With a month behind me at my internship with the International Center for Migration, Health and Development, I am beginning to see how much I have gained from my time here. Back in April, I drafted my learning goals with the intent of taking full advantage of the vast opportunities that surround me in Geneva. I have striven to do so, and find that seizing these opportunities always pays off, whether they be weekend trips to France or conversations with (initially) intimidating superiors. These experiences let me know I am progressing in achieving what initially brought me to Geneva: the chance to explore my interests and gain concrete knowledge of the ~working world~ towards which I am headed, and to shake off the uncertainties that may prevent me from embracing possibilities that come my way.
One of my learning goals was to better understand the role NGO’s and intergovernmental organizations play in “international development.” My understanding of this much-used term has been expanded from my experiences speaking with those at the ICMHD and other interns at a variety of organizations, from other non-profits to the UN. From understanding the UN bureaucratic system, to possessing deep knowledge of a culture, I am learning about many of the factors that influence the efficacy of “development” ventures. This is valuable knowledge in my pocket, which I am able to reflect upon when I (force myself to) write down my experiences so they may inform the work I may be doing one day.
Making connection others which allow me to having such conversations is something I am proud of since I have a tendency towards being reserved. I have met some amazing people in Geneva, from whom I have learned so much (it also doesn’t hurt that I’ve also had some incredible times with them). Those around us have incredible stories to tell and it always pays to listen. Since many of the other interns I meet are older have much more experience than I have (most are masters students), I am learning so much about their experiences, what they would have done differently, experiences that have shaped them etc. Not only am I seeing the possibilities for my future, but I am seeing how a passion for promoting human rights can play out in people’s lives. Many of the interns I meet are driven by a desire to do good and experience as much of the world as possible. This only reaffirms my own desire to do so, which will help drive me through my future pursuits, especially as I continue to be involved in the Tulane and New Orleans community.
I am seeing that the skills I am gaining here will be invaluable after I leave Geneva. On the professional lean of life, I am currently working on gathering information for an ICMHD project aiming to create a comprehensive source of knowledge on rare cancers in Europe. The depth of research I have had to learn to do will help me in much of my academic career within itself. Seeing the work that goes into such a project on many different levels will inform my understanding of public health project, which will ultimately be essential to my ability to work in this field. It is a sizable project, which I have learned to break into pieces as I work towards wrapping up this task. Long-term projects have always been a challenge for me, but I will be far more confident approaching them after this experience.
Finally, I can’t say enough about how living on my own (or at least to a greater extent than I ever have before) has helped me become better organized, better with money and more comfortable with the prospect of being a full-fledged independent. I’m on a tight budget but have managed to feed myself, I have experienced a lot of what Geneva has to offer and can already see myself handing dorm life much more effectively than in the bumbling phases of freshman year.
To boot, being abroad in a city as international as Geneva has allowed me to interact with people from an incredible range of backgrounds, which will give me invaluable knowledge of other cultures and worldviews. I have a greater understanding of the experiences that shape others and have thus expanded my view of those who differ from me.
In other news, my computer crashed recently, so I don’t have any pictures to share right now, but will be sure to upload some as soon as I can. Time previously devoted to Netflixing, however, is now spent hanging out in the hostel’s communal kitchen talking to very cool people, or wandering Geneva’s exceedingly charming old town. Which will always be a plus.