Diplomacy, a family trait.

After 3 years, Sophie Quiles and her family, return to France later this year leaving a piece of her heart in Fiji. Here’s a brief reflection of her time here.

Q: Hello, thank you for accepting to answer our questions. To begin, could you please tell us briefly about your background?

A: Hello. Well, my career, I think has been unusual. My mother worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and spent most of her career abroad so I was raised in the diplomatic community. I wanted to try something different so I studied tourism. I began my career at the Lyon airport. Then I moved to Guatemala, where I got a job as a teacher in a school I had attended as a child. On the eve of a Francophone summit, I went to Hanoi, Vietnam, where I was employed as a local agent at the Embassy of France. My career path took me to Boston where I finally passed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exams and became a foreign services officer.

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Another day at the office, Sophie (standing) with colleague Luisa Bole-Kean.

Q: Where were you born? Tell us a bit about where you’re from; it’s cultural, social and geographic characteristics?

A: I was born in Paris, but I’m a Norman through marriage and adoption so I will tell you about Normandy. The region is known for its cheese, sour cream, cider and calvados (an apple based brandy). It is also a region of stud horses, lace (Alençon) and green meadows..... I don’t always agree with the Normans, but I love Normandy!

Q: Please tell us about the company you work for?

A: It is not a company but a French administration. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deals with diplomatic issues, with an extensive network of embassies (France has the second most extensive in the world!). We have three embassies in the Pacific (excluding Australia and New Zealand) in Suva of course - the one where I work, whose Ambassador is also accredited to Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu - Port Vila and Port Moresby. I think we are the only European country with this many in the region, but it is related to the fact that France is a country of the Pacific, with our fellow citizens of New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna.

Q: When did you arrive in Fiji and how long will you stay?

A: I disembarked at Nadi Airport on 27th August 2010. I have stayed in Fiji for three years and I leave this little paradise at the end of July 2013.

Q: What motivated you to come to Fiji?

A: Work.

Q: Do you like living in Fiji?

A: Yes. To the point that when I leave, I will leave behind a piece of my heart. I have been all over the world and met many people… but Fiji is by far the best!

Q: What shocked you the most, culturally, when you first arrived in Fiji?

A: Policemen in sulus’s. (knee length, skirt-like garment for men)

Q: Would you come back to Fiji?

A: Without hesitation. I want my son, Liam, to be able to revisit the people and culture that cared for him during the first year of his life.

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Sophie meeting Fiji’s President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau at the Grande Marque Tattinger Champagne launch at the Ambassador’s Residence.

Short Answer Questions

Q: Your favourite place in Fiji?

A: Naigani Island. A little jewel. A corner of paradise in paradise.

Q: Favourite restaurant?

A: Daikoku is a favourite hands down in the Quiles family.

Q: Favourite bar?

A: Mango during the “Bulapéro” (where French speakers meet for a glass every third Friday of the month).

Q: Favourite beach?

A: Uprising Beach on Sundays when the weather is good.

Q: Worst memory?

A: None.

Q: Best memory?

A: All

Q: One word to describe the Fijians?

A: Only one? That’s hard! Warm

Q: A last word in Fijian?

A: Ni sa moce (Good-bye)

Published on 13/08/2013

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