First Week in Geneva| May 28, 2011
I arrived in Geneva last Thursday via a 7 hour plane ride from northern Virginia to London and then a 2 hour trip from London to Geneva. Upon arrival, I discovered that, contrary to the comforting assurances of everyone at home, most people in Geneva do not speak English. I know how to say "Je suis perdu" (I'm lost) and "Ou est le gare?" (where is the train station?). But I don't understand a single thing they say in response. Thus, I spent my first five hours in Geneva taking an inadvertent scenic tour of the city with two suitcases, a backpack and my laptop. It's a good thing the weather was so beautiful. However, I did meet several people who had no idea what I was saying, but were very kind and tried to direct me.
The lady who has been so kind as to put me up for the summer works for the UN and has a nice sixteen year old son. They took me out to an authentic Swiss restaurant - which, I guess, usually means fondue. But since it was so hot, I had a local fish caught from Lake Leman instead which was amazing. The lady's home is in Bellevue, a little village that is technically part of Geneva, but is out of the central city. There's a view of the lake from my bedroom window.
Switzerland, as a whole, is known for its lakes and its mountains. Geneva encircles Lake Leman: several miles of waters as clear as air. On Friday, while touring the city, I took a boat tour on the lake and saw the Jet d'Eau - a fountain that can shoot water as high as 295 feet. I walked through the Cathedrale de St-Pierre (St. Peter's Cathedral), which dates back to 1160 AD, and climbed 157 steps to the very top of the North Tower from which you can see the entire city. There was a huge park with life sized chess boards, old Roman mosaics, and chocolate shops and watch shops everywhere.
On Monday I started work at 10 o'clock. It seems that the Swiss start work a little later than we do at home. IBJ's office is four rooms: a board room, the director's office, and two rooms for everyone to sit and work in. It's such a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that I felt at ease immediately. I am the first intern of the summer to arrive - three of the current interns are set to leave Geneva next week. I spent most of Monday reviewing the files, setting up my computer and email, and learning about the programs I would be working on. I am to work on IBJ's eLearning program: legal defense mini courses created for lawyers in developing countries with few resources. On Tuesday I actually got to edit one of these educational websites - defensewiki.ibj.org (which was really cool - I've never done internet work before).
I look forward to continuing work and seeing what comes of it.