with the AMRF (French Organization of Rural Mayors), which includes 10,000 municipalities. A network of local and international ambassadors is now being formed as the project gets under way.
“The prize’s financial compensation has allowed me to dedicate more of my time to this project by raising awareness about the issues at stake, reaching out to relevant actors, handling the legal aspects and building the digital platform,” said Camille. “But perhaps most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to meet Claude Erignac’s family members, whom I respect a lot for their generosity and dedication.”
The project is built upon a vision of a renewed digital and participatory democracy. SoMarie’s next stage will open the project up to citizen consultation at local and international levels, enabling mayors and citizens to connect instantly on topics of interest.
Camille graduated in 2015 from the dual master’s degree program at Sciences Po and Fudan University, “Europe and Asia in Global Affairs.” She is also an accomplished athlete who was selected for the national French women’s basketball team. She is currently studying at HEC and Berkeley before she moves on to prepare for the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) exam, the highly competitive exam for those who want to study at ENA and prepare for a career in the French higher civil service.
– Stephanie Mannino, Tranquility49 PR
Roxane Cassehgari, a 2012 Lohez 9/11 Foundation Scholar, has been named an Aryeh Neier Fellow at the Open Society Justice Initiative, a program of the Open Society Foundations. This distinguished two-year fellowship provides practical work experience to expand the capacity of young lawyers and advocates working internationally on human rights issues.
Roxane is currently based in New York and is working alongside a team promoting criminal justice for grave violations of human rights.
“OSJI is one of the few places with a team of human rights lawyers focusing on a wide range of human rights issues, such as international justice for mass atrocities, ethnic discrimination and counter-terrorism,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to work on these issues while receiving the mentorship from experienced lawyers.” OSJI lawyers take part in advocacy, litigating before international tribunals and national courts, UN treaty bodies and regional human rights courts. They also work with civil societies to empower them to demand enforcement of human rights.
Roxane has a particular interest in working with migrants, specifically those affected by the various crises unfolding in Europe, Central America and in the Pacific (Malaysia). Her passion for this work has roots in her own family’s migrant story – her parents both immigrated to France as students, seeking a better future. Her father emigrated from Iran soon after the Islamic revolution, and her mother left Colombia, a country then ridden with violence.
Luckily, notes Roxane, her parents’ stories were not nearly as atrocious as the conditions faced by migrants who are now fleeing current ongoing conflicts. Her family’s story and current crises have inspired her to develop a project around this issue at OSJI.
“Thanks to the mentorship and through the various team projects,” she said. “I think I will be able to shape a career that will revolve around migrant issues, and hopefully set out an advocacy strategy encompassing all the legal tools I have learned throughout my career: international human rights law, international criminal justice and also transitional justice.”
Getting hands-on experience with different countries is something Roxane is most looking forward to.
“I am quite excited to have the opportunity to directly work with civil society organizations and receive their feedback on the intricacies related to the fight for human rights on the ground,” she said. “I hope to immerse myself in some country contexts, hopefully in Spanish- and French-speaking countries, to use my language skills, and to understand fully the complexities of each situation. Every country is different, and yet, each can learn from others’ experiences.”
During her two-year fellowship, Roxane will rotate to work with different teams. She anticipates traveling globally as part of her work, and notes that she’ll likely travel to The Hague for meetings related to the International Criminal Court.
The fellowship will also enable Roxane to focus on one of her priorities: being a fully-fledged professional in English, Spanish and French. She wants to work on issues related to different countries, gaining knowledge that will be useful in many different contexts. She hopes to draw lessons from this work that can be shared with other audiences. She also hopes to write blogs and articles and to participate in publications as part of her fellowship.
In her career as an international lawyer, Roxane hopes to develop partnerships with local organizations to help them take ownership of international human rights law and criminal law so they can address issues in their countries.
“I believe in strengthening the local civil society. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Rather, I want to listen to what people on the ground have to say,” she said.
Roxane is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, where she received a Master of Law degree and a Certificate in International Legal Studies.
After graduating from the Université, Roxane worked as an intern for the International Organization for Migration in Bogotá. Three months later, she was deployed by the organization to support the earthquake relief operation in Haiti. Her main duties consisted in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable individuals of the displaced population: women, children, the elderly and the disabled. She learned how a United Nations peacekeeping mission works and how key information is transmitted from the field to high decision-makers to help improve response on the ground.
Roxane studied human rights at Columbia University and received her LL.M. from Columbia Law School in 2013.
– Stephanie Mannino, Tranquility49 PR
A 2010 recipient of the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Scholarship, Hélène Franchineau is currently living an extraordinary life as a French journalist working in China. As part of her journey from Paris to Beijing, Hélène started learning Chinese at 15 years old, and after traveling to China alone at the age of 16, she knew that she wanted to work and live there one day.
While living in Shanghai in 2007, Hélène met a correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde, and she found that journalism was a beautiful fit for her, both in terms of her love of storytelling and her gift for photography.
Hélène then worked for Le Monde and Slate in Shanghai and Paris. She wrote news on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2009 Muslim minority riots in Xinjiang province, and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. In 2009 Hélène interned at The Washington Times foreign desk, where she covered policies on climate change.
Hélène completed her Master’s in International Affairs and Chinese Language and Culture at Sciences Po Bordeaux in 2006, joined the journalism program at Sciences Po Paris in 2008, and eventually enrolled in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2010. She currently finds herself working as the video and multimedia journalist for the Associated Press in Beijing.
