As a computer science major, I have engaged in a wide variety of software and research projects. But my experience at the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Lab of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris sparked my interest in a new domain, assistive technologies. My work contributed to the on-going research project aiming to develop a tactile navigation system for visually impaired individuals, led by Professor Pissaloux of the ISIR lab.
The second day of my internship, I learned some difficult news: due to extenuating circumstances beyond the lab’s control, I would not be provided a physical tactile device to work and test with. Learning that I would not be able to ever test my work on a real device was a surprise, but not a setback. Thanks to my MIT education, I adapted quickly and problem solved. The following week, I had built a MATLAB simulator that replicated the functionality of the matrix as a black box. With this hurdle behind me, I progressed quickly and ultimately contributed a vast and modular code architecture useful to future researchers on the project.
But my research experience was just one part of my memorable summer. I wanted to really live in France, not as a tourist but as a Parisienne. I was inspired to engage in the French culture and language thanks to the French courses I had taken while at MIT, the MISTI Training Sessions, and my participation with the MIT Language Conversation Exchange program. My immersive experience was grounded in my living community; I lived in a French foyer where I encouraged cultural and language exchange by organizing group dinners and a crepe night. I also engaged in the Paris community in creative ways; I spent 30 hours volunteering at a social center serving low-income families of Paris, and I explored the countryside of France and met new friends through the site www.onvasortir.com (a site similar in concept to meetup.com). By meeting so many new people, I learned that every individual has a story, and it is these stories that constitute a community, a region, a country, and ultimately our world.
My internship in France was made possibly by the the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). MISTI matches MIT students with fully-funded internships abroad, and prepares them for their experiences through various training sessions and language proficiency requirements. I am extremely grateful to the MISTI program for enabling my summer abroad.
"During her two month stay Miss Hadley provided work of exceptional quality, inventiveness, imagination and creativity. I would add that Miss Hadley is a person of very broad knowledge, open minded, enthusiastic, very easy to work with and passionate. She is almost fluent in French, and this helped her to communicate with others and share her knowledge, but also showed her curiosity and open mind to others (and especially French) language and culture.
Professor Edwige Pissaloux, Mentor
"Tu es très ouverte d'esprit et c'est un gage de grande intelligence ; tu as un brillant avenir devant toi." (You are very open in spirit and that’s a gauge of great intelligence. You have a brilliant future ahead of you)
"Votre générosité et votre sens de l'autre son remarquables. Continuez ainsi. C'est votre richesse : ne pas se regarder soi-même, mais s'ouvrir aux autres, se faire accueil et partage, donner et recevoir. Courage pour continuer et aller plus loin, c'est un beau chemin de vie." (Your generosity and your consideration for others is remarkable. Continue like that always. It’s your value: not looking at yourself, but opening your eyes to others, welcoming and sharing, giving and receiving. Best of luck continuing like this, it’s a beautiful way of life."
House mother of the foyer where I lived