Waterfronts, mountains and chocolate, a combination that could never go wrong for me. Europe has always been appealing to me due to the similarities with my home country, a former French colony. As such I was very excited to move to Geneva for the semester. I began my internship at the interagency division of the World Food Program in Geneva in the late summer of 2019. I arrived in this charming city, full of pretty lights, eager to discover the next five months and anxious about the work environment and the cultural differences of this tightly knitted community. The first piece of advice that I received upon arrival was “always be on time in Geneva, not too early and not too late, just right on time”. It was from the taxi driver who took me from the airport to my hotel, leaving me to ponder on these first words from a local.
This advice came to have such a greater meaning due to the entire city of Geneva working on a tightly timed balance that did not allow for disorganization. Particularly in the position that I held as an intern, I had the role to attend multiple meetings a day and to keep the office updated on partner activities in Geneva. My daily activities required a lot of movement across the city and the UN Palais des Nations where I sat across ambassadors, country representatives, and chairpersons. As such, timing was crucial to meet the busy requirements of meeting attendee schedules. Arriving even a minute late to a meeting could cost a report its entire significance. Soon enough, all my activities adapted to the Geneva style: disciplined, discreet and efficient.
My experience in Geneva was one of the most enriching times of my life, I expanded my network and learned valuable professional skills. Geneva now feels like a second home to me and I plan on using my connections to move back to Switzerland as soon as the opportunity presents itself upon graduation.
Makany Toure is an MPA/MAIR student currently working as a part time consultant at the World Bank and APCO Worldwide as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.