For Laila Knio ‘17, a Park Scholar and French minor, the summer of 2014 was a very busy year. In May, she traveled to France as part of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures‘ Paris, Normandy, and Lille Study Abroad Program. In a recent interview with Lauren Vanderveen, Laila describes her Study Abroad experience this way:
“We spent a week in Paris, then traveled up to Normandy. We visited Omaha Beach on D-Day’s 70th anniversary, and the monastery at the top of Mt. Saint Michel, a small island commune. We spent a night in the beautiful, small port town of Honfleur, and saw the cliffs that Monet painted at Étretat. We spent the weekends traveling, so I had the chance to see Brussels, Ypres, and Bruges in Belgium, as well as Amsterdam in the Netherlands.”
In Lille, she engaged in interesting conversations with the locals while doing homework in cafés. This allowed her to experience “the greatness of dinners that last for two hours, and to learn what it was like for an entire town to close at lunchtime,” as she remarks in the same interview.
After her trip to France, Laila traveled to Lebanon last August, her birthplace and home for a decade, to work on a documentary. There she met and interviewed Mohamed Mezher, a recipient of the Albert Pierce Medal of Heroism. These experiences as well as her meeting last spring with Dr. Randall Williams — a physician who travels to Iraq to help the country’s efforts to reform its health system — helped her to overcome what she describes as an “existential crisis,” prompting her to switch her major from textile engineering to psychology and to pursue a medical career in the future.