Community Building at AUP – Family Weekend 2023


This year, The American University of Paris welcomed its largest class of incoming students since it first opened its doors in 1962. To maintain AUP’s cherished close-knit community amidst a time of filled with growth and change, events such as Family Weekend, which took place from October 19th to 21st, are essential.

The second annual Family Weekend was filled with events aiming to allow families to explore some of the enriching academic and cultural experiences unique to AUP. Dana Pasic-Callaghan, Parents Relations Manager, and parent of two AUP students (‘22 and ’25), remembers attending a family-weekend style welcome event for her eldest student prior to working at AUP. This memory drove her to create a formal event focused on celebrating not only the numerous successes of our university, but also what makes this institution so noteworthy to begin with, our students and their families.

The main goal for Family Weekend is to enrich our global community by replicating the diverse environment AUP is naturally home to for students’ families for the weekend. This community building serves to offer support to students and their families, as well as to educate families about the benefits of such a culturally rich academic atmosphere. “I asked myself, ‘what are some of the unique experiences that a student gets to have when they attend AUP, and how can we create them for parents?’” Pasic-Callaghan explained. “Not only would this allow parents to feel closer to their children, but it would also allow them to experience first-hand how the city is very much just an extension of the classroom.” 

To do so, Pasic-Callaghan and her colleagues organized events that provided family members with cultural and academic experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have exposure to such as a cheese tasting event, a presentation by alumna Lindsey Tramuta on her book La Nouvelle Parisienne, and a Global Professional Skills (GPS) Workshop, all within the familiar walls of AUP’s buildings. What is more, like AUP students, parents were also encouraged to extend their experience beyond the classroom through events such as various walking tours, dinners with 12 AUP strangers, and a tour of local markets.

The Sacco-Greiner family were very active participants throughout the weekend. One parent, Kathleen, when asked to summarize her experience, stated, “We really enjoyed family weekend and all of the events we participated in, especially the trivia night where we got to learn about Paris and AUP plus have a lot of laughs and get to know other AUP families. […] Family weekend also allowed us to see our child thriving in a new city and country and to get to know fellow parents.”

In addition to the scheduled events, in typical AUP fashion, families were welcomed with open arms by Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts, Jonathan Shimony, who was hosting a WW1 art showing in the Combes Gallery. Families got to experience first-hand the “more wine and cheese the merrier” mentality typical to France in moments like these. Pasic-Callaghan looks forward to more collaborations with student-driven events like the one Shimony hosted, alumni presentations, and working with current students in the SGA to enhance the overall family weekend experience. Afterall, it is the collective moments that we share while at AUP that allow our institution to remain accessible as students work to pave their path upon receiving their diploma.

Kathleen states it best when she says, “Overall, it was an experience that was uniquely Paris, and uniquely AUP.” Pasic-Callaghan was proud that this year’s Family weekend welcomed double the participants from the year prior, and she is already working hard to allow the feedback from this year to inspire new ways to welcome even more families in the years to come.