Cui Miu Chin

Cui Miu Chin
Combined History and Asian Studies
French, European Studies
First Year Seminar Writing Mentor (Spring 2008), Reading and Math Program Tutor (Fall 2007, Spring 2008), Community Assistant (Spring 2005, Fall 2006), Study Abroad Program in France (Spring 2005, Fall 2006)

When I came to St. Lawrence, I was certain of two things: I wanted to
study history and I wanted to travel. And so, in my freshman year I declared a
history major and studied abroad on the France program (Spring 2005). My
decision to study in France laid in a general desire to travel rather than any
particular interest in French history. (At the time, I was still primarily
interested in Chinese-American immigration history.) Nonetheless, I found my
study abroad experience to be genuinely enjoyable as well as personally and
academically enriching. In particular, my warm and accommodating host family greatly
facilitated my ability to learn the French language. From a minimal knowledge
of French (French 101), I gained a reasonable proficiency in
understanding/speaking and reading/writing French. When I returned to St.
Lawrence, I wanted to maintain these language skills and so I continued to take
French classes. By junior year, French language fluency had become an important
engagement in which I had invested a significant amount of time. Thus, it only
seemed logical that I return to France for further study (Fall 2006). Once
again, my interest was linguistic rather than historical.

In any event, it was my second venture in France that piqued my
interest in its history. In the fall of 2006, the so-called “veil affair” (the
2004 law banning conspicuous religious symbols in public schools), the 2005 suburban
riots, and the 2005 law on colonialism were still fresh events. These events
inevitably constituted aspects of the landscape in which my study abroad was
situated. Moreover, I found myself interested in the history that helped to
engender and continued to inform these debates. In my senior year, I decided to
undertake a European Studies independent study which provided a unique
opportunity to further explore these issues. My research project sought to
explore the connections between contemporary assimilation policies toward Muslim
immigrants and the “national integration” policies of the early Third Republic
(1870-1914) toward a majority peasant population whose ambiguously “French
republican” identities (and loyalties) were decidedly local and Catholic.