Saturday, September 16, 2006

Working in the field

In our training period, it was stressed that we should maintain a healthy work/life balance. In order to meet this requirement, we decided to spend our public holiday over the border in France, exploring Mont Salève. The cows with bells were a reminder that we were in the country, while the fact that we could see the jet d'eau from almost every point along the way reminded us that we weren't far from the city.

There's always a dilemma for people who work in the areas of development or peace. Do you work on policy and advocacy, hoping to make a difference from a more distant point of view and risk criticism of being removed from the issues? Or do you work "in the field", living in countries struggling to re-build after war, and risk criticism of colonial interference? Well, this day helped us to find some perspective on this difficult issue. Our conclusions? Perhaps it is possible to find a balance!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cirque sans frontieres

The view from my colleague's apartment is far more exciting than the view from mine, but in addition to the beautiful alps, his view also contains the "Cirque sans frontieres", which apparently is not as beautiful as the Cirque du soleil, but instead includes animals and performers from around the world coming together in a symbol of unity - just like the United Nations.

Monday, September 04, 2006

All in a day's work

My workplace is a lovely old house with a beautiful garden. It has
four stories, including the attic (used as office space) and the cellar (used for meetings) and I am on the first floor. When I have been there a bit longer I should be pretty good at guessing whose feet are clumping up or down the stairs. One of my tasks is to arrange lunchtime meetings and I am pleased to report that my first one was accident-free. I have felt quite important running about getting my Swiss bank account and UN pass, but apart from the excitement of the perks of this job, I have realized how well respected the Quakers are in the UN circles and am feeling a sense of being part of something very worthwhile. I've been to quite a few UN meetings already, including one on cluster munitions in Lebanon, which was quite informative and disappointing at the same time. I'm also getting to know some of the other diplomats and NGO people who work on disarmament and they have been very welcoming.