DE QUOI WELCOME EST-IL LE NOM ? Et ce que veut dire intégration
WELCOME : such is the word whose sound you should hear, whose spelling you should read, whose meaning you should feel everywhere around you in the next few weeks.
WELCOME : a very common word, from the very common tongue that was the Old English of the early Middle Ages.
WELCOME : from the Old English wilcuma, « one whose coming is pleasant», as states the Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary.
WELCOME : is that the word we want to sing to you, freshly arrived Elephants and young Beavers ? Your coming is most certainly pleasant, yet the word seems weak. Your arrival is indeed far more than pleasant: it is NEEDED. We, second year Beavers, need YOU, First Years of both programs and Second Year Elephants. In the end, the traditional, even etymological meaning of WELCOME does not satisfy us, at least it does not satisfy me, when it comes to expressing the reason why we need you here in Reims, and how we mean not only to make your coming enjoyable, but to make this place yours, so that at the end of each holiday, Welcome in Reims will mean Welcome Home.
Your arrival, young 1As and old Elephants, is like a breath of fresh air. Diversity in the small (but lovely) campus that we were could not be called true diversity. The comfortable environment we created at the end of last year needs to be disturbed; the order that the former 2As Beavers left must be shaken : we want your ideas and personalities to be expressed, we want you to participate into creating a whole new campus. In order to do so, the BDE made the Integration week. Again, we must pay careful attention to the word : Integration, not assimilation. Our purpose is to make you feel at ease within the framework of the campus life, and to enrich the possibilities it offers. We do not want to make you follow fanatically a model, comply with dogmas, imitate every precedent. By integration, we mean not only introducing you to our world and traditions, but also inducing you to do the same for us in return. There is no true WELCOME without the subsequent INTEGRATION, and no INTEGRATION is worth the name unless EXCHANGE is allowed. And how can EXCHANGE be made if ASSIMILATION makes both parties identical ?
Yet no exchange can take place where the differences are turned into walls. The greatest fear we could have had was that the Euraf and Euram programs would be integrally separated : the BDE went beyond this obstacle. By mixing Euram and Euraf members, it created a bridge between our two programs.
I would argue that our campus is now an interesting case of federalism : two states, one Republic. As such, it is the most enriching experience, the most fascinating political experiment we could dream of, as students of SciencesPo. It is the opportunity to question our own self-proclaimed values and political orientations : are we that open to the Other? How do we behave ourselves when the lines of our comfort zone are questioned ? How can we stay true to ourselves while making a place to the newcomer, and accepting necessary evolution, beneficial changes ?
What we can know for sure, is that at the end of the year, this experience will have changed not only the campus but ourselves. Personally speaking, I very much look forward to it.
WELCOME TO THE SCIENCESPO CAMPUS OF REIMS !
May our exchange and dialogue be forever fruitful.