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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

JOURNAL: Deep in my roots

For 22 year-old Monica Luchez, Bastille Days means more to her than just a weekend at Cathedral Square Park.

“This is a festival based on culture and quite frankly it honors a city that not too many people from Wisconsin may be familiar with,” Luchez said.

Luchez’s mother immigrated to Milwaukee from France, and as a first generation American, Luchez said that having never been to France, she felt isolated.

“It was just tough you know because I was French but with such a bustling German community in Milwaukee, I felt like it was hard to find ways to really celebrate and even learn about my background,” Luchez said.

That is until Luchez attended last year’s Bastille Days which originated in the Milwaukee Cathedral Square Park in 1982.

She said that moment was when she realized what most people consider a weekend full of entertainment can also be a weekend of knowledge and wisdom.

“With all due respect, and I know we live in Wisconsin, but what people need to understand is that there is more to a festival than getting drunk and buying a French beret,” Luchez said.

After attending her second annual Bastille Days this past July, Luchez said that these events hold so much more history than most people think and that she hopes that after this year’s Bastille Days, people will try to motivate themselves to learn more about France’s rich culture.

“It was my first ever introduction into my own roots,” Luchez said. “It just makes you think that even in the states, there are ways to immerse yourself in a number of different cultures and learn as much as you can about them.” 

“It was amazing. I will never forget how many things I learned about French people in Wisconsin and more importantly ways to get involved,” Luchez said.

Milwaukee has over 25 festivals through the summer months, several of which highlight specific cultures and not only showcase authentic food and drinks, but also highlight the history of their culture in the United States.

After attending last year’s Bastille Days, Luchez said that she decided to take her first trip to France on a whim. 

“It was one of those things where I thought ‘Monica, if you do not do this now, you will regret it for the rest of your life,’” Luchez said.

Luchez said she learned a lot during her time in France, but what surprised her most was that to learn that Europeans do not typically ask for ice in their drinks. She also said that she learned more about the rich history of fashion in France.

She also said that she met people from France who she was able to share conversation with explaining what Bastille Days was.

“I will never forget I met this man who was from France who had been to Bastille Days in Milwaukee,” Luchez said.

If it was not for her immersion in 2022’s Bastille Days, she would not have ever had the courage and guts to travel to the country,

“I was this 20 year-old kid (at the time) with 40 euros in my pocket just trying to explore, but it was such a full circle moment that I never would have thought I would be going there had I not gotten the basic education of what it meant to be French here in Milwaukee,” Luchez said. 

Luchez said she was nervous to travel to France without any prior knowledge to her culture and that she never expected Milwaukee to be where she kick started her knowledge on her home country.

Now, back home in Milwaukee, working and living with her boyfriend and two dogs, Luchez said that she’ll never miss another Bastille Days weekend.

“I literally drive my family crazy because once July rolls around I can’t shut up about going and I actually am hoping to get my mom and dad to come out with me next year,” Luchez said.

Luchez said that she also visits many cultural festivals in Milwaukee because she appreciates the opportunity to learn.

This story was written by TJ Dysart. He can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
TJ Dysart, Content Coach
TJ Dysart is a junior from Boston, Massachusetts studying journalism and criminology and law and is the content coach of the Marquette Wire. Last year, he also served in this role. Prior to this position he served as a new multimedia journalist as well as a news reporter. He is also currently the 2023-2024 Foley Fellow for The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. Outside the Wire, TJ enjoys playing basketball, cooking and hanging out with friends.

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