Bonjour à tous !
I had an amazing time this summer interning in Bordeaux, France! I just got back home but I miss it all already. I was in Bordeaux since the very beginning of January to study abroad at two of the local universities. After 6 months I really got to know the place, especially because my work engaged me with the city and its surroundings!
My internship experience was great: educational, eye-opening, and personally rewarding. My boss/internship mentor, Mehdi Hazgui acts as a liaison and mediator between all kinds of parties, from government officials at all levels, experts, and citizens. It was really interesting to see how sociology and focusing on human interaction and experience is a driving force in all kinds of fields: participatory democracy and citizenship, secularism and diversity, city planning, housing sustainable development, education, and culture.
Mehdi is a self-employed consultant, but there’s another sociologist who works part-time in the office with him, Marine. Also, attached to his office is Agence Place, an office consisting of 5 people who often work on projects with him. One of the projects I worked on with Mehdi, Marine, and some of the Agence Place team was in neighboring Lormont at a social housing complex. For my first day of the internship, I went with them to the site, where they presented plans to renovate the public space between the three towers. The very last day of my internship ended with one last presentation of the revised plans for the public space, and I thought that was a cool way to tie the whole experience up in a bow.
There was no typical day for me there, so I got to work on and see all kinds of different projects. Some examples include: a transcription and thematic organization of feedback cards for an EU sponsored concert event, periphery town commerce report, a report on an academic journal article on recent policy changes to public housing, making many cold calls to people for an event about reducing water use, and doing some light graphic design for informational material.
Especially towards the end of my time in Bordeaux, I started conducting interviews with professionals in different fields and locations. These were really fun for me to prepare for and conduct, and they provided me with so much valuable information. For example, I traveled to Angoulême, a smaller city about 75 miles from Bordeaux, to speak with people in the town hall who are in charge of their Action Coeur de Ville. It was cool to learn about the successes and challenges of a city that is so different from Bordeaux and left me with lots to think about.
This experience provided me with so much information from my experiences and academic research, but it’s also opened up so many other questions and concepts I want to explore. Bordeaux is such a special place, and I am so grateful for everything and everyone who helped me have such an incredible time. À la prochaine !