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Design for Social Impact Blog: Welcome to France!

Class of MDES
Selfie by Elena Cortina

Meet Daniela, as she takes us through her first few weeks as a student in the Masters in Design for Social Impact (MDES) program


Salut! Welcome to our Design for Social Impact Blog! Here we will give you an exclusive look inside the life of a Masters in Design for Social Impact (MDES) student. This year we have 7 highly motivated masters students, all passionate about contributing to the improvement of society and dedicated to having a meaningful career path. Throughout the year I’ll be sharing my experience with you and highlighting the impact that our student’s personal projects have on society. 

I’m going to kick things off by taking you with us on our journey through the first few weeks at PCA, including an exciting weekend trip to Bordeaux;

Our journey began on August 26th, with orientation week. It was exciting to meet other students, get our schedules and meet the faculty. PCA even helped us out with some great Paris Tips! We shared our personal history and nurtured our small community of social changers. The next week classes started. We hit the ground running, and have been busy with challenging projects and interesting assignments. Not everything has been studying and work though; we also made our first trip as the official MDES group, with a trip to Bordeaux!

Our professor Dorianne, a member of Make Sense, had provided recommendations on where to go in Bordeaux, so we were all pretty excited. We got on the train at Gare de Montparnasse in Paris and were able to see the beautiful landscapes of western France as we traveled to Bordeaux. The trip was quite fast: before I knew it, we had arrived at the station. Our accommodations were in the center of Bordeaux and we decided to stretch our legs and walk the 25 minutes into town, rather than take the Tram. This may have been a mistake as it was extremely hot by the time we made it into the hostel. But we refreshed, drank some water, and headed out to explore the city.

Our first stop was The Buzz at La Ruche. The Buzz is an event where social entrepreneurs talk about their past and share experiences every Friday at 12:30pm. The event is free with the purpose of fostering a community of like-minded people. Anyone can come, just bring your lunch and be ready to share your experiences (in french … desolée!). While we were there, a couple of regulars explained the concept behind the event, saying that its a co-working place that focuses on social entrepreneurs. You have the option of becoming a member if you are looking for easy access to other events around France. I was interested in the idea and think that if you are planning to stay in France, this would be a great place to start developing a new network.

With stomachs and minds full we decided to explore Bordeaux’s wandering narrow streets. We checked out Le Miroir d’Eau then walked down Rue Saint Catherine and ate some canellés. Then, went back to the hostel to rest and relax. That evening we ate pizzas at Place Pey Berland and took a  tour of Cathédrale Saint-André. It was fascinating to hear a little bit of Bordeaux history since it was the weekend of Journées du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days).

On Sunday, we partook in the World Ocean Clean-Up Day with the SDG Summit 2019 on the subject of global warming and the related issues. The event was organized by Decathlon in Bordeaux and we spent the day helping clean up around Bordeaux Lake. The majority of what we found was small trash items like cigarette butts and small pieces of plastic garbage. This made me more conscious of the impact that ‘minor’ trash has on the environment. That afternoon we explored the shops then went to the Cité du Vin and took some amazing pictures of this fantastic building. After a quick stop at the hostel to grab our things it was off the train and back to Paris. 

Overall the trip was an exciting first adventure into the culture of France and also a great way to get to know and understand the backgrounds of the other master students in an informal context! I’m excited that this is the beginning of our journey in France, as social designers at PCA and beyond. 

Check back in soon! Every two weeks I’ll be bringing you more MDES adventures. You’ll discover more about our group, courses, and projects; so we invite you to stay tuned and learn more about our life-changing journeys.