I have concluded my first week as an intern at the International Centre for Migration, Health, and Development extremely excited to be spending the next two months taking advantage of the amazing opportunities Geneva has to offer. At the ICMHD, I will be creating research reports on projects the organization is currently undertaking. My first assignment is to create a literature review of rare cancer research, as the ICMHD is looking to become involved in a related project.
In terms of the environment at the ICMHD, the organization is located in a house right outside Geneva (complete with balconies perfect for enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having). I have met much of the ICMHD staff and was pleasantly surprised by their friendliness and the pleasant atmosphere at the office. Stretches of time spent researching are broken with long lunches where everyone gathers to eat a home-cooked meal prepared by an ICMHD staff member. I have found these lunches excellent opportunities to ask questions and learn about the experiences of those at the ICMHD, many of whom have been extensively involved with organizations such as the UN and WHO.
In my spare time, I am putting together a journal club presentation, which involves describing the findings, methods etc. of research published in an academic journal, which is followed by a discussion of the article. The journal club is a new fixture at the ICMHD, and my presentation will be the first to take place. I am going to present an article describing research conducted on the connections between gender, environment and migration in communities located in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan.
Outside my internship, I have many opportunities to interact with other interns working at the many NGOs and intergovernmental organizations of Geneva. A group called the Geneva Interns Association organizes hikes and nights out for interns, and most people I have met at my hostel, located in Geneva’s old town are also interns. Meeting so many new people reminds me a bit of the fist few weeks of freshman year, this time in addition to “what’s your name, where are you from?” is almost always tacked on, “where are you interning?”
Talking to other interns gives me a new perspective on entering fields like public health and politics, and working for NGOs in the international arena. Much of what my fellow interns have to say is heavy with disillusionment regarding the work of the UN, WHO and the countless NGOs based in Geneva. While everyone is thrilled with the professional opportunities of interning in this city (and the chance to literally frolic in the French Prealps, as I did last weekend), we are beginning to understand the immense work chipping away at the global humanitarian crises requires, and that these agencies are not the solve-all entities we wish they were.
From making connections with the various intergovernmental organizations and nonprofits, to visiting chocolate factories and hiking, my time here is going to shape up to be the best entrance into professional life I could ask for. Even if everything I hear isn’t positive, I came here looking to better understand the complexities of humanitarian work so I can one day have the skills to aid in these efforts. I am immensely excited and grateful to spend the next two months working towards achieving this goal.