Off to Geneva!

By: Kyle Villemain

I’m off to Geneva in less than four hours. I’ve been a quite infrequent blogger these first two months of summer but plan to change that as I start to ramp up my summer.

Thus far, I’ve spent my days planning. Doing some planning, having some meetings and then doing some more planning. Most of my work has been with Student Government. I’ve gotten to meet all sorts of people from all across campus. If I had one observation from my time thus far is that it is not only astounding how many different