The first anniversary of the deadliest attack on France since World War II is approaching. On Nov. 13, 2015, 130 people were killed by coordinated Islamic State attacks on Paris.
Pope High School student, Temple Beth Tikvah member and East Cobb native Ellie Coe was hit hard by the slaughter in France. The daughter of Robin and David Coe is a self-described “avid Francophile” who speaks fluent French and dreams to live in France someday.
Ellie responded by launching the World Solidarity Club at Pope to show support for victims of terrorism. Now the club is holding a concert on Sunday, Nov. 13, the anniversary of the attack, as a benefit for a Life for Paris, a French nonprofit group supporting attack victims and their families.
The concert will feature three Pope student bands, Pinkest, Fully Torqued and Blue Spinning Circus, in part, to “celebrate the resilience of youth and music in light of the attack on the Bataclan concert hall, where many young people were hanging out the night of the attack,” Ellie said. “I feel that having music groups made up of people my own age really captures that idea of solidarity and courage.”
The concert won’t be the end for the club. Ellie, a junior, hopes to turn its attention toward refugee children, first by getting students to make cards for children in refugee camps, then perhaps by holding a poetry night to raise money and awareness.
She answered the AJT’s 4 Questions.
AJT: Why did you start the World Solidarity Club, and what does it do?
Ellie: For months after the Paris attacks of Nov. 13, I had the feeling that I had no impact on the world as a whole, especially in light of such inhumanity. As someone who loves foreign cultures and nations, I came up with the idea for the World Solidarity Club because I was really fed up with not being able to do anything to help people internationally, especially those who have survived events such as terrorist attacks and continuous war. I wanted to raise money and awareness to help these survivors, and I also wanted to form a sort of support community for the teenagers like me who are so deeply touched by the cruelty committed by humans. I thus decided to start this club at my high school, which would allow us to organize events that would show solidarity with and raise awareness for the survivors of the horrors of the world, while finding solace in connecting with people my age nearby who are as shaken by this violence and inhumanity as I am.
AJT: Why did the Nov. 13 attacks affect you so much?
Ellie: As a Francophile who was just a baby when the events of 9/11 happened, this attack on Paris really shook my world. The fact that these young people were attacked while they were doing nothing more than hanging out, listening to music, and eating en terrasse really shocked me. Already having a deep connection with France, I felt such empathy for these people; I imagined myself in their shoes, attending a concert in Paris or eating outside in the 11e Arrondissement, thinking about what I would do in their situation, how I would have felt afterwards. When I think of the families and friendships destroyed, their joie de vivre attacked, I begin to cry. … A lot of the survivors still haven’t completely recovered yet. Some of them are still in the hospital months later, and many of them are still trying to heal psychologically from the things they saw that night. My heart always rests with all the people who have lost someone, who were at the scene of the attacks on Nov. 13, or both. This horror is so hard to come to terms with, and I really hope that one day I can do more to support those affected, to help them heal, although I can imagine that the healing process takes lots of time.
AJT: How did you pull together this concert at the Alliance Française?
Ellie: I am a member of the Alliance Française, a community of Francophiles from the metro Atlanta area. In April of last year, I helped organize and advertise a new class there for teenagers who want to improve their spoken French. When I was looking for a venue for this concert, I decided to turn to the Alliance Française because I knew that they would support me in this endeavor. The amazing teacher of the class that I helped organize, Catherine Thille, graciously offered to help me organize the concert … and allowed me to reach out to all the members of this community to spread the word about the concert. I am so happy that I am able to organize the concert at this venue instead of in my high school’s cafeteria, which would have been my backup plan.
AJT: Why did you choose Life for Paris as the beneficiary for this concert? What does it do?
Ellie: Life for Paris is an organization made up of survivors of the Paris attacks — a safe place for these people to heal by connecting with others who have lived through the same events that they have. I chose this organization as the beneficiary for my concert because I love what it stands for, and I am really touched by the members’ bravery, resilience and desire to heal (I wish them all bon courage, for their stories make me cry). It has been my dream for months to find a way to help those affected by the Paris attacks, especially those affected psychologically by what they saw that night. I feel as if donating to this organization is the best way to get money and support directly to these survivors, instead of a charity organization that may or may not donate to these particular people.
What: Paris memorial concert
Where: Alliance Française d’Atlanta, 1197 Peachtree St., Midtown
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13
Tickets: $10 donation suggested; www.afatl.com or 770-361-5916