William and Mary Law School

La Maison des Paons

When I first arrived in Geneva, my roommate Nicole--the sweetest woman you will ever meet--picked me up from the airport and showed me how to get to the apartment. As we were approaching our street, she pointed to a gigantic white building with weird orange bulbs on top. "If you ever get lost," she said, "find la maison des paons, the peacock building."

On the first Sunday of every month museums in Geneva are free, so I went on an excursion around the city last Sunday visiting as many museums as possible. When I was too exhausted to walk, I started heading home. The only problem was I had no idea which direction "home" was in.

Geneva streets are tricky. There are lots of intersections with roundabouts, streets will suddenly change names without warning, and those tiny blue plaques with street names are nowhere to be found when you really need them. With few options, I just started walking in what I thought was the correct direction. After about thirty minutes of confused wandering, I remembered Nicole's advice. Find the peacock! I looked up to the sky and sure enough, that gorgeously outrageous building shot out of the sky. My North Star.

At work today, my weekend adventure got me thinking. I am writing a grant proposal, something I have never done before, and when I first started drafting it, I wasn't sure if I was approaching it correctly. I felt lost, and I needed something to point me in the right direction. And then it hit me. Find the peacock!

It sounds absurd, I know, but I realized the best way to write the proposal is to make it stick out, like la maison des paons. I need to show why IBJ is special: its dedication to countries that are not priorities on donor lists but nonetheless suffer grave human rights abuses; its perseverance despite the overwhelming prevalence of torture in criminal justice systems all over the world; and most importantly, its ability to bring conflicting voices from the community together to create a dialogue between the prosecutors and the prosecuted. Once I had my inspiration, I had a draft done in no time. 

That gaudy building once again pointed me in the right direction.

mdp