Featured alumnus: Isidore Bethel
Visual & Environmental Studies Major, Harvard University 2011 / CUPA Spring 2010
Spring of my junior year, I was thinking about taking a semester off from my studies at Harvard. I decided that going abroad would provide the change I was looking for while broadening my academic horizons. I had spoken French in elementary school, so Paris seemed a logical and intriguing choice. CUPA gave me a taste of what living in the French capital could be like – both within and outside of a university context. I took classes – on cinematography, Russian language and literature, economics of the European film industry – a couple of days a week. The rest of my time I spent in museums, bars, galleries, and movie theaters. The wonderful people I met there made my semester abroad exceptional.
I am deeply grateful to CUPA for this opportunity to discover Paris. The program acknowledged that learning about another culture extends far beyond the classroom. CUPA’s guided visits to different Parisian neighborhoods and excursions to the provinces complemented my independent exploration of the capital. I came to love France more and more. After college, I decided to pursue an M.A. in film theory at the École Normale Supérieure (Ulm). My friends and fellow CUPA alums Angelica Buerkin-Salgado and Andrés Ramírez also returned to Paris to continue their studies. I have since edited and produced feature films in France and Mexico, including Of Men and War (directed by Laurent Bécue-Renard), which premiered in the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival. I’m currently directing my first feature and developing an interactive museum installation for France and the United States. Without CUPA’s early encouragement, I would never have opted to move to France after undergraduate. That idyllic semester during my junior year hooked me – and led me to consider living and working far from where I grew up.