After 6 weeks of classes in Geneva and traveling all over Europe, it is finally time to say goodbye. Duke in Geneva was an unforgettable experience, and I recommend this program to everyone. Duke in Geneva offers a great opportunity to meet amazing people, network with Duke alumni and professionals working for marketing firms and NGOs, and travel across Europe.
Check out the 2013 Duke in Geneva picture blog on tumblr. It’s titled Joyaux de l’Europe (click here to visit) and it’s a must see.
On the second Friday of the program, Alex and Martha drove roughly half of the students in the program to Chamonix to go hiking for the weekend. Chamonix is a beautiful resort town situated in the northwest region of the Alps—about an hour’s drive from Geneva. Bordered by Switzerland, France, and Italy, the town is dominated by the Aiguilles de Chamonix mountain chain. This chain is perhaps best known for Mont Blanc—the highest mountain in Western Europe.
As soon as we reached the town, we were given the opportunity to grab a bite to eat and purchase extra hiking gear (yes, we were told that we HAD to wear those “high-fashion” hiking shoes) before driving to our gites (this is the term for a French hostel; it is pronounced “jeet”). When we arrived at the gites, we were all pleasantly surprised. Although it was a relatively small building, its wooden floors, warm colored furniture, soft-playing background music, and colorful dorm rooms gave off a cozy, cabin-like vibe. Once we had unpacked our bags and changed into comfortable hiking clothes, we reconvened with Martha and Alex and headed off on our first hike. Boy, were we in for a surprise.
While a few of us have had experiences hiking, I think it is safe to say that no one was prepared for this first hike. By that, I mean, we were expecting a nice, little stroll on a well-marked trail through the Alps. If only. Alex and Martha led us on what seemed like a 5-hour journey uphill. This hike was one of the most challenging hikes many of us had ever been on—the first few hours uphill seemed to be never-ending. However, once we reached the top, I realized why people love hiking. The view was breathtaking. The trees were so green, the sky so blue, and looking down towards the valley made it seem like we were literally on top of the world.
On the second day of the trip, we went on a different hike to Mer de Glace. Mer de Glace is the largest glacier in France, stretching across 7 kilometers and reaching 200 meters deep. After walking around inside the ice cave, we climbed our way back up and hiked for a few more hours. This time, we saw more snow (in the summer!) and waterfalls. The scenery was just as beautiful, if not more than the previous day.
We had the last day of the trip all to ourselves. At this point, everyone was tired of hiking, so we chose to spend the day exploring (and eating delicious food) Chamonix. Half of the group chose to go parapenting. If you are not afraid of heights, I highly recommend trying this out. The view you get from gliding over Chamonix and flying next to Mont Blanc is incredible. This weekend trip was by far one of the most fun trips of the program.
Christiana Chen, Duke 2015
As I mentioned before, Geneva is a center for international diplomacy and is home to many international organizations. Over the course of the program we have had the privilege of visiting the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and several other notable organizations that I discussed in previous posts. It is worth noting that all of these organizations have internship opportunities available to students.
In July, we visited the WTO. The organizations purpose is to supervise and liberalize international trade. Our visit to the WTO helped us identify and better understand some of the barriers to free trade, such as protectionist agricultural policies in the U.S. and the European Union. Additionally, we were able to observe trade talks that were in progress, which was a great treat seeing that we were in the presence of government representatives from all over the world.
Later, we visited the ILO which is the UN agency that deals with labor issues, particularly international labor standards and decent work for all. The ILO gave us insight on the effects of globalization on labor laws and the rights of certain groups. Our discussion with representatives from the organization mainly focused on the effectiveness of the ILO and its polices and current issues pertaining to the rights of indigenous people, primarily those who inhabit South America.
We discovered that In South America, almost every country has ratified the ILO’s convention that protects the rights, freedom, and property of indigenous people. However, the majority of these countries don’t comply with the conventions. For example, South American governments are building highways through the lands of indigenous people in spite of strong objections from tribes. This is a prime example of how the ILO can be very ineffective. The organization has no authority to enforce its conventions, or coerce states to ratify conventions. Therefore, the choice to enforce conventions are solely up to the governments of individuals countries.
With the ongoing wars and political instability across the African continent and the Middle East, this final organization, the UNHCR, is being relied on more and more. The UNHCR is mandated to protect and support refugees. Some of its support tasks include repatriating refugees, helping refugees integrate into their new communities, and setting up and maintaining refugee camps. On our visit to the organization, we had the opportunity to speak with a UNHCR staff member, who has worked several hardship posts. She expressed that while working for the organization is fun and rewarding, it is very difficult to have a family. Employees must change posts every few years and live in difficult conditions with minimal to no luxuries.Terrence Neal, 2015
On July 18th, we traveled to Berlin, Germany. The Duke in Geneva program visits Berlin every summer because the city is a great example of the workings of globalization and free trade. After the end of World War II, while socialist centrally planned East Berlin’s economy failed, West Berlin’s free market economy flourished and led to great economic growth and development.
We traveled to the city by sleeper train, which was an interesting experience that helped many of us become more acquainted with each other. For the 4 day duration of our stay, we resided at the Hotel Bogota, which is a hotel of historical significance. At on point, the Hotel Bogota was the home of the famous German fashion photographer YVA, who was murdered by the Nazis in 1942. After her death, the hotel was confiscated by the Nazis and turned into the offices of the Reich Chamber of Culture. The Chamber of Culture promoted art consistent with Nazi ideals and worked to remove all Jews from cultural undertakings.
During our stay in Berlin, we managed to visit many of the city’s sights that remain as reminders of World War II. The Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the Reichstag, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the German History Museum, and the Karl-Marx-Allee were just a few of the places we visited.
Terrence Neal, Duke 2015
The city of Geneva provides a great environment for the student’s of this program to learn about global companies and international organizations. On Monday, we had the opportunity of visiting the European headquarters of Procter & Gamble (P&G). P&G is an American multinational consumer goods company that is ranked 5th on the Forbes “World’s Most Admired Companies” list. A few its products that everyone should be familiar with are Tide, Oral-B, Head & Shoulders.
On our visit we met Christoph Arneth, the Global Commercial Director for P&G, who spoke to us about his role, marketing, and how P&G operates. After his talk, he split us up into small groups and has us work on a case study. The objective of our case was to determine how to market Tide Pods, which are predicted to be the future of laundry detergent. Working on the case was very fun, and gave us a little taste of what it’s like to work in marketing.
The following day, we visited the headquarters of UNAIDS. The mission of UNAIDS is to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to HIV and AIDS that includes preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support to those already living with the virus, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. A past Duke in Geneva student now interns at UNAIDS, and he gave us a tour of the facility, as well as, informed us on his duties and the progress of the organization as it strives to uphold its mission.
Terrence Neal, Duke 2015
On Monday, we had the privilege of traveling to CERN to tour the facility and to attend a reception with President Brodhead. Traveling to CERN fit perfectly with the Duke in Geneva program’s focus on globalization. CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is proof of the power of international cooperation and integration. It is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, and the site of the discovery of the so-called “god particle,” or Higgs boson. The successes of the organization are attributed to the collaboration of over 100 countries who’ve come together to fund CERN’s experiments, as well as provide world-class researchers, some of which hail from Duke.
The trip to CERN commenced with a tour of CERN’s ATLAS experiment. After descending 100 meters underground into a reinforced cavern, we beheld the 7000-tonne particle detector. The detector is impressive, even for those of us who are not well educated in the field of physics. Its was amazing to see the complexity of its structure and to try to picture the billions of particles accelerating into each other every second.
Later in the evening, at the reception, we mingled with President Brodhead, Duke alumni who now live and work around Europe, CERN researchers, and other Duke students who are interning and studying in the Geneva area. The reception was a great opportunity to network and pick the brains of alumni who work in the field of our desired future careers. It also was great opportunity to meet with the president of our great university in a laid back setting. Taking advantage of the many resourceful individuals at the reception, I left the reception with a better idea of what I would like to pursue after undergrad.
Terrence Neal, Duke 2015