A good friend of Vietnam

French Consul General in Ho Ch Minh City (HCMC) Vincent Floreani has been in Vietnam for more than three years.

One of the things he loves best is shooting photos of Vietnamese scenes as the photos allow him to retain the best moments he has here in the country. However, he feels even more happy because he is a good friend of Vietnam given what he has done to cement ties between France and Vietnam.

Vincent Floreani was among the generous guests who came to the 2020 Blood Donation Day held to celebrate the Weekly 29th anniversary (October 10, 1991-October 10, 2020) on Saturday. The event came at a time when the blood shortage triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic is getting severe. 

Floreani’s deep affections

That was the fourth time Floreani has joined the annual blood drive since he came to Vietnam in 2017. “I love the atmosphere here,” he said. “I love that many people get together to donate blood.” In his opinion, the Saigon Times Group has successfully hosted a meaningful social event, attracting many people.

He said it is necessary to give blood. “The greater number of blood donors is, the more people we can help,” he said. “I hope that the blood I give can help realize such a task.”

But giving blood is only one of the community activity Floreani loves to do here during his term in Vietnam.

Supporting charities is another task regularly done by the French diplomat.

“I have visited some schools in Tra Vinh Province,” Floreani recalled. “It was a long journey, but it was very nice to see children there. They were nice kids.”

Floreani was then on a trip he made with representatives from Chateau Angelus to visit the province in the Mekong Delta. The schools they visited were built by Saigon Children Charity, an NGO, with the financial support from donors of Chateau Angelus in France.

During his service in Vietnam, Floreani also took part in some trips in which benefactors donated bridges to rural areas across Vietnam. “VK Group whose members are overseas Vietnamese living in France and other countries has built some 300 bridges throughout Vietnam, helping people cross rivers easily,” he said.

VK Group was established in late 2003 to be a hub for Vietnamese people living in many countries around the world. This is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which focuses on building concrete bridges to replace shaky bamboo bridges in Vietnam’s rural areas.

On the personal side, Floreani said he loves taking photos of the places in Vietnam he visits. He has stored some of the photos he likes the best in his smartphone. Some depict nice places in Nha Trang City and Khanh Hoa Province or fantastic sand dunes and salt fields in Binh Thuan Province. 

A good friend of Vietnam

BOTTOM LINES OF VINCENT FLOREANI

Q: What are your normal weekdays and weekends in Vietnam?

A: I usually wake up at 6:30. I have breakfast and read news from Twitters and newspapers before going to work at 8 a.m. All of my activities are aimed at developing relations between France and Vietnam. I take a rest at 8 p.m. by reading books or watching TV before going to bed.

On Sundays, I usually join with members of a Saigon photo group as I love shooting photos.

What are your hobbies?

Shooting photos, of course. I love capturing beautiful moments around Vietnam.

Your favorite foods and favorite destinations in Vietnam?

I really love local foods in the three regions, from the North to the Central and the South. I have visited a nature reserve in the northern province of Thanh Hoa as well as some attractions in Ninh Binh Province. They are beautiful. I am inspired by the beautiful scenes.

What is your motto at work and in life?

Always try to learn more.

Floreani said he hopes what has done during his term so far can contribute to the development of relations between France and Vietnam. All considered, he can be said to be a good friend of Vietnam.

In 2017 after finishing his tenure as consul general in Chicago, the United States, Floreani was appointed France’s consul general in HCMC, who is in charge of provinces from Thua Thien Hue to Ca Mau.

The first event he joined after taking the position was the European Heritage Days, a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission involving 50 countries in Europe. The annual program took place at the French residence, the building of the French Consulate General in HCMC. “That year we welcomed more than 1,300 visitors on Open Doors Day,” he said.

“I see my mission as four-fold, with a focus on fostering cooperation in economic development, education, cultural exchange and administration,” he said. On the economic side, the Consulate General in HCMC has assisted French companies to get a foothold and grow in the country by boosting France-Vietnam business cooperation and creating strong links between the two countries in the long term.

“In education, we encourage language exchanges as well as building partnerships between universities to offer online and in-person courses and degrees,” he said. “And, of course, the consular services the citizens are most familiar with, like issuing passports and visas (40,000 a year) and taking care of the French citizens in Vietnam.”

Floreani said he is proud of what he has done in the time he spent here. He wants to do more till the last day of his term in the summer of 2021. “There are many projects to do,” said Floreani, for instance, the introduction of the “Goût Français” (French taste) label in Vietnam to guarantee provenance of imported food, beverages and art-de-vivre (lifestyle) products is one of them.

Floreani said the Consulate General in HCMC will continue to bring together French and Vietnamese scientists to exchange ideas and present their research on medical and sustainability subjects.

Aside from taking photos, Floreani has also tried to learn Vietnamese. “Vietnamese is not an easy language to learn,” he said. “It is hard for me to learn it. But everyone has helped me much during my time in Vietnam. Vietnamese are kind. So, I think it is wonderful for expats who want to live well in Vietnam as long as they have enough patience.”