Off to France

Judith Beverley Giblin, a recipient of the European Union-managed Erasmus Mundus scholarship to study for her Masters’ Degree in paleo-oceanography at the University of Lille 1 in Northern France, is so excited about her program and travelling to France.

This science student was educated at Veiuto Primary School and then Jai Narayan College has always been environmentally-conscious.

“I was fascinated with environmental studies at a very young age and I was always on the lookout for the clean-up campaigns which were organised by the Suva City Council, the NGOs, the private sector and my school. I was also interested in the RRR concept — reuse, recycle and reduce and I remember taking on school projects which dealt with environmental issues.

“At Jai Narayan College, I was focused and I already had in mind what I wanted to do. I would read journals and encyclopedias about environmental issues and climate change.

“At the University of the South Pacific my keen interest in the subject saw me excel and I graduated in 2013 with a gold medal — the most outstanding graduate in environmental science.”

After completing her postgraduate study in climate change, Judith continued to do more research on environmental sciences.

“I tried to find a specific field that I could research on for my masters’ thesis and then I came across paleo-oceanography and it is a field that is not widely studied in the Pacific by Pacific islanders,” Judith said.

Judith was under the tutelage of Dr Helene Jacot des Combes at the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) at USP.

“With Dr Helene’s assistance and guidance, I managed to find the program I wanted to do and then procured this scholarship. Dr Helene was my supervisor and she introduced me to the study of paleo-oceanography. She was also instrumental in connecting me to the University of Lille.”

This keen scholar is the first recipient of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed this year between the Embassy of France, USP/PACE-SD and Alliance Française de Suva.

The MOU supports the PACE-SD’s postgraduate students who want to further their studies in France.

Like Judith, they can also enroll in the 15-month French intensive language program which prepares them to be competent in French -—a prerequisite to enroll at a university in France.

When asked “why France?” Judith quietly replied: “When I decided on what research topic I wanted to do, I was mindful that I didn’t speak French and if I was to study in France, I needed to be near-fluent in French first. But after discussions with my supervisors and family, I was convinced that I should take up the offer, make use of the opportunity and make it a personal challenge.

“I was fortunate to learn basic and conversational French at the Alliance Française in Suva. I initially applied for the two-year program but because of my postgraduate diploma, I was given a cross credit and I can do my Masters’ (Degree) in one year.”

In preparation for her trip Judith quipped: “I have been spending some time trying to familiarise myself with my new home and the university and I am excited, the classes will be in English but this doesn’t stop me from improving my French.

“I am also looking forward to do a bit of travelling in my free time like sightseeing at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum that houses the Mona Lisa.

“This will be my first trip to France and I’m so excited. I’m told that French cuisine is the best in the world and I can’t wait to sample the delicacies. I know that I am going to the northern part of France where it can be cold but I like challenges and this will definitely be a challenge to cherish.”

She adds: My conversational French has improved and I am ever grateful for the kind assistance and advice offered to me by the staff of the French Embassy. Their support has been amazing!”

* Moira Vilsoni-Raduva is the Public Affairs adviser at the Embassy of France in Suva.

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