Hamilton in France students with James Du Vernay '03 at the U.S. Embassy’s George C. Marshall Center, known as the Hôtel de Talleyrand.

Before the semester ended, Hamilton in France students had the chance to visit the U.S. Embassy and meet U.S. Consul for Western France and Hamilton in France alum James P. Du Vernay ’03.

Upon arrival, we were given a historical tour of the U.S. Embassy’s George C. Marshall Center, which is also known as the Hôtel de Talleyrand. Enormous and ornate, the building holds major historical significance; its occupants go all the way back to 18th century when King Louis XV’s architects crafted the mansion themselves. The inside of the building was reminiscent of the Versailles Palace, which we visited at the beginning of the semester.

After the tour, Mr. Du Vernay presented his work to the group and also responded to questions. The visit presented a wonderful opportunity to learn about work a Hamilton in France alumnus now pursues. A foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Du Vernay currently serves as the principal officer at the U.S. Consulate for Western France, based in the city of Rennes, France. 

He completed diplomatic assignments in five different countries before arriving in Rennes in 2018. Before the diplomatic service, Mr. Du Vernay was an English teaching assistant in French Guyana, a park ranger in California, and communications assistant for the New York City Office of Emergency Management. Mr. Du Vernay majored in public policy and French while at Hamilton. It was inspiring to learn about someone who has seized such wide-ranging opportunities presented during and after his time studying in France.

Mr. Du Vernay spoke about pursuing careers in foreign service and explained the various steps commonly involved in this career path. Most notably, Mr. Du Vernay told us how important the Hamilton in France program was to learning French, which was exciting to hear. Learning that Mr. Du Vernay continued to hold onto the language after finishing his time abroad left me optimistic for my own pursuit of continuing my French studies after graduation.

This visit to the George C. Marshall Center and discussion with Mr. Du Vernay was one of my favorite activities we did through the Hamilton in France program. The visit gave me a fresh perspective about the possibilities and opportunities we can pursue after graduation in relation to our experiences this semester.


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