Nicoles delighted to serve French community
Little more than a month into her new position as Honorary French Counsul in Bermuda, and Nicole Haziza is already busy making new gains in the role.
One recent success was helping French citizens living in Bermuda to get their passport requests taken locally.
Mrs Haziza said francophones were lucky to have two agents from the Consul General choose Bermuda as their first official mission.
The agents tested a new portable machine that takes fingerprints and transfers the data directly to France through a secured live connection. This saved many French citizens a costly trip to the Consulate in New York, she explained.
She was also contacted recently by a mayors office in a town called Meudon, in the south-west suburbs of Paris, interested in getting information for French citizens looking to visit Bermuda.
She was able to provide them with details on how to get to the Island, what airlines were available and passport queries and said one of her aims as the new French Consul will be to promote the Island to all French citizens who wish to travel.
Its all in a weeks work for Mrs Haziza, who took over from Riquette Bonne-Smith in December.
She was selected for the role after an interview process and said she was looking forward to helping and serving the French community — residents and visitors alike.
I am deeply honoured to have been appointed Honorary Consul of France and succeeding to such exemplary persons that are Mr Humann and Mrs Bonne-Smith. After 12 years, I still appreciate what a chance it is to [live in] such a beautiful and welcoming Island.
Edgar Humann, who served as Honorary French Consul of Bermuda for more than ten years, said she was a great pick.
If I may say, I had a little something to do with the appointment. The French Consulate sent someone up to interview the candidates before Mrs Haziza was chosen.
I am very delighted to have Nicole as our new consul because she is terribly organised and I think she represents the Frenchness of us very well.
Born and raised in Paris, Mrs Haziza moved to Bermuda 12 years ago. She spent three of those years in Switzerland, but came back to the Island early last year.
As a trained legal information services manager, she said she has a wealth of knowledge about the French capital and was always happy to provide recommendations to Bermudians travelling to the big city or any of Frances other metropolitan areas that she has visited.
She said: There is so much to do in Paris. I am passionate about the arts so I always went to exhibitions. There are people in cafes and you can sit there and discuss with your friends about ideas of the world.
The diversity of the regions is something I love as well. You can have the ocean and the mountains and the fields of lavender in Provence.
Every place you go you feel like you are in a different country because each region has its own personality and culture and sometimes even a language of its own.
She also liked that the city was very cosmopolitan and in a given day you could hear and speak many languages, discover different cuisines and open your mind to the greater world.
She said she would love to call Bermuda my second home and loves the beauty of the Island and its welcoming people. If you have two hours I could go on. Its just simply beautiful and I have made good friends here.
There are currently 140 French citizens living in Bermuda, but at one point there was over 300 people — including those working in banking, reinsurance, hotels or restaurants. Some have been here for over 30 years and some have been here for only three months, she explained.
In the last decade, many changes have certainly occurred, but the French Community has always remained a dynamic and culturally vibrant community.
I appreciate the importance for a community to having a local point of contact and I act in consultation with the Consulate General of New York, she said.
Mrs Hazizas role involves helping French citizens obtain proper travel documents, registration of birth and marriage, as well as certification of documents.
Less typical, but as important a part of the role, is to assist the local authorities if there is a dispute on a boat involving French citizens, she said. I act as a local point of contact and report to the Consulate in New York.
Each intervention is unique and some require a bit of research and work to find the best possible solution.
When the former honorary consul Mrs Bonne-Smith was preparing to pass the torch, she passed on some useful advice to Mrs Haziza: Be prepared to expect the unexpected.
Mrs Haziza hopes to maintain strong ties with the French community here and is available by appointment once a week to recommend places and just have discussion in French.
Her office hours will be limited to Thursday mornings from 9am until noon, but she said many issues can typically be resolved by phone or e-mail. When it comes to the urgent matters, they usually require her to go directly to the site so office hours are not really required, she said.
The consulates website allows people to easily book appointments online and download necessary forms. It is written in both French and English to make it even more simple for people looking to renew their passport or apply for a visa.
She encourages French citizens to register with the consulate so they can receive information, e-mails and renew their travel documents more easily if they are registered.
She can be contacted by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Useful website: www.consulfrance-newyork.org/-English-.
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