By Chantel Sciore, Professional Services
“Before the event, [Libya] appeared to be a safe country with no real problems to travel in cities like Benghazi or Tripoli,” says Loic Didillon (EP) as he recalls his experience working in Libya prior to the uprising against Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi. “Sometimes we would go to the beach, or eat ‘sharma’ in downtown Benghazi. People were very friendly, and liked to learn and discover.”
The SNC-Lavalin Environmental Manager from Montreal was evacuated from Libya over a ten day period after working for a year on lake rehabilitation and environmental identification for an oil and gas project.
“It is difficult to express what I experienced during the evacuation,” says Didillon. “It is like you have another level of consciousness. When I describe the situation, it is like describing another life or a movie.”
After arriving safely in Montreal, Didillon says experiencing the revolt was like “a change of world and reality. The event was like a bad dream.” He describes being happy to leave the country, but also sad to know there is so much violence elsewhere. “Libyan co-workers are still there and you cannot do anything to help them.”
Despite the rebellion, Didillon believes his experience in Libya provided a greater understanding for conducting Environmental Management abroad.
“Before the insurrection, Libya was an ideal place to learn respect, tolerance, and patience; sometimes you need to adapt to facts you don’t understand, or you do not agree with.”
He adds, “For many years I’ve talked about adaptation and emergency response—now, I know what an emergency situation actually is and I can manage it; I am definitely adaptable.”
From an environmental perspective, Didillon says although Libya is attempting to evolve as a new country, it still has a ways to go. “Everything needs to be rebuilt, like the waste water treatment and the sewage system. Public transportation does not exist and is also a challenge to face in the future.”
In terms of upcoming career opportunities, Didillon is unsure of where he will be relocated; however, operating in Libya reinforced his desire to experience multiculturalism, and to conciliate the environment with today's economic constraints.
“I hope to obtain a position with more management and people interaction. I would like to continue to discover new cultures.”