Ava M. Gurekian

October 17, 2014

Chantilly: A Crossroads of Language, History, and Culture

As a dual citizen of France and the United States, with French family and a past of French language and culture classes including a semester abroad in Montpellier, France, I was excited to begin my internship at Chateau de Chantilly in Chantilly, France. Chantilly jumps straight out of a fairy tale and is home of the Conde Museum, the second largest French art collection in France next to The Louvre. Its vast collection of French and Italian art, illuminated manuscripts, and historic architecture attracts approximately a half a million tourists a year, allowing me to have had the opportunity to meet global tourists from places including my hometown in the US, other regions of France, Japan, Russia, Spain, China, the Netherlands, and more. After a week of studying the material and all of the Chateau’s art, I began to give several tours a week to large groups of Indian tourists, through the Thomas Cook travel agency and assisted in the general Chateau maintenance, room surveillance, and ticket-checking. Having met people from all over the world, some who did not comprehend either French or English, I faced many cultural and social barriers in my customer service work abroad in Chantilly. I found myself sometimes frustrated and not knowing how to respond. Regardless, the personnel at the Chateau were extremely helpful, understanding, and friendly and I improved my French immensely. All-in-all, I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to work abroad in Chantilly.