Honorable Mention

Sergius Z. Wat
Harvard University

Paris metroThe photo was taken in the Cité metro station in Paris, France.
I studied French during summer 2009, and one of the most impactful experiences for me was observing how the metro system figures prominently in the lives of the Parisians.
The Paris metro system is significant not only as a central pillar of the Paris transport system; each station is tastefully designed and is a record of history, culture, and tradition. Much of my immersion into French culture commenced through observations that I made on the metro. I was constantly amazed at how performers would randomly enter train carriages to showcase their skills; I was impressed that every inch of the train tunnels are covered with artistic graffiti accumulated over the years.
Most of all, I was pleasantly surprised to frequently observe businessmen on the train – coming from a country where businessmen do not take public transport, it was refreshing to observe how committed the French were to protecting the environment, beginning with a culture that encourages the use of public transport. The Cité metro station is just one of many examples of how the French incorporate art and beauty into the mundane routines of life.