The French Connection
I spent last week at a conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Fortunately, my flight home was non-stop and would only take about four and a half hours. As I settled in to my window seat, a young woman took the middle seat next to me. As she was settling in, I noticed her passport was not a US passport, and in my limited traveling experience that was unusual. However, I didn't feel it was my business, so I didn't ask the question that was in my mind, "Where are you from?"
As time would have it, we started conversing and it turned out she was going back to Berkeley, CA, after assisting a friend to move out to Nashville. However, she had a slight accent, very light and almost undetectable. So, I finally did ask her the question that was foremost in my mind. It turns out she is from France, and is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. Her accent was a result of having grown up in English speaking countries like the US, Canada and England, but her home is in France. We talked about our professions, but mostly about her work in “statistical machine learning and scientific computing applied to molecular biology problems, such as inferring the 3D architecture of the genome or data-integration methods to better understand gene regulatory networks.” Okay, I know that’s a little over the top. Did I say that she was impressive? (I won’t bore you with the technical details of that part of conversation.)
So, in a short, pleasant conversation I learned a bit more about the place of birth of many of my ancestors, that they were French-speaking (well, French of a sort) who lived as subjects of the British crown. It kind of information that brings me a bit closer to long ago roots.