Yesterday FSRL came to another milestone. All the freshmen in the nursing school and the rehab school were honored for successful completion of the first year of general studies. The end of the first year also marks the beginning of the program of rehab for our seven students of OT and PT. It is called the “Prise d’habit”: taking of the uniform for the first time. The phrase reminds me a of a similar ceremony for a nun: “taking the habit”. For the nurses, it is an old tradition called “Prise de coiffe”, or taking the cap
I am thrilled to say that at that event we had the honor of the presence of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Handicapped Persons(SEIPH): Mr. Gerald Oriol Jr. Each class has the happy task of choosing someone to invite to have the honor of being the patron of the class. The word is not “patron”, though – it is “godfather” (“parrain”) or “godmother” (marraine)! M. Gerald Oriol Jr. is the parrain of the freshman class – the class of 2020.
He accepted very graciously back before Christmas, and he came in person to participate in this significant event for the freshmen.
There is something very compelling and attractive about M. Oriol’s presence as a leader and advocate for integration of persons with handicaps. He has a calm, non-anxious, demeanor. He has world-class eye contact: you get the feeling of being seen by an intelligent and thoughtful person, without being judged. He has a deep voice and speaks clearly, giving challenge and encouragement at the same time.
He comes to events in a wheelchair. His presence gives two very different messages. One is that that he must be a disabled person- the chair! The other is that he is a highly-abled person, the Secretary of State! His presence gives a challenge to knee-jerk reactions: people stop what they are doing and they listen with real interest.