Hello all! I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging since my arrival in Geneva – it’s been busy and the internet in the university housing isn’t very conducive to spending much time online. I’m not much of a writer so I’ll try to keep this simple and to the point.
Geneva has been absolutely amazing! The city is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and I have really fallen in love with this place.
The park and lake near the GAVI office (top left) and various views of the city.
When I first arrived on Monday (April 2nd) morning, I had the day to get settled and familiarize myself with the city a little but on Tuesday morning it was straight to work at the GAVI Alliance. Working at GAVI has been an interesting experience – in my short time I really have gotten a feel for the dynamic of the organization and how it has been shaped by its history. While most of the people working at GAVI have not been there very long (it seems like most people spend a couple years there and move on), they seem to have a great deal of insight on where the organization started, where it has been, where it is now, and where it is going – so it has been great to get to hear their experiences and perceptions of GAVI as well as other international organizations working with GAVI.
(Top left) Part of my desk at GAVI – yes, I love post-its. (Top right) The GAVI sign at the entrance of the building. (Bottom left) The Mines bus stop where I get off every day –just down the street from the office which is the green glass building in the back. (Bottom center) Another side of the street where the office is. (Bottom right) Myy GAVI badge – I’m so official!
The project I have been working on in the Media and Communications (M&C) department has been the GAVI photo library. While the project isn’t a typical “public health” project, it has allowed me to really get an inside look at many of GAVI’s projects on the ground and has also been a good opportunity to talk to different people at GAVI about their experiences and the work they do. As a (short-term) member of the M&C team, I have gotten to sit in on various meetings and get a glimpse at a side of global health organizations I have not had much exposure to – how the organization portrays itself (to the public, to its donors, and to the people it serves), how the organization makes decisions around these areas and how it manages leadership in the organization regarding these decisions. While we have discussed the importance of pleasing the public and pleasing donors while still maintaining overall focus in our MPH classes – seeing how it plays out in reality has been eye-opening (and I’ll admit, quite entertaining as well).
The two main projects that have been on the M&C “plate” recently are the dual launch of the GAVI-supported rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines in Ghana happening later this month and the development of the 2011 Progress Report. The vaccine launch in Ghana is unique because the Ministry of Health has decided to launch two vaccines at the same time – which is a first for both Ghana and GAVI. The M&C team has been working hard to organize the launch as well as the media coverage around it – and while I am just catching the end of the preparations it has still been exciting and insightful. The annual progress report is a project that I think any organization can relate to – it’s a necessary part of any organization’s work and progress. In that sense, getting to watch the process of developing, publishing, and planning for distribution of the annual progress report has been something I think will be useful in my future as a public health professional. There have also been many other projects and happenings at GAVI in my short time here – like the fact that GAVI has recently reached a 60%-40% gender representation on its Board. As a young woman early in my career I think it’s important to see this type of representation of women in leadership. Overall, everyone I’ve been working with has really made an effort to make sure I don’t just sit at my desk and work on my project but that I also get as much exposure to GAVI as possible, so its been a great experience thus far.
As far as life in Geneva goes – I really can’t get enough! I definitely want to come back and live here later in my life. This is my first time in Europe so I’m really trying to do as much as possible – last weekend I took the train to Paris for a few days (which was beautiful but crowded and the smoking there is really surprising for someone who grew up in the 90’s/2000’s in the US or someone who’s been living in LA). I would definitely recommend taking the train whenever possible when traveling here because you really get to see a lot of the smaller towns you wouldn’t normally visit (just going through them).
(Top left) My best Vanna White pose at the Louvre Museum entrance. (Top right) A view from the train ride from Geneva to Paris. (Bottom left) Me making very good use of the reverse camera feature on my iPhone at the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe (which I did a lot since I was traveling alone). (Bottom right) Me at the Scare Coeur church in Paris.
This weekend I spent some time exploring Old Town Geneva, which was felt like a separate little world inside Geneva. It would’ve been a lot nicer if the weather was better (it was gorgeous my first few days here and hasn’t stopped raining since…I keep hoping it will clear up for the next two weeks!). But the Cathedral St. Pierre and the archeological site underneath the cathedral were incredible and a must-see for anyone visiting Geneva.
(Top left) My umbrella blowing in the wrong direction thanks to the wonderful weather this past weekend. (Top right) Me at the the top of the South Tower of the St. Pierre Cathedral. (Bottom left) The St. Pierre Cathedral. (Bottom right) A floor mosaic from the 5th century archeological site discovered under the St. Pierre Cathedral.
Next weekend is my last one here and I’m going to Rome (like I said, I’m trying to get as much out of this trip as possible!). Other than that looking forward to another productive and interesting week at GAVI!