Portraits of Expatriates - Catherine Phuong - UNHR in the Pacific
Q: Hello, thank you for accepting this meeting. To start, could you please describe briefly your career path?
After three years in Science Po Paris, I studied in England where I did my thesis in International Law. I then became scholar before joining the United Nations in 2005 and work in Geneva, Cambodia and then Fiji.
Q: Where were you born? What is special about this place/ region?
I was born in Bourg-en-Bresse in the Ain department (70km away from Lyon) where the speciality is the chicken of Bresse.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about your firm?
Gathering 8 employees, the High Comission for Human Rights’s Regional Office for the Pacific is an international organisation of the UN system aiming at promoting and protecting Human rights in 16 countries of the Pacific region. It proposes technical assistance to governments in Human rights matters. For example, we organize trainings on the human rights matters for police officers and prison guards in Fiji.
Q: What are your responsibilities in this firm?
I am in charge of the regional office management and of its team. I help the team define its work program and the office priorities. I often travel in the region in order to meet our partners in the various countries and discuss our cooperation with them.
Q: When did you arrive in Fiji and for how long are you there?
I arrived in Fiji in April 2015 and do not have a leaving date.
Q: Why did you decide to come to Fiji?
I was offered this job and wanted to discover a region I did not know.
Q: Do you like your host country?
Yes, I like it. This is a beautiful country of which the inhabitants are sincerely endearing.
Q: What goals you aim to reach before the end of your stay here?
We are looking to maintaining our cooperation with the government and the civil society in the region while making our activities known. We of course aim at contributing to human rights promotion and protection in the region by putting in place training programs in the various countries.
Q: What was your biggest cultural choc when you arrived in Fiji?
I was immediately fascinated by the multicultural wealth of the country in which the cultural mixing is impressive.
Q: Would you stay in Fiji if you get the chance after your contract ends?
Q: Your favorite place in Fiji?
Probably Savusavu on Vanua Levu.
Q: Your favorite restaurant?
Daikoku or Eden, both in Suva.
Q : Your favorite bar?
I would say the GPH (Grand Pacific Hotel) bar
Q: Your favorite beach?
Picnic Island near the Toberua island
Q: Your worst memory?
TC Winston without hesitation
Q: Your best memory?
The launching day of the UN free and Equal campaign on last year’s August 5th in Suva. The Fijian president made a strong and moving speech on discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community.
Q: A word to describe Fijians?
Q: One last word in iTaukei/ Fijian?