Das Tor News

Geneva Winterim

By: Leah Funk, Guest Writer

Like many of my fellow T-birds, I spent (some of December and) most of January flitting around different countries and cities for my Winterim. As an MA I chose the Geneva Winterim for my cultural experience, and while its focus was international and multilateral organizations, we got much more than that. Before I start I feel like a shout-out to our amazing TA, Sylvia Imbrock, is necessary. She really helped solidify the meetings and get us around when some of us didn’t know a word of French. We really got to experience a wider spectrum of organizations than expected: from CERN and UEFA to the UN refugee agency and the International Telecommunications Union. As great as many of our visits were, in my opinion the best moment involved the speaker from UNCTAD (UN Conference on Trade and Development). Not only did we get a behind-the-scenes tour of the UN (seriously, how often are you going to get to stand on the stage in the Assembly Hall? I’m giddy just remembering it), he also told of fascinating letters he found from the League of Nations archive in the library, and then he regaled us with stories of the peacocks that live on the UN grounds.

Photo Courtesy of Funk
Photo Courtesy of Funk

Aside from the UN, visiting CERN and one of the experiments involving the LHC is definitely in my top 5 of best moments from Geneva. I’m sure every single one of us has a picture of us in the hard hat in front of the CMS. I wish I could tell you more about it, but as intrigued as I am by the mechanics of how it all works, I only understood the very basics. If you want in depth detail, I suggest you do the 3.5 hour tour of CERN. It’s totally worth the trip to Geneva.

Photo Courtesy of Funk
Photo Courtesy of Funk

One of our visits outside of Geneva was to Zurich where we dined with about 20 alumni.  It was amazing to meet so many alumni who have all come from different backgrounds. Thanks so much to alumni John Cook who set up all of events in Zurich! Visiting the Swiss stock exchange and PWC was very enlightening (especially for those of us with very little finance background).  After our Friday in Zurich, a few of us took a bus tour through the countryside and over to Liechtenstein. It was one of our nicest days weather-wise, so perfect for pictures. Now we can say we’ve been to Liechtenstein and have the (novelty) stamps in our passports to prove it!

Photo Courtesy of Funk
Photo Courtesy of Funk

Our last official day in Geneva involved a lovely train trip to the town Gruyere for a tour of the cheese factory, an enormous fondue lunch, and a stop at the Cailler chocolate factory. It was a filling, but delightful way to spend the last day together. This trip was a great bonding experience and I am glad I got to know most of the group better than I did going into Geneva, so overall I have to say these guys definitely helped make the trip memorable.

Photo Courtesy of Funk
Photo Courtesy of Funk

One thought on “Geneva Winterim

  1. Thanks, Leah for the great write-up. I, too, feel that the Geneva Winterim turned out extremely well. A lot of preparation goes into the Winterims, insuring the right mix of speakers, quality speakers, and given this was my first time creating and leading it, I would also like to shout out a thank you to all of the people who helped me start from scratch. I drew on many contacts for assistance in assembling the program.

    Starting from scratch was actually the intention. To refresh the program, cover new areas reflecting the changing nature of the student body (the addition of the Zurich component), provide the student with a strong sense of life working both for multilateral organizations as well as the private uber-energized Swiss financial sector, incorporate the main multilateral bodies having a direct impact on the doing of international business, as well as coming to appreciate the diversity of cultures that Geneva and neighboring France incorporate. If you include emails, Skype, and telephone calls, John Cook and I probably had 20 different interactions, in organizing the Zurich component with certain objectives in mind. He is a tireless alum and supporter of Thunderbird. I am certainly grateful for his assistance.

    It was a pleasure working with a number of people in the bottom-up creation and refreshing of a program with a considerable history. Let me also say thank you to the Geneva Thunderbird Office, particularly Marie-Laure Kienne for her assistance providing many new contacts. This was particularly helpful in my attempt and belief in the necessity of creating a fresh, from the bottom up, program.

    Regardless of whether the Geneva program will be offered next January, by me or some other faculty member, I have a tremendous bundle of speaker contacts, cultural visits, insights, etc. to gladly share with them so that they can make the program even that much better for the next batch of Geneva students.

    And, yes, hire a good TA preferably with some connection to the region or language abilities and consider her/him part of the program creation and management team from day one. This proved to be incredibly helpful with Sylvia as my TA and she was selectively hired for these reasons. By the way, I did not really consider Sylvia as just my TA, from virtually day one of her hire we agreed she would be the Associate Director. All of these ideas and lessons, and many more, will help insure that the next program will be as successful as this last one.

    Finally, a special thank you to the students. I have run many Winterims over my career, and this group was clearly among the most adaptive. I don’t recall hearing one peep or complaint about an issue during the entire time. Yes, there may be one or two speakers that will need to be replaced next year, but, even those I considered less than stellar were not the subject of a complaint.

    Double finally, I believe you, Leah Funk, deserve a special thank you as well. You were definitely the navigator along with Koji during the trip. Your leadership and ability to use the app for the incredibly clockwork :), Switzerland public travel was very helpful to many. Although an expert myself on Swiss public travel and its app, I feigned ignorance and left it up to the class to learn their way around!!! 🙂

    The truth is NOT. I have to be honest. However, afterward, I felt so motivated to come into the 21st century in this regard, that I just came back from another trip and I, with you motivating me in mind, purposefully used exclusively public transportation for all of my travels. I am now a mini-Leah Koji Funk!

    Thanks again to all associated with the Geneva Winterim and I wish you the best in your future careers.

    Professor Goddard

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