First week in Geneva!
Switzerland has been a special place to me ever since I watched the movie The Sound of the Music when I was in Elementary school. It was the place that provided refuge for Maria, Captain Georg and the seven children during WWII. Had there been no Switzerland, they would have lived under Nazi’s threatening. 15 years passed, I still vividly remember how relieved I felt when Maria and her family crossed the mountain and reached Swiss board. In my heart, Switzerland means peace and happiness. With all these sweet words for Switzerland being said, five minutes after landing at Geneva, I started to miss US, where space is never a problem and everyone speaks English. When the custom officer used French to greet me, I was reminded of my trip to Paris three years ago. All the amazing tourism sites in Paris made the trip wonderful, except the facts that local people stick with speaking French, and that even a person speaking very fine French would not be accepted half as well as a person speaking broken English in America would be, so long as the person does not look like native French. Fortunately, Geneva, as a very internationalized city, is not Paris! I was very upset to find in the markets that though some products have instructions in three languages, none is English, but it was a comfort that when I lost my way on the first day and asked people for directions, four out of five could speak some English! Anyway, I swore on the first day that this is my first and also my last time to live in any place as expensive as Geneva. A week passed and this swear has not changed.
I went to IBJ’s Geneva office on Tuesday around noon. It has interns coming from all over the world: Grace, Brazil, Singapore, UK, Canada, America, Switzerland, and after I joined in, plus China. Each of us worked on different projects. I was asked to update Defense Wiki’s China page, make slides summarizing in depth IBJ’s work and accomplishments in China, and continue assisting with the work of IBJ’s Beijing office. I attended an interview where IBJ’s founder Karen introduced IBJ’s mission and work again – to provide early council for criminal suspects, and the end of the game is to have local governments take over the work. This is a very basic goal, yet every country is in some degree of need of it. When people ask me what organization I am working at in Geneva, they usually would guess a department of UN, and I would answer that it is a small organization, with about 15 people including the interns. But I never feel the value of what IBJ and I’m working is decided by the office’s size, and with all the complaints about the cost of living in Geneva and the inconvenience brought by not being able to speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian, I still want to say that I like this summer’s work and Switzerland’s sweet image in my heart has not changed!