Author Archives: anahalka

Au revoir, Genève – Angelica

Now that I am back home and able to reflect on the past two months, I’m realizing how much I have learned and experienced throughout the course of my internship. In terms of giving me some direction professionally, my time with ICMHD was invaluable. It has allowed me to see what working in public health could entail, and how I may best contribute, especially in the earliest phases of what I’m hoping will become my career. More broadly, and perhaps even more importantly, it has renewed my determination to pick an occupation with which I will be able to do some “good.”

My internship has given me some insight into how this goal may be attained. One of my learning objectives was to understand, in greater detail, how NGOs and intergovernmental organizations can help in the pursuit of “development,” which I continue to associate with the alleviation of suffering, at least in part. My conversations at my internship, whether over lunch, or during a meeting or after a presentation, have exposed me to the complexity of doing so and the necessity of a combined effort on the part of citizens, governments, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and many other entities that have the potential to generate change. Sweeping measures do not seem to work when addressing the root of persistent development and public health issues. One of these issues, which I was able to learn more about through a presentation at my internship site, was the high rate of cesarean sections in many parts of the world. The reasons why so many women are opting for C-sections is not well understood, and likely vary from country to country, presenting a complicated and pressing issue to unravel. I would like to be part of the effort of answering these types of difficult questions in public health in the hope of better understanding that which influences our decisions regarding health.

With this idea in mind, I would like to continue to learn about research in public health, and contribute what I can when I return to New Orleans, and beyond. I would like to further investigate sources of inequality and how they influence health and well-being, a research topic I view as extremely relevant for study in New Orleans, a city suffering from great inequality with unique public health needs. I now feel I have more direction in my coursework as well as the work I plan to do outside the classroom to facilitate this.

My experiences in Geneva have also reinforced my determination to do as much abroad as possible. Seeing other parts of the world is incredibly rewarding and essential to understanding our increasingly globalizing and multicultural lives. Anyone interested in doing work that will have an impact on people outside of your own culture should seize opportunities to immerse oneself in life elsewhere. I’ve heard the importance of cultural literacy emphasized time and time again throughout my internship.

It is difficult to encompass the change I feel I have undergone and everything I have learned during my internship. I remain thankful to Newcomb College Institute and the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching, for making this experience attainable. I believe that experiences such as these are at the heart of what life as a college student should be. I don’t know when else I will have the opportunity to so freely explore my interests. This summer will truly be a defining moment in my life.

I can’t wait to return to Tulane and apply what I’ve learned at ICMHD and living in Geneva to life in NOLA (which will be quite soon, as I’m back in early August for RA training).

Until next time, Geneva!

A view from a hike in the Swiss Prealps.

A view from a hike in the Swiss Prealps.


My favorite spot to swim in Lac Léman, Baby Plage – “plage” is French for “beach.”


A picture I find representative of the clean, Calvinist-cool vibes of Geneva’s old town.


Another delightful spot in the Old Town.


St. Pierre Cathedral. My hostel was located right across the square from it. It’s bells ring every 15 minutes. One ding for the 15th minute of the hour, two for the 30th and three for the 45th. Surprisingly, I and many others at the hostel did not find this annoying, except on Sundays when the bells would ring for a solid 10 minutes, from 9:50 until 10 a.m. I had to, however, appreciate being so close to such a beautiful, historic building.

Three weeks to go in Geneva, no signs of slowing down – Angelica

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.

Week One with the ICMHD – Angelica Nahalka


Entrance to ICMHD

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.

Intern workspace

Intern workspace

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.

View of Geneva from Mt. Salève

View of Geneva from Mt. Salève

One of the many drinking water-quality fountains located throughout city

One of the many fountains spouting —eau potable- (drinking water), located throughout city


International Development Research in Geneva

I’m Angelica Nahalka, a rising sophomore planning to major in Public Health, International Development, and French. I am traveling all the way to Switzerland this summer to be an intern at the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring the health and wellbeing of migrants across the world. Through research, training and policy advocacy, they give governments, UN agencies and any other interested parties the tools they need to improve the welfare of those affected by migration.

I am going to be assisting with the research-based aspect of the ICMHD’s mission. While I don’t have my specific tasks planned out yet, interns at the ICMHD generally conduct research on one of the organization’s many projects all over Europe, Africa and Asia, and attend meetings with its partners. This will be an exciting and invaluable opportunity to experience the work that goes into planning development interventions and what being a development actor might entail.

I will also have the incredible, and undoubtedly instructive experience of living on my own in a foreign country. I have just gotten my living arrangements set up, and will be sharing a room with another 18-to-30 year-old woman in a youth hostel located in the Geneva’s picturesque “old-town” area. I hope to improve my French while I’m in Geneva, and am planning to spend the next few weeks learning some basic German.

In terms of how I got this internship, the message here is that it never hurts to ask. Originally, I wanted to participate in Tulane’s Geneva Summer for Development program, where students also intern for two weeks with the ICMHD. After realizing I wouldn’t be able to afford to go, I asked my Intro to International Development professor, Dr. Colin Crawford, who will be an instructor for the program, if the ICMHD would be willing to take me on as an independent intern. I am thrilled that everything worked out and am ready to develop my research, language and professional skills while I’m in Geneva.