Nothing by Chance

Posted February 10, 2011 from United States

How many times do we ask ourselves how we got to where we are today? As a 2010 Minnesota college graduate spending her first year of liberation working as an au pair in Marseille, France, I have personally pondered this question quite often the past few months. Incredibly, my query has led me to a discovery.

Today started in the moments leading up to my birth twenty-two years ago, when my parents turned the radio on while driving to the hospital and happened upon a station playing The Beatles’ hit, “Michelle.” Later on that day, when it came time to choose a name for their newborn daughter, they decided upon Michelle, remembering the song they’d heard but hours before. As I grew up, they often reminded me how they had found a name for me, and I was always terribly proud of my connection with the greatest musical group this world has ever known. Years later, when I chose my classes during my first semester of high school, it was the origin of my name and the language used within this celebrated song that persuaded me to start learning French.

Finding success and passion in studying the French language, I chose this as one of my majors in college. I subsequently spent the fall semester of my junior year studying abroad in Cannes, where I became very close with the director of our program. Last January, she emailed our group to see if anybody would be interested in spending the 2010-2011 school year in Marseille as an au pair for her friend’s sister’s friend…and eight months later, I stepped off the plane in Paris to take the train south to the city of resistance.

So that’s my answer: that’s how I got here, living the most beautiful dream of my life with a wonderful family who makes me feel so at home, a club ice hockey team that has welcomed me from the very first practice, a volunteer organization that is eager for my help as well as my opinion, and a community that has accepted me as a person and not a stereotype. I am unsuccessfully searching for the words to describe how my life has been changed by my experiences in Marseille, so ‘until I find a way, I will say the only words I know that you’ll understand’: it’s a miracle.

My Story: Miracles

Comments 3

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  • Jan Askin
    Feb 14, 2011
    Feb 14, 2011

    Dear Michelle,

    In 1966, I traveled for a month in France with a student group. Now, as a 60 year old woman, your story takes me back to that time. There was a department store with franchises throughout France that played "Michelle" endlessly as Musak.

    I enjoyed your story so much. It captures the story of many people whose lives seem to continue a thread whose weaving began years previously.

    Your sister in the US,


  • Frances Faulkner
    Feb 15, 2011
    Feb 15, 2011


    I love this story because it is about connections and faith -- hearing the song on the radio, taking French because of your name, following up with your instructor...

    Perhaps when we go through life connecting things in ways that make sense to us, we set up our own support systems almost without knowing it, and stumble onto miracles without expecting them.

    Merci Michelle,


  • Sally
    Feb 17, 2011
    Feb 17, 2011

    I enjoyed hearing your story and how each of the steps in your life have helped you to become the person you are today. Thank you for sharing!

    Sally Smith