Six months before the Paris terrorist attacks, two groups of MCCC students visited the French capital.
Political Science professor Joanna Sabo led one of the groups of students, who stayed in Paris for 2 nights during an 18-day tour of Europe.
Sabo said it’s important that Americans continue to travel abroad.
“I heard a wonderful quote from a women in Detroit who was interviewed this morning and she said the minute we stop traveling because they’ve made us afraid, then they’ve won, and we can’t let them do that,” Sabo said.
“Students travel all over and there are dangers everywhere, as long as there are groups like ISIS out there,” Sabo said.
French authorities are still working to piece together the events that led to the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Terrorists killed 129 people and injured 352 during multiple attacks throughout the city, including a mass shooting, suicide bombers and the murder of hostages.
“Americans, French, friends, neighbors, relatives, everybody should care about this. They should be writing their Congresspersons about what they expect them to do,” she said.
Sabo also said people should be standing up to these groups and willing to support expenditures for intelligence, diplomacy or military action as the situations necessitate.
“There are places in the world where people feel as if they’re immune to these types of attacks,” she said. “Nobody is immune.”
Former MCCC student Alee Hill said the attacks have taken away the sense of frivolity, happiness, and fun that the idea of Paris held for her.
“Just a few short months ago I was gazing at the Eiffel Tower, purchasing books at Shakespeare and Company, and trying to navigate the Metro without a care in the world,” Hill said.
“It just hurts to see that Paris isn’t able to fully give the excitement and romance to its citizens and tourists as I know it can; at the moment, it holds a sense of fear.”
Hill doesn’t see the Paris attacks as a problem of religion.
“I do not blame a certain religion for these attacks. Terrorism has no religion,” she said.
MCCC International Studies Club president Steven Moore, said it was heartbreaking to see the destruction in a place where he was shown such beauty.
It was encouraging, he said, to see how the world responded.
“Seeing the world light up the one night Paris didn’t, gave me a sense of hope for us as humans. I pray for the people of Paris. I can’t wait to go back and see the beauty of Paris again,” Moore said.
Former MCCC student Julia Grzywinski said Paris was like a dream.
“It’s seen as this city of lights, and love, and of life. People are just driven to its allure. I never really understood what any of that was about until I actually got there, though,” Grzywinski said.
“It’s so beautiful, and busy, and full of life. It’s brilliant. The time we spent there was amazing.”
For her, standing underneath the Eiffel Tower was a surreal moment.
“It’s one of the most known landmarks in the world, and watching it light up at night is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life, but it’s kind of been tainted and soiled by the image of the tower being dark. That image is so haunting and just scary and sad,” she said.
Former MCCC student Kayla Corne also commented.
“When I first heard the news about the terrorist attacks in Paris, my heart sank,” she said. “I thought to myself, I was just there, how is this happening? All I could think about was all of the good times and memories we had there were now in the shadows of fear.”
Another issue which is now front and center is the Syrian refugee crisis.
Many argue that ISIS wants the US to reject refugees and increase airstrikes in Syria and abroad. This helps their goal by creating new enemies of the US who will be persuaded into fighting for groups like ISIS, who recruit those affected by our militant actions in the Middle East.
Corne said that denying entrance to any refugee sends the wrong message.
“These people fleeing need a safe place to go. They are longing to find hope for tomorrow, and I think the least we can do is provide them a little peace of mind in a time of turmoil,” she said.
“Honestly, if ISIS wants to do something to America, they will. Refugees are an independent factor of what is going on, and to clump them into the terrorist crisis is wrong,” Corne said.
“It is my hope that people will begin to educate themselves more on the topic of refugees.”
The judgments on refugee motives discredits their past and the conditions they left, Corne said.
“Our world has always had to combat hate, and it’s time we break the mold,” she said.
Grzywinski also said she thinks the U.S. and other countries should continue to aid refugees from the Middle East.
“We change our Facebook profile picture filters, we retweet all of these things saying ‘pray for Pairs’ and ‘pray for peace,’ ‘pray for the world.’ We light up our buildings with the colors of the French flag. We talk about how these things need to change, yet how can we say that we support them if we don’t want to help them?”
“These people have nowhere to go. I understand the government at both the state and federal levels are trying to be cautious of other attacks that may take place here. I get that they want to protect their own citizens,” she said.
“I get that ISIS has claimed that it has soldiers, or followers, or whatever they label themselves, here in the states. None of this changes the fact that these [refugees] need help.”
Hill also voiced concern for the art and history that countries like Paris have to lose in targeted attacks. Earlier this year ISIS claimed responsibility for the destruction of invaluable historic artifacts in the Middle East, such as those in the ancient Assyrian city Nimrud.
“Not only would these terrorists groups be causing mayhem, but they’d also be taking away art and culture that has existed for, in many cases, centuries,” she said.
“I know people have lost their lives, and so many others are in a state of panic, but someone has to think about the art and culture. It gives the present a look in to the past, and it’s humbling.”