Hélène believes that it takes a combination of many skills to take on the career that she has chosen. These include an early exposure to different cultures, learning new languages and keeping an open mind. Such skills come in handy when faced with more challenging assignments, the most challenging being breaking news assignments. Hélène finds breaking news to be the hardest to tackle, because it often requires her to travel to remote places at the last minute in unpredictable weather and uncomfortable conditions. And the Chinese authorities can always find ways to make things difficult for her.
However, the most challenging assignments oftentimes turn out to be the most satisfying.
Hélène says that her most rewarding journalism assignment involved following two Chinese migrant workers in 2013, during their journey home to the Henan province for the Chinese New Year. The migrants hadn’t been home in a year, leaving their young son behind with his grandparents, a “common phenomenon” in Chinese culture, according to Hélène. She found this story to be challenging, because it was the first assignment that she worked on completely alone; she did the research, logistics, filming and editing.
However, it was well worth the hard work.
“It was rewarding on so many levels,” Hélène says. “The fact that I learned I can do a complete multimedia story on my own; that I got so close to this family and immersed myself into their life; and seeing their happy faces, when, a few months later, I showed the couple the finished video and the newspaper article that were published in the South China Morning Post – it was priceless.”
Hélène foresees her next challenge to be broadening the subject matter of her work, including moving beyond the “China Story.” She sees her focus shifting more toward Europe and the Middle East, concentrating on “migrants, and the challenge they pose to Europe in terms of identity and integration.”
However, she will never fully let go of her work in China. “It is a combination of past experiences that have made me into what I am today, a foreign video journalist covering China,”Hélène explains. “But maybe tomorrow I’ll be gone somewhere else, and I’ll take the treasure trove of experiences I got in China, and use them in my next job.”
– Julie Roccanova, Tranquility49 PR
Videos and Media
BogotaPopUps was founded in January 2015 by Sara Lisa Ørstavik and Lohez Foundation 2011 Scholar Andrés Lizcano Rodriguez.
The two began experimenting with pop-up dinners as an unorthodox social experiment. However, their events soon took off, and six months later, they decided to scale up their project by building a platform for diverse dining experiences. To date, BogotaPopUps has provided 17 handcrafted dinner parties, brunches, cooking classes, and jazz evenings at locations across the city of Bogotá, Colombia, serving more than 200 dinner guests, from more than 30 nationalities, at its tables. The events strive to create experiences that match the feel of a dinner celebration with friends, fostering a broader humanitarian awareness and global consciousness that can be gained while discovering new ethnic food systems and cultures. The BogotaPopUp team is now working to create a network of trusted suppliers, who produce food in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Still under the age of 30, the BogotaPopUps co-founder Andrés Lizcano Rodriguez has led a very impressive young life. He attended college in his home country of Colombia at Los Andes University, where he studied mathematics with a minor in law, graduating with high honors.
During Andrés’s time at Los Andes, he spent a year abroad in Montpellier, where he co-founded the Montpellier Branch of an NGO called Foundacion YOCreo En Colombia. His goal was to prove to the outside world that Colombia was not just suffering from armed conflicts involving drug-trafficking and terrorism, but that it is also a country with a long and distinguished history, diverse cultural heritage, and immense economic potential.
As a Lohez Foundation Scholar, Andrés completed his studies in 2013 for a dual master’s degree in International Development between Sciences Po in Paris and Columbia University in New York, believing his experiences in both America and France helped prepare him to take the risks needed to effect real change in Colombian society.
After graduating, Andrés set his sights on achieving a career as a public intellectual and, eventually, on becoming Colombia’s official Ambassador to the United States and/or France.
Since graduating from Columbia University, Andrés has held a variety of positions. He served as a Columbia University Capstone Analyst for the Citi Institutional Clients Group, where he conducted research on legislation and international regulatory coordination and designed an analytic framework for Citibank’s incremental business.
He was also a World Affairs Editor at The Morningside Post, writing and editing articles for Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs’ newspaper. At around the same time, he was a teaching assistant for the graduate course, “Economic Development in Latin America,” at Columbia University. The following summer, after graduation, Andrés served as an Advisor at Think Impact in Ghana, where he facilitated the learning experience of international scholars working with the rural Ghanaian population, designing and implementing social enterprises, as well as planning and conducting training and workshops, and documenting the scholars’ progress throughout their journey.
Andrés returned to New York that autumn to work in Media and Communications at Reboot, defining and implementing a social-media strategy for the company, as well as conducting media monitoring in the fields of information and communications technology, open government, and institutional reform/public financial management.
Moving on from that position in February 2014, Andrés became an empowerment analyst at Univision Communications in Miami, Florida. There he created a new system to track workflow, and he designed an impact evaluation of the Empowerment Unit’s work.
He finally settled at a long-term position at the National Planning Department in Colombia in September 2014, where he is currently the Misión para la Transformación del Campo (advisor). Here he is responsible for the competitiveness strategy, which suggests guidelines for Colombia’s medium-term agricultural competitiveness policies and meets with policymakers, private- and non-profit sector leaders, and farmers in order to understand current policies and analyze long-term trends.
With this incredible resumé, Andrés has built BogotaPopUps from the ground up with his partner Sara. They and the rest of the BogotaPopUps team will soon be paying an exploratory visit to an organic farm, and will also be holding a two-day cooking class in – yes – a castle during a November weekend.
– By Julie Roccanova, Tranquility49 PR