IX. Miscellaneous Projects

IBJ's cohort of interns

IBJ hired quite a few summer interns, which made lunch quite a nice routine. Most of the interns would walk down to the lake and sit in the shade of a tree and eat lunch. We would frequently go as a group to Parfums de Beyrouth, a local favorite Lebanese restaurant. Other times, we would go to Migros, a grocery store chain, for pre-made food. With so many interns, there were also frequently celebrations for each intern’s last day at the office. The routine usually included shopping for food and drinks for the party, setting up the conference room, then the festivities would begin. Karen would read a poem for each person and give them a gift. Most of her gifts came from a local jeweler. Each person would also go around the room and share one of their favorite memories of that person. The last part of the celebration would include eating and mingling until the office closed at 5.

Youth Manifesto

Several high school students collaborated on a project this summer titled the “Youth Manifesto” where they drafted a list of rights that they believe to be immutable and universal to all youth. These included the right against state-sanctioned torture, the right for youth to never be tried as an adult, the right to legal counsel, to give a few examples. Abi and I were asked to proofread their work and provide substantive critiques. To be frank, I struggled with this assignment, because I do not want to perpetuate western imperialist ideology, which I felt that this project did in some ways.

The manifesto cited the UN’s standards on human rights, which is inherently a western imperialist perspective. The point of this manifesto is to have other youth leaders around the world sign on pledging their solidarity with IBJ’s Youth Manifesto. Because of the desire to placate, many of the decisions were made based upon what other youth leaders would likely sign onto, instead of what justice for youth should actually be. It is so easy working in the human rights sector to get bogged down with a paternalistic, western imperialist perspective, so I tried to goad the conversation away from that route. Unfortunately, many human rights oriented organizations center their standards around those of the UN.

More adventures outside of work

Every year, Montreux, a city on le Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) holds a well-attended and famous jazz festival. This year's headliners included John Legend, Diana Ross, and Phoebe Bridgers. While I did not have the opportunity to make it to Montreux for the festival, I did venture across the lake with several fellow interns. We walked along the shore where merchants sold their wares and beautiful restaurants and bars lined the streets. Part of the adventure included pictures in front of the Freddie Mercury statue. Freddie Mercury lived in Montreux for several years and recorded some of Queen’s music there.

We also took a tour of the Chateau de Chillion. The castle has served many different purposes, but today it stands as a tour attraction. From inside the castle, the lake is visible through the windows. We spent an hour or so getting lost inside the castle before venturing back to Montreux where we found a lovely bar to relax at before catching the train back to Geneva.

For Abi's birthday, we planned a trip to Naples in southern Italy. Naples is the birthplace of pizza, so obviously, we indulged in the local cuisine. While in Naples, we toured the Catacombs of San Gennaro, which was both eerie and informative. During our stay, we used the local bus system and walked all over the city. Naples is the third largest city in Italy with around a million people. We learned from a local that they do not pay for public transit in Naples. She said it was a way of rebelling against the government who has failed them so frequently. Speaking of their government, a week before our arrival in Naples, the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, resigned. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy was hit very hard and their healthcare system was utterly devastated. The EU had provided billions of euros to help stabilize their healthcare system, with the caveat that they would get their financial situation in order. During his time as Prime Minister, Draghi won a vote of confidence, but then resigned due to political opposition preventing him from passing needed legislation. 

Our stay in Italy was very quick, but the cherry on top was the bed and breakfast we stayed in. Abi's parents paid for a weekend stay at a bed and breakfast for her birthday. Italy was incredibly humid, so staying in a place with air conditioning was delightful. Part of the BNB also included a breakfast at a resto lounge right outside. On our last full day, we took a train further south to Sorrento. We spent our day there eating incredible seafood and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. We captured a gorgeous view of Mount Vesuvius. Our stay may have been short lived, but we had an unforgettable experience.