It is hard to believe this was my last week in Switzerland. I wish I could put into words just how blessed I feel to have had this opportunity. The memories I made here are some of the best of my life, and I know I will carry the life lessons I learned here with me forever.
It felt very strange to say goodbye to everyone at IBJ. The majority of interns left this week so we had a going away “gathering” to celebrate each person’s next step as well as reflect on our experiences throughout the summer. I spent the majority of the week finishing up the remaining preparations for the Rwanda training and meeting with the final few interns who are staying after I leave to give them a recap of what projects will still need to be completed. During our meetings, I kept thinking about how much I learned from each of my colleagues this summer. Our group was very diverse. Collectively we represented over 10 different countries and spoke at least five different languages. We were all different ages and at different stages in our careers and education. Our backgrounds may have been anything but similar but we all shared one common trait: a passion for serving others. Being surrounded by a group that cared so deeply about correcting injustice and bettering the lives of those who have truly lost their voice was enriching and inspiring. I grew not only professionally but personally simply by having the opportunity to be surrounded by such an outstanding group of leaders. Reflecting on what I want moving forward in my career, I realized that the most important aspect for me in a workplace is the people. IBJ’s collaborative and supportive culture is one that I will actively seek out in a workplace for the rest of my career. I truly feel like each individual I worked with this summer is now a member of my family and our friendship will continue to grow even after I have returned to the states.
I had a moment on my last day to look back through all of the work I did this summer and organize it for the next intern who would be taking over. It was interesting to see how varied the work I completed was. I have said it before but one thing I really love about IBJ is the level of substantive work interns have the opportunity to complete. From drafting employment contracts to writing a training manual to crafting grant applications to editing technical documents for attorneys in China, I never would have imagined I would be learning so much about so many different areas of the law in just one summer. The best part is, I am just one person! Every intern at IBJ had the opportunity to work on an equal amount and range of projects during their summer experience. That fact alone shows you just how much IBJ does. IBJ is a machine. Every individual who works for IBJ gives 110% at all times and I cannot wait to watch IBJ grow and expand. IBJ has already touched so many lives but I truly believe the possibilities are endless for this organization and I feel so proud to be able to be a part of it for life. The staff at IBJ like to say that once you work there you are an “IBJer” forever. This is clearly true considering how many previous interns returned this summer just to help out for a day or two while vacationing or traveling for work. I think for me this is something that I am really looking forward to. No matter where I end up in this world, I know I will always make an effort to return to Geneva and return to my IBJ home.
It is going to be rather surreal returning to Williamsburg. There are some things I am looking forward to such as stores staying open past 6pm, seeing my friends, and chick fil a. But I know I will miss this beautiful city more than I ever imagined I would. I fell in love with the people. I fell in love with the food. I fell in love with the view of the crystal clear lake surrounded by endless mountains that never seems to get old. I fell in love with the feeling of learning something new every moment of every day. I fell in love with the simplicity of traveling in Europe and the endless amount of opportunities to explore. I fell in love, and leaving something you love is never easy. Geneva in so many ways has become my home and I think a part of me will always remain there. It has been the summer of a lifetime and I am a different person because of it. I will never be able to say thank you enough to everyone who made this summer possible for me. The past ten weeks have changed my life and I will be forever grateful.
I suppose it is obvious that my low is having to leave this incredible place. My high however, is knowing that this is not really goodbye. I will be back.
So until next time,