Born in the era of the Vietnam War, Loanne managed to overcome the hardships of that time and start a new life in Switzerland. After graduating from Lausanne University with a Master’s degree, she pursued her passion for French heritage by getting a job a UNESCO. Now, more than thirty years since she has discovered her love for the French culture, this lovely lady joins me for a chat in her favourite city: Paris.
Could you please share your passion with us?
My passion is undoubtedly French heritage! I’ve been interested in it ever since my childhood in Vietnam. I think I was 16 when I first realised how passionate I was about it.
Would you say you fulfil your passion for a living?
Yes, definitely. When I was growing up I told myself I would someday work for the United Nations. Not only that, but it was always my dream to work in Paris! And as you know, I worked for UNESCO, a specialised branch of the United Nation, in Paris for 30 years! I went to work every day with a smile on my face and enjoyed every single moment. Now that I am retired, I can happily look back at it and say it was a dream come true.
Tell us a little bit about your job at UNESCO. Did it involve travelling, or meeting people from all around the world?
When working at UNESCO, there wasn’t a single day I felt bored. There was always something new to do. My position in UNESCO involved several sectors, including external relations. Part of my responsibility was to maintain relations with Latin America, particularly the Caribbean. Communication was not always easy as, at that time, it was hard to find people who are fully bilingual. Being fluent in both English and French (and Vietnamese, of course), was both rare and a huge advantage for a person in my position.
Even though my work did not involve a lot of travelling, I was always meeting people from all around the world. This was mostly because most of the ambassadors working in the building came from different parts of the world. It was always very interesting for me to see how differently people dress for work, based on their background. I became so accustomed to observing how people of different cultures dress, that I can now tell where someone is from, just by looking at what they are wearing.
Which is your favourite city, and why?
My favourite city is Paris. Even though I was born in Vietnam, married in Switzerland, and lived in England for several years, I consider Paris my home. When I was in England, I lived in the suburbs and there wasn’t that much to do. Naturally, I got fed up after just a few years. When I finally moved to Paris, I never looked back. I have been living here for more than 30 years, and I am still enjoying every moment of my life in Paris.
How much do you value travelling? What does it mean to you?
Oh, I love travelling! Actually, it’s not just travelling that I enjoy so much, I also enjoy hosting people when they travel. Whenever people come to Paris, I am happy to host them and help them discover the city from a local’s perspective. Likewise, when I travel, I prefer to be shown around by locals. Last time I visited the United States, for example, I was lucky enough to know a couple who took me around their city. It was a truly valuable experience.
I also enjoy meeting people and sharing experiences with them. A lot of the people I met during my travels became my friends for life. I also get to meet new people through the expat community I’m a part of. It’s a community in which we share our passion, our interests, and even our food!