APSU graduate student Lelann Evans is receiving a first-hand experience of the impact from the Paris attacks that occurred Friday, Nov. 13.
Evans is currently living in Paris working towards his master’s in international relations and diplomacy. The night of the attacks, Evans was having dinner with a classmate in the southeast region of the city.
“I did not know about the attacks until I got home and received a phone call from that same classmate,” Evans said.
Like the rest of the city, Evans said he was shocked and confused. Being an American, he was reminded of his prior experience with a terrorist attack.
“When I saw the news, I thought back to sixth grade getting ready for school and watching the news about 9/11,” Evans said.
The flashback brought similar emotions to Evans as he pondered the recent events. Disbelief being a prominent one, Evans has lived in Paris since August 2015. Evans recalls telling a friend on the phone just two days before the attacks how safe he felt in Paris.
“I told them how I could walk around at 4 a.m. and not be worried about harmed,” Evans said.
Even after going through 9/11 in the United States, it was still difficult for the events to seem real to Evans. The day after, he sat in his room all day and wrote in his journal.
“I was not afraid,” Evans said. “I was mourning. As President Obama said ‘This is an attack not just on Paris. It’s an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.’”
The next day, Evans and his classmates went to a memorial to pay their respects to those who lost their lives. According to Evans, the people of Paris formed a unity in no time, and are still determined to show the terrorists that they will not be afraid. The prominent atmosphere, as observed by Evans, is a sense of unity and togetherness.
“‘Meme Pas Peur,’ means I’m not afraid in French,” Evans said. “It was the message being posted for the terrorist to see.”
Evans had his classmates to grieve with, so he waited until the events were covered by national news to call home.
“I wanted to be sure they already knew about it before I checked in with them,” Evans said.
Much like the people of Paris, Evans said he has not allowed the attacks to ruin his experience or his decision to keep studying Paris.
“I still love living in Paris, and don’t plan on allowing a situation like this to scare me away,” Evans said. “Evil has no boundaries. There is no place on Earth that cannot be struck by such an attack. Returning to the United States would not make me feel any safer other than the fact that my family would be closer.”
As for the city itself, Evans said he is noticing a prompt recovery. He notes that while Paris was left with a scar, it was still able to function within a short period of time. The people of Paris are not willing to let their city collapse at the presence of fear, and neither is Evans going to let his spirits be destroyed by the attacks.
“We cannot allow fear to cripple us, but instead we must have the courage to fight evil with love, and live each day being grateful for the present of the present,” Evans said.