It all started with Girl Guides.
Susanne Taron, who graduated from Clearwater Secondary School in 2000, is now working for the United Nations in Bonn, Germany.
Interestingly, Taron’s first international experience came as a member of Girl Guides in Clearwater.
“This provided both a foundation and sparked further interest in travel,” she said.
After graduating from CSS, Taron attended University of Calgary. She completed a double major Bachelor’s degree in international relations and geography.
While working on her undergraduate degree, she took a number of international field schools with the Geography faculty, which provided an opportunity to study in a number of countries ranging from large countries such as China and Russia to the smallest villages in countries such as Latvia and Cambodia.
“These were amazing opportunities which I appreciate and value to this day. They also provided me with the necessary soft skills I require in my job on a daily basis,” she said.
“In January 2005, I moved to Germany to start my Master’s degree in European studies. The Master’s program was a joint university collaboration and required me to attend classes in Germany and in the Netherlands.”
Taron ended up getting two master’s degrees. The first was in European Studies/Public Administration from the University of Munster in Germany. The second was in European studies/public administration from University of Twente in the Netherlands.
“After graduating, I began working as an intern for the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Center located in Bonn, Germany,” Taron continued. “Upon completion, I was offered a position with the center as a project assistant.”
In 2009, as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat was building up for the Conference of the Parties held in Copenhagen that year, she began working as a documents management assistant for the conference services program.
Since that time, she has moved to different teams and units within the organization.
This has spanned from quality management to her current post as team assistant for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) registry. The CDM registry is an electronic database managed by the secretariat, in which CERs (carbon emission reductions) are issued and from which CERs are forwarded, transferred and cancelled.
Taron said she works with colleagues and clients from all over the world. She described it as a truly unique environment, which can be at times challenging and demanding, but also incredibly rewarding.
Taron met her future husband while studying German in Switzerland.
The couple have a two-year-old daughter, Ada, and expect a second baby girl in September.
“The biggest challenge for me these days is raising my daughter, Ada, bilingually,” Taron said. “The opposite opportunities exist for her to learn English. For this reason, I have helped found an English speaking mothers playgroup in Cologne, which provides an opportunity for children to learn English in a closed environment.”
Their daughter attends a Waldorf Kindergarten, which emphasizes (among other things) that parents take a large responsibility for being present and caring for the child.
The family currently lives in Cologne. Taron’s husband works as a financial consultant for Boston Consulting Group in Dusseldorf, which is located north of Cologne. Her job with UNFCCC is located in Bonn, which is to the south. They both commute to work by train (each roughly one hour).
“Cologne is a vibrant city and has loads of opportunities on offer for small families,” she observed.
After living several years in major European cities, what does she now think of her home town?
“Clearwater is a hidden gem, and I think those who live there often forget this at times,” she said. “It offers peace, tranquility and ease of life. I am very proud of my home town and I mention it at every given opportunity. People often have not heard of it, but on occasion I will meet those who have travelled to and recall Wells Grey Park.”
Taron said that growing up in Clearwater, as contradictory as it might sound, provided her with opportunities to work with teams and people.
“I got involved a lot back home. I took interest in all sorts of activities as diverse as high school sports, to after school clubs to community activities such as Girl Guides and 4-H. All in all, small towns require you to get involved, which means there are also more opportunities to lend a hand and to volunteer,” she said.
“Of course, small towns also offer fewer things to do, which to some may be seen as a disadvantage,” she added. “However, as often in life, sometimes less is more. Fewer things to do means freedom to do more. While there aren’t as many places to hang out or events to attend, you have more time to pick up a hobby or learn a new skill and really work at it. In addition, there is certainly less competition in small towns to do what you love.”
Does she have any messages for young people growing up in Clearwater?
“Seize opportunities as they come. Get involved, experience and learn! Everything else will fall in place.”
First inset photo shows the top floors of the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany, where Susanne Taron works. The building next to the Rhine River was formerly the West German parliament.
Second photo is of Susanne Taron sitting at a table in the conference centre’s meeting room.