By Alexandra Paucescu.
The first thing you notice at Paloma is her warm smile. She is kind and full of life, with a graceful attitude and colourful clothes. She has that air of a fulfilled woman, confident in herself and who knows well who she is and how much she is worth.
I’ve met her first at a farewell party for a fellow diplomatic spouse, as we are all called, placed into a category that tends to uniform us under a generic name, often lacking any deep personal identity enquiry.
Born in beautiful Spanish town of Salamanca, Paloma Muñoz de la Fuente is so much more than just a diplomatic spouse.
She studied Economics in Zaragoza, taught at the University of Toledo, she then perfected herself in the art of protocol, which was useful later in her career and also accompanying her husband in diplomatic missions in United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
Later in life (year 2000) she discovered her talent and love for painting, changed her public name to Paloma Ferrari (a tribute to her late Italian grandfather), fulfilled her artistic dreams and achieved high performance and recognition (many exhibitions four art awards), all these while travelling around the world with her husband.
Alexandra: I know you are from Spain, but what is HOME to you, Paloma?
Paloma: Every place we have lived in so far was home to me, because I made it. Home is a place where I feel peaceful together with my family and surrounded by my favourite books and some other few things that I carry with me everywhere. But I have to admit Tuscany in Italy is a place very dear to my heart.
Alexandra: What triggered your professional reconversion, tell me how did it actually happen?
Paloma: It all came quite naturally, I admit. Art lives inside me, in my head and heart, it always has been.
Alexandra: Was it hard? I know from my own experience that pursuing a career while being constantly on the move can be difficult, if not almost impossible…
Paloma: To me it just happened. In 2000 we moved to Florence, Italy and by a happy coincidence I had the privilege to study Arts with two of the best art teachers. I learned new techniques: Antique (Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo style) and Japanese drawing art. Both of them became complementary for my future art work, for the next 20 years. I had my first collection in Florence in 2002 at Palazzo di Parte Guelfa, and from there a whole world of opportunities opened. My art work took me to Venice, Madrid, Toledo, Mexico and Berlin, just to name a few places where I exhibited over the years. In 2004 I also started studying contemporary art and collaborated with interior designers and architects for various projects. Later I had the idea to hand paint scarves in unique styles, and this project is still going on, my scarves are ‘flying’ all over the world now.
Alexandra: Tell me of your proudest moments in your professional career…
Paloma: All my exhibitions were pieces of my heart and very dear to me. Each had a special theme and title and reflected different interests (‘The silk way’, ‘Itaca’). They were expressions of my constant evolution as an artist. But my most important exhibition was in Toledo (Spain), in the old monastery of San Clemente. Imagine, that beautiful, huge historical building…just for me and my art works. The theme was ‘Opera Mundi’ and it was a triumphant success also in media.
Alexandra: Which do you think are some of the most common misconceptions that people usually have about us, the diplomatic spouses?
Paloma: People always expect to see us elegant, cultivated, open and easy to adapt to new postings and situations, which is not always true…
Alexandra: Could you name what are, in your opinion, some ‘MUST Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for a diplomatic spouse?
Paloma: As a diplomatic spouse I think it is important to speak as many languages as you can, to have empathy and a little sense of serendipity. On the other hand, I would say that impatience, indiscretion and clumsiness could be your greatest enemies in the diplomatic circles.
Alexandra: Do you have a life motto to live by?
Paloma: Always live life with optimism, see the best in everything! ***
Indeed, optimism is a great attitude! World of diplomacy is full of highly trained, intellectual, talented women, diplomatic spouses that not only follow their husbands around the world, but they also represent with great honour their countries, often using their natural cultural diplomatic skills, from which the Foreign Service can only benefit.
About the author:
Alexandra Paucescu- Romanian, Management graduate with a Master in Business, studied Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations.
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian. Turned diplomatic spouse by the age of 30, she published a book about diplomatic life, writes articles and also gives lectures on intercultural communication.