Jacques Barzun Award 2018 Honoree

Jacques Barzun Award 2018 Honoree

The Jérôme Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation is pleased to confer the 2018 Jacques Barzun Award on Merit E. Janow, Dean, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Professor of Professional Practice in International Economic Law and International Affairs at Columbia University. Read her bio here.

Meet the 2017-2018 Lohez Foundation Scholarship Recipients

Meet the 2017-2018 Lohez Foundation Scholarship Recipients

Haicheng WangHaicheng Wang
(Sciences Po / Fudan University)

“My curiosity for new arenas always leads to discovering various experiences, identities and responsibilities, during which I enjoy collisions in thoughts and exploration of diverse cultural values,” reflected Lohez 2017-18 Scholar Haicheng Wang, a student of the dual-degree master’s program between Sciences Po and Fudan University.

Between 2012 and 2016, Haicheng studied international politics in Fudan University. Inspired by a comparative perspective of European studies and Chinese diplomacy, he then chose to pursue the master’s program between Sciences Po and Fudan with one year each in France and China.

Not only has Haicheng held various student leadership positions, but he has completed prestigious internships as well. He went to Yale University for exchange during his undergraduate studies. He led the department serving international students in the student union of Fudan University. In addition, Haicheng completed an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce, where he worked in asset management.   He also worked in risk consultancy as he interned at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a pan-European think tank. Haicheng’s desire to help others led him to visit Cambodia in order to volunteer in a local community. While his past explorations aided him in learning and adapting to new cultures, Haicheng’s current endeavors continue to shape his values and his journey to self-discovery. Reflecting on his studies in Paris, he noted that the experience surpassed his expectations. Haicheng observes, “The program offered me an excellent opportunity to explore Europe as a foreigner and rediscover my homeland of China. Learning about the people of other cultures encourages dialogue and mutual understanding.”

Riccardo Cersosimo
(Sciences Po / Fudan University)

Between 2011 and 2014, Riccardo Cersosimo of Italy studied International Business Administration at Tilburg University (School of Economics and Management) in the Netherlands, as well as at Peking University (Guanghua School of Management), Beijing. After graduating with distinction, he devoted a year to learning Mandarin Chinese at Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, on a scholarship granted by the Chinese Government. Recalling his experience in Beijing, Riccardo notes that he “nurtured his passion for languages and discovered how the world of communication is changing through the digitalization of the society, particularly in the Chinese context.”

Aspiring to discover a new culture and language while maintaining his bond with China, Riccardo entered the Dual Degree program at the School of Management and Innovation at Sciences Po in France and the School of Journalism at Fudan University in China, from which he will graduate in June 2018. Between the first and second years of his master’s program, Riccardo took another gap year to gain some valuable work experience through two internships. After winning the Sciences Po edition of the Brandstorm competition organized by the L’Oréal Group, Riccardo interned for the Marketing Development department of Lancôme (L’Oréal). He also completed an internship at the Digital Communications department of Guerlain (LVMH).

Riccardo notes, “Through both my first and second internships, I have had the chance to apply the theoretical knowledge stemming from both my undergraduate and graduate studies to a fascinating, dynamic and creative industry.”

He currently serves as one of the 15 Italian citizens holding the Chinese Government Scholarship for the Academic Year 2017-2018. Aside from attending classes at Fudan University, he interns at the Chinese branch of Guerlain.

Ricardo reflects, “Pursuing my academic achievements and eye-opening work experiences abroad in both China and Europe have equipped me with the adaptability and global vision necessary to tackle the globalized world and immerse myself in new opportunities where my creative strengths can align with my ambition to make an impact on the marketing and communication industry.”


Yi Da Jeremy Ng
(Sciences Po / Columbia University)

Lohez scholar Yi Da Jeremy Ng from Singapore currently studies in the Dual BA Program between Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris (Campus du Havre).

“College, for me, served as a time to explore new interests,” reflects Jeremy. “Having studied politics and social sciences at Sciences Po, I decided to take a more quantitative approach to my studies at Columbia, and am now majoring in information science.”

His desire to chart new waters also led Jeremy to undertake internships in France, China, Singapore, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, working in sectors such as finance and international development. As a result of his work experience, he developed a strong desire to leverage private capital to finance projects in the developing world, particularly in under-served areas such as Central Asia.

“My career goals are definitely a function of my previous internship experiences,” observes Jeremy. “I spent a summer working for the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia in Tajikistan, where I helped to design and implement social protection and civil society projects. This was really meaningful work, as I could see from site visits how our projects had improved the lives of vulnerable communities such as people living with HIV, or victims of gender-based violence.”

Jeremy, however, remains keenly aware of the challenges faced by development agencies today. “One problem we kept encountering in Tajikistan was the lack of funding from governments and international donors. This is where my experience in the private sector proved enlightening. My internship at Bridgewater Associates showed me the immense potential of private capital, which I hope to ultimately deploy to more socially beneficial ends.”

Côme Lefébure
(Sciences Po / Columbia University)

Côme Lefébure believes that solving conflicts requires an understanding of others.   His experiences in China, France, and the United States fostered his belief concerning the necessity of tolerance. His desire to become a peace-maker of tomorrow brought him first to Sciences Po’s Europe-Asia campus in Le Havre and now to Columbia University.

At Sciences Po, he served as the treasurer of the Sports club. In addition, he became the captain of both the soccer team and the swimming team. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Côme aspires to serve at France’s Foreign Affairs and work with China, a country where he spent his childhood and accomplished his first professional internships.

Côme’s attributes his status as a global citizen to his French and Italian heritage. As a global citizen, Côme feels empowered by cooperation amongst diverse people groups. He believes in the power of cultural and educational exchanges for shaping a peaceful world. Moreover, he feels honored to join the Jérôme Lohez 9/11 Foundation and its cohort of inspiring ambassadors from all over the world. Côme strives to promote dialogue and joint actions across France, China, and the United States.


Raphael Presberg
(EPITA / Stevens Institute of Technology)

After two years of intensive training in physics and mathematics, Raphael completed two years of multidisciplinary engineering formation in computer science, energy and systems, signal and networks, and electronics. He then completed one year of specialization in computer science engineering & Big Data. Raphael has applied to the Masters of Science in Information System at Stevens Institute of Technology to fulfill his interest in both the technological and strategic aspects of data analysis and data science.

After his first international experience in Tel Aviv University, where he studied 6 months for a spring semester in electrical engineering, he sought a new opportunity abroad in New York. Concerning his move to New York, Raphael explained that he desired “to discover the American way of life, visit the wonderful city and live new experiences.” Moreover, he strives to improve his English and attain his C2 level goal.

Last summer, he worked as a data analyst at Schneider Electric. Upon completion of his Masters of Science at Stevens, he will seek new opportunities in data analysis and data science in American technology companies to develop his technical skills in an optimal environment.


Pierre Savary: Scholar-Communicator with a Diplomatic Edge

Pierre Savary: Scholar-Communicator with a Diplomatic Edge

Pierre Savary“To me, America is in essence the land of courage,” said Pierre Savary, a 2015-2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar. “American bravery 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. The American spirit of coexistence that he discovered in California became of particular significance to him, inciting him to come again to the United States.

The theme of coexistence is one for which Pierre has developed a great interest – indeed, even a degree of passion.

“This is why I went to UC Berkeley and studied in SIPA’s International Security Concentration,” he said, “to learn more about terrorism and understand better why some people of my age, sometimes even younger than me, choose the path to violence. I am involved in interfaith dialogue activities because I believe this is a very powerful and efficient way to fight extremism.”

While completing his dual degree at Columbia University, Pierre served as a communications intern at the Consulate General of France in New York City. There, he assisted in drafting 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 help protect tourism sites in Paris and everywhere, but also religious places, which is very important to me: churches and synagogues, but also mosques.”

Pierre’s current position is as an intern at the French Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

“My position in Amman involves working with attachés who directly provide advice to the French Ambassador,” said Pierre. “I write memos and reports on many various aspects of the life in Jordan and of the Jordanian people, from politics to social issues.”

Pierre’s next possible career plan is to take the Foreign Affairs service exam, or to look directly for a position as a junior counsellor in a French Embassy in the Middle East or the Northern Hemisphere. Another career plan would be to go back to Paris and serve at the Direction of the Americas, or the Middle East, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I truly believe that choosing the side of religious and cultural tolerance requires greater courage than choosing the side of hatred,” Pierre concluded. “I have chosen mine, and this is why I have developed such a great affection for a city that amply represents those core values: New York City, in the United States of America.”

– Patrick A. Berzinski, Tranquility49 PR

Remarks from Lohez 9/11 Foundation Scholars, May 12, 2016

Remarks from Lohez 9/11 Foundation Scholars, May 12, 2016


During the second half of the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Annual Awards Event, held May 12, 2016, at the French Consulate in NYC, Columbia University Alliance Director Alessia Lefubure Lo Porto introduced Ms. Juliette Faure, a 2015 Lohez Scholar. Juliette presented 2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar Rébecca Assouline-Béra, who has pursued a dual degree between Sciences Po and Columbia University’s School of General Studies.

Ms. Faure pursued a dual degree between Sciences Po and Columbia University SIPA. She is currently Assistant Director for Sovereign and Government Fund Relations at the Sovereign Investor Institute at Institutional Investor in New York.

Emcee Carla Virola next introduced Lohez Foundation Board Member Ms. Emily Wexler, who spoke briefly about 2016 Lohez Scholar Etienne Marié, who has pursued a dual degree between EPITA and Stevens Institute of Technology. Etienne was not able to attend the evening in NYC as he was attending a family wedding in France.

A professional engineer, Ms. Wexler is currently a Development Consultant in association with Tranquility49 LLC, with past associations at Baruch College, AllianceBernstein and – most important – Stevens Institute of Technology, where she earned a master’s degree in Technology Management and Project Management.

Ms. Virola then introduced Dr. James Parenti, Senior Associate Dean at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, who presented 2016 Lohez Foundation Scholar Pierre Savary, who has pursued a dual degree between Sciences Po and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia.

Next Ms. Virola introduced Lohez Foundation Board Member Ms. Ellie de Abdi, who introduce the Foundation’s Guest of Honor, photographer, videographer and educator, Mr. Thomas E. Franklin, who received the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Distinguished American Spirit Award.

Ms. de Abdi is a doctoral researcher and a former gymnast and coach, currently a physical, health and dance education teacher and Professional Development Coordinator for the Department of Health and Physical Education, in addition to being a research and teacher leader, for an urban district in New Jersey. She is also a Clinical Faculty member in the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University.

Ms. Virola then announced “with that our Annual Celebration and Awards Ceremony draws to a close. Ms. Lohez has provided me a list of guests and supporters that she would like to thank, including…

“Ms. Léa Futschik, Higher Education Attaché, Executive Director, Partner University Fund of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Mr. Allan Chapin, Chairman of the French-American Foundation
Mr. John Bennett, President of the Paris America Club
Dr. Joel Courtois, Director of EPITA, Paris
Dean Gregory Prastacos, School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology
Dean Merit Janow, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
Senior Associate Dean James Parenti, SIPA
Associate Dean Cory Way, SIPA
Assistant Vice President Dawn da Silva, and the Stevens Office of Development
Dr. Alessia Lefebure Lo Porto, Director of the Alliance, Columbia University
Ms. Helene Sostarich Barsamian, Director of Development, College of the Arts, School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University
Ms. Sharen Glennon, Senior Associate, Tranquility49 PR
Mr. Patrick A. Berzinski, CEO, Tranquility49 PR
The Tranquility49 PR Video Crew
Mr. Kevin Berry, a Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party Organization
Ms. Maria Martini Cordonnier, President of the Little Falls, N.J., Democratic Club
Ms. Amandine Tristani, Pace University Graduate and Digital Communications Volunteer at Control Arms, for her volunteer service at the registration table during tonight’s event.

“Ms. Lohez wishes to extend special thanks to Select Auto Services of New Jersey for their generous donation of fine wines for the enjoyment of our guests,” said Ms. Virola, in conclusion. “Also – many thanks to Ms. Yu-chen Juang and Mr. Brian T. Kelly, CPA for donating the selection of delicious desserts.”


Remarks from Lohez 9/11 Foundation Awards Event, May 12, 2016

Remarks from Lohez 9/11 Foundation Awards Event, May 12, 2016


At the Lohez 9/11 Foundation Annual Awards Event, held May 12, 2016, at the French Consulate in NYC, Consul General Deputy Mr. Bernard Faro made opening remarks citing the work of the Lohez Foundation.

Emcee Carla Virola then introduced the program, calling it “an exciting evening for the Lohez Foundation. Not only is the Foundation awarding scholarships to a new class of five international students. We have on hand a scholar who could not be with us in person last year, but who spoke to us then via video greeting,” Mr. Soliman Elcheikh.

Ms. Virola then introduced “the Founder of the Lohez 9/11 Scholarship Foundation, a global citizen who is an educator in her own right, Ms. Dening Wu Lohez.”

Ms. Alessia Lefebure Lo Porto, “a strong friend and ally of the Lohez 9/11 Foundation,” followed. Lefebure Lo Porto is the Director of The Alliance, which comprises Columbia University in the US, in partnership with programs at four major French universities. The Alliance is an endowed international joint-initiative, whose aim is to foster innovation and circulation of ideas in Higher Education and Research, with a strong interdisciplinary focus.

Ms. Lefebure Lo Porto then introduced Ms. Juliette Faure, a 2015 Lohez Scholar.

Soliman Elcheikh: International Young Leader in the Making

Soliman Elcheikh: International Young Leader in the Making

Soliman-fullSoliman 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

Thomas E. Franklin, May 12, 2016

Thomas E. Franklin, May 12, 2016

On May 12, 2016, photographer Thomas E. Franklin accepted the Lohez 9/11 Foundation’s Distinguished American Spirit Award during the annual Lohez Awards festivities at the French Consulate General in New York City. These are Mr. Franklin’s full remarks.


Camille Andrieu Awarded the 2016 Claude Erignac Prize

Camille Andrieu Awarded the 2016 Claude Erignac Prize

Camille AndrieuCamille 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: An Aryeh Neier Fellow Focused on International Human Rights

Roxane Cassehgari: An Aryeh Neier Fellow Focused on International Human Rights

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

Hélène Franchineau: International Multimedia Journalist without Borders

Hélène Franchineau: International Multimedia Journalist without Borders

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.Helene-in-NK 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

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