How Director Pascale Fabre is using her vast experience to invigorate this famous French institution
By Ruth Gerson
Pascale Fabre, the current director of Alliance Française in Bangkok, is a remarkable woman who juggles a successful career as cultural director alongside her husband’s diplomatic career as the Belgian Ambassador in Thailand, and her family life.
Arriving in Thailand in 2017, the couple managed to coordinate their flourishing careers and secure desirable positions in the same country – in Thailand, a notable feat, but it did not start out that way.
A French national, Pascale met her husband in Poland when working at the French Embassy (1995-1998), while her husband served there as First Counselor at the Belgian Embassy.They married in 1998 and had to forgo a honeymoon as duty called.
The Belgian government had plans for Pascale’s husband to return to Brussels and Pascale resigned from her position to follow him. That meant she had to look for a new job in a new country. As luck would have it, there was an opening at the Alliance Française. However, the description for the job required it to be a man aged 55-60 with much experience, and there came Pascale, a woman and just 32 years of age.
Four years on, in 2002, there came the time to move again, and this time the couple was offered to coordinate their ‘wish list’ of prospective countries for employment, and Singapore won out. Pascale admits that her success in Brussels “helped her get her way.” With a smile, she recalls her work in Singapore as challenging and interesting, made easier for being an English speaking country.
Then one day in 2005 came a phone call asking Pascale to manage the Alliance Française in Paris, at the time the largest Alliance office in the world. There she became the director of the school while her husband was appointed Belgian ambassador to France.
After five years, the couple was on the move again - this time to New York, to the UNESCO offices. Still unemployed, Pascale went to register her son at the New York UN school and was hired on the spot to teach French and fill in the position of a teacher who had then recently resigned. In time, she became head of the language department overseeing 60 teachers who were teaching nine languages.
In 2003 came a phone call again, this time for the husband, while on holiday in Spain, from the Belgian Royal Palace. The Belgian king had abdicated in favor of his son, and Pascale’s husband was summoned to the palace to be interviewed by the new king for the position of Grand Chamberlain to manage the work program of their Majesties the King and the Queen of the Belgians as well as the administration of Brussels’ Royal Palace.
Pascale found work immediately running CLL, the largest language school in Belgium from where 39 languages are taught worldwide.
After three years in Belgium, the couple was eager to venture out into the world again. Looking at the list of available job opportunities for both, Thailand came up, a position that Pascale’s husband filled in December of 2016 with her following him in the summer of 2017 after their son’s graduation from high school in Belgium.
Although highly qualified in her field of work, Pascale says that luck has worked in her favor. In Bangkok, she moved into the temporary facilities of Alliance Française on Wireless Road, constructed in 2013 giving way to the new and modern structure nearby built on Crown Property that was opened officially by H.R.H. Princess Sirindhorn in October 2018.
Overseeing the construction of the new facility from the ground up, seeing it rise stage by stage, Pascale has a close affinity to this new and attractive new structure.
Pascale tries to add activities to the already rich and varied program of the Alliance Française. In her words it is, “a place for cultural diversity and exchange dialogue between cultures.” Pascale proudly shows visitors the various facilities this organization has, including a Francophone floor that displays the different nations that are members of the Francophonie (French speaking countries), the first such in the world.