April 29, 2014

WICE Volunteers: Spotlight on Jill Bourdais

For the WICE Blog’s Up Close and Personal series, long term Member and Volunteer, Jill Bourdais, discusses the origins of WICE and shares her experiences  as the organization has evolved over the years.

Jill receiving flowers at a Gala from Carol Allen, a former WICE President.
Originally, WICE was formed in the late 1970’s with a mission of expanding career opportunities for women.  As the women’s rights movement made strides and gains in the US, many of the English speaking women in Paris were trailing spouses, who remained isolated from these progressive changes.   WICE grew out of this need for women in Paris to join the battle for equal rights and to learn the steps and tools that they needed to get into the work force.

A WICE member painted the mural pictured 
in the former WICE Office's inner courtyard
Before today’s conveniences of the internet, home computers and printers, and smart phones, WICE offered a goldmine of career information and support for its members.   Women could easily go to the WICE office with its resource center and learn resume writing, interviewing skills, French, getting working papers, job hunting, and other skills such as starting a business.  Jill began volunteering for WICE during these early years because she really wanted to help other women learn what they needed to improve their lives in Paris.

Over the years, WICE’s purpose and mission gradually changed.  As WICE grew more successful, culture-based courses, such as Art History, French History, and Creative Writing, were added to the career-based curriculum.   As these courses grew in popularity, WICE opened up to men and began to serve the entire Anglophone expat community in Paris.    Simultaneously, the world changed too.  With the proliferation of personal computers and widespread internet access, it was no longer necessary for people to seek out a resource center for information.   Information that had been previously difficult to obtain, now became available at a click of the mouse.   As it also became easier for women to find jobs and pursue their careers, WICE’s focus on career development for women was no longer a priority.
Today, WICE’s mission has evolved to providing cultural education and social events to its members.

April 7, 2014

Adventures of the Place de la Concorde Obelisk

The Luxor Obelisk at Place de la Concorde
You can't miss it. The Luxor obelisk rises 75 feet from the center of the Place de la Concorde in Paris, taller than anything in the neighborhood.
I have passed this gold-tipped monolith a thousand times, on its little island in the middle of frenzied Paris traffic.
I noted it as one of those odd Paris monuments—a bit discordant with its surroundings, but somehow fitting in—like the Louvre Pyramid; the too colorful, externally piped Pompidou Center; and the mother of them all, the Eiffel Tower.
Though I formed fleeting impressions of the obelisk, I never really stopped or studied. Just how did a 250-ton piece of granite make its way to Paris using the tools available in the early 19th century?
The story unfolds like an epic adventure film. Read on ...

Story by Meredith Mullins with permission of OIC Moments.