by Jean-Benoît Nadeau

Here we go! Very soon, I’ll be embarking on a trip to the South Pacific…New Caledonia to be more specific. I feel privileged to have been invited as the guest conference speaker for the Forum francophone du Pacifique (French Speaking-Communities Forum of the Pacific). Held between October 14 and 17, the forum unites the Alliances Françaises from Austrailia, New-Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu.

There are three obvious advantages to venturing to the opposite end of the world. Firstly: language. The statistics on French language instruction in Australia and New Zealand are surprisingly high. I’m very curious to hear from their delegates, especially during the roundtable on broadcasting. Inadvertently, I will no doubt learn about the other countries that will be at the forum, and learning about different countries is always fascinating.

Secondly: to better understand Oversea France. Oversea France plays a key role in France’s international status. New Caledonia is a TOM, a Territoire d’Outre-Mer (overseas territory), which has a different status from a DOM, a Département d’Outre-Mer (overseas department). I’m looking forward to observing firsthand how it all works together politically, economically and socially speaking.

And lastly, there is New Caledonia itself. It will be an amazing opportunity for discovery. I will get to explore a whole new country, take in a different culture and their traditions, as well as try new and exciting culinary dishes. The only thing that I know for sure is that one week in New Caledonia is much too short.