Summer School in Switzerland

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The Principle’s Go-Abroad helped me fund my two-week summer school on ‘International Affairs, Trade and Multilateral Governance’ at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. I have always been passionate about such topics as development, aid and humanitarianism and have a strong interest in pursuing an international career after I conclude my studies at Edinburgh. As a result, I figured this was the perfect chance to test the waters outside of my university career as a History undergraduate at one of the most respected graduate institutions in the world.

Whilst in Switzerland, I was fortunate enough to stay with my extended family in Lausanne (a comfortable train ride away from Geneva). My aim for the two weeks was not only to gain a great insight into international affairs but also to improve my French by categorically refusing to speak English with my family! With exceptions only being made on very few occasions! I can conclude this endeavour was a success, despite the relatively short timeframe. In fact I found, as many others will, speaking a foreign language is the most difficult part of language learning, but it’s the confidence you gain from trying, erring and perfecting that makes the process invaluable!

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Our course finished with the Participants and staff celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the summer programme.

Our days at the institute began promptly (being in Switzerland this was expected!) at 9.15am. They consisted of a variety of three-hour seminars from the History of International Organisations to the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and its functioning to Global Migration and Global Water Governance. Most of the professors on the course are at the forefront of their respective fields, such as Khalid Koser, who is the Chair of the World Economic Forum and Davide Rodogno, head of International History at the Institute; so we knew what we were getting in terms of information was extremely valuable. Professor Gilles Carbonnier led my favourite class on Global Aid. An economist by training, he drew from various subject areas to produce an interdisciplinary approach to a subject that has traditionally been associated with politics rather than economics. His class inspired me, as it gave me a window into the world of economics and its application in the ever-expanding humanitarian sector. His approach, I believe, is more applicable than ever as immediate humanitarian relief is increasingly coinciding with a greater desire for ensuring long-term development of such affected communities. Humanitarian economics is definitely something I am willing to read into much more now and hopefully integrating this into my future studies. With regards to this unexpected interest in economics, upon reflection, I have realised that my time at university has been invaluable in terms of broadening my interests and has enabled me to be more open to subjects I traditionally overlooked such as this one.

Alongside these seminars, we were given a guided tour of the United Nations and a talk at the ICRC (International Red Cross and Red Crescent) Movement about the functioning and legal processes under which the ICRC operates around the world.

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Presentation of our certificates in the classroom

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Palais des Nations – UN

We also partook in UN resolution simulations, and brainstorming activities and came up with strategies for various policies to do with environment, health and corruption. It was in these brainstorming classes and seminar discussions where we were able to appreciate different participants’ points of view. In fact, participants were a mix of students and professionals, of various ages and ethnicities, so much so that a wealth of ideas could be exchanged and long-lasting connections made. This exchange of ideas was not merely restricted to the classroom as I had the honour to get to know other members better through organised social events set up by the Institute such as dinners and a Saturday excursion to the beautiful town of Montreux on the other side of Lake Geneva. As a result, I now have friends from various backgrounds, ranging from Argentina to Turkey, waiting for me to visit them!

It was an amazing summer school that has helped me focus my goals in terms of career paths and provide options for future studies after Edinburgh. Would highly recommend this brilliant course to any people passionate about an international career and who want to really know the ins and outs of the challenges our world and international organizations face today.

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The team at Les Bains de Pâquis, an artificial beach extending out into Lake Geneva.

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