I first decided to study in Geneva way back in November of 2017. Back then, I had no idea what I was in for. Studying abroad was something that I had always dreamed of doing, and the opportunities that were offered through this program seemed too good to be true – especially the part about being connected with an internship at an intergovernmental or nongovernmental organization in Geneva. Even before I knew exactly where I would be working, I had high expectations for this internship. Now, it is May of 2019 and I am wrapping up my last week interning for the World YWCA. Looking back, it is safe to say that this internship far surpassed any expectations that I might have had.
From the minute that I stepped into the World YWCA office, I felt welcome. Part of that feeling may have come from the fact that the World YWCA office is actually a sweet little house, with a full garden and lots of windows. But most of the comfort that I felt was from the people who work in this office. The World YWCA team could not be more genuine, caring, and hard working. They welcomed me to the YWCA with open arms, and went above and beyond to help me whenever they could – from advising me on my research project, assisting me with various communications tasks, connecting me with people from national YWCAs around the world, or even just recommending the best place to find tacos in Geneva.
I could go on and on about how great the people who work at the YWCA are, but what really makes this organization stand out is their global focus and how interconnected the YWCA movement is. The World YWCA doesn’t just care about women’s rights, but they are actively working towards female equality around the world every day. However, none of this would be possible if the YWCA movement as a whole didn’t have the support and connection that they have with member associations all around the world. There are many things about the YWCA that are extremely remarkable, but the thing that I was most impressed by was the unity of the movement, and the strong network that exists between the World office and member associations globally.
Working here the past few months, I have been able to see just how deeply connected the YWCA movement is first hand. One experience that I have had that illustrates this interconnectedness is the response that I received when I needed assistance with my research. This semester, I am researching the causes and effects of early child marriage on the lives of young girls. It was a long process, but as soon as I started discussing the project with members of the World office, not only was I given immediate guidance, but within a matter of minutes, I was connected with leaders of the YWCA movement in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. As soon as I reached out to them and told them about my project, all three member associations were so eager to assist me, and they went above and beyond to provide me with the information that I might need and inform me about the amazing programs that they have put in place to help eliminate child marriage.
This is just one of many experiences that showed me just how supportive the YWCA movement is, and how willing they are to improve the lives of young women and women across the globe. Being able to become a small part of this movement was so much more than I could have ever expected from an internship, and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity
This post was written by Hannah Cannon, an undergraduate student at Colgate University in upstate New York, who is studying International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies. During her semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, Hannah was an intern at the World YWCA, working with the Global Engagement and Communications Team.