Bonsoir Geneve| July 28, 2009
Well, yesterday was my last day at IBJ, so I'm packing up all that I've acquired over the past 10 weeks and running around getting some chocolate and other presents and getting ready to fly home tomorrow.
The last few weeks have been really busy, which has made the time fly pretty quickly. As I talked about in my last post, I've been working on getting together the Zimbabwe training, being held in Harare the last few days in August. It's been quite trying at times. My main assignment was to write a hypothetical situation, and there was a bit of a miscommunication between the home office and my understandings and our Zimbabwean fellow. For a law student, a hypothetical brings about thoughts of law school exams- windy fact patterns loaded with procedural issues and mistakes, focused mainly on constitutional rights abridgement and criminal procedure flaws. For our fellow, he was imagining a much different product- namely, a hypothetical focused on practical lawyering skills(how to conduct a cross and direct exam of a witness, etc).
After a rather harsh commentary and response from our fellow on what I had written (the result of which was a bit of a bruised ego on my part), we ironed out the problems with the help of a fantastic American federal public defender who is going to be running the training in Zimbabwe. The hypothetical I wrote will comprise the procedural issue presentation part of the training, along with the pre-training and post-training exams on the basic knowledge of the lawyers attending, and our federal defender will instruct on the trial skills. While it was challenging, it was a good experience- not just in terms of learning the law of Zimbabwe, but also learning the high cultural sensitivities that need to be at the forefront when doing this type of work. As my boss explained to me, Zimbabwean lawyers are extremely sensitive in the wake of Mugabe. Prior to his rule, Zimbabwean lawyers were known as the cream of the crop in Africa. The perception was greatly effected when Mugabe came in, namely because many of the best fled to other countries. So, not only did I learn about the Zimbabwean constitutional and criminal law system, I learned just how post-conflict settings require a great deal of sensitivity. I also learned that I need to toughen up a bit and not take criticism quite so personally. This has always been a work in progress. :)
Other than work, my last few weeks has been filled with fun adventures. I have gone to a jazz festival in Montreux, toured the vineyards in Aigle, a sweet little wine village about an hour north of Geneva, and paddled my way around Lake Annecy after going to one of the most amazing markets I have ever seen in the town. It's been great fun, but I'm so excited to come home! I hope you have all enjoyed the journey with me, and I look forward to seeing everyone soon!