Well, it has been an eventful week and a half! Shortly after I wrote the last blog, my computer wouldn’t start, and I had to take it in to get fixed. Now that it’s back I can tell you a little bit about my first week and a fun day trip to Annecy, France!
My first day was not at all how I would have pictured it. I arrived early and got my badge, and went to my supervisor’s office with my fellow intern from ColoradoSPH. We got a quick debrief and then headed straight over to the World Health Assembly at the UN.
Where would an intern be without a nervous first day of work selfie, and a much more presentable photo taken later by a friend?
The WHA is a very intricate, intriguing week with so much going on behind the scenes it’s hard to comprehend. But I think it can be explained as the diplomatic conference at which the major direction of the WHO is heading for the next year or years is determined. Everyone is advocating for a different important piece of the public health picture and attempting to guide the assembly to support their focal points.
This is the largest meeting room, it took us at least 20 minutes to figure out how to get in and get a seat at this much-watched plenary meeting. The Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, addresses this and many other groups of member states, NGO’s and interns like me all week long, including Saturday! It was difficult to be thrown into on your first week, but I found out later we weren’t the only ones, and I was fortunate to have Kelly as my buddy through all the craziness! We went to meeting after meeting, all translated into many languages, there were side events, technical briefings, receptions at nearby venues (with free food 🙂 ) and so many people. After hours of listening to diplomatic discussion, we needed a break on Tuesday and decided to tour the UN grounds, which are really beautiful! It was hard to leave such perfect weather for a seat in another meeting.
As the week went on, I learned a LOT about how decisions are made and resolutions are passed. We kept a particular eye on the resolution that our supervisor was heavily involved with about the inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes. For a brief overview of the topic, click here. It was very interesting to see the painstaking process of passing a resolution. And yes, it did pass after much ado on Saturday!
As for Annecy, Kelly and I decided to make a day trip of it! I’m so glad we did. Annecy (pronounced Ahn-see) is the Venice of France, with charming canals leading up to a huge lake with spectacular views of the Alps all around. We also happened to come a farmer’s market, and it’s probably a good thing I forgot to get some Euros before we left, because I would have spent all of them on the tasty food!
We saw some great cathedrals, more charming alleyways, and made it up to a hiking viewpoint looking down on the city. Don’t you just love the Alps??
I highly recommend Annecy for a day trip, it was a wonderful travel experience, the people are very friendly, and it has a pleasant, peaceful atmosphere. Not to mention the ice cream is pretty darn good on a hot day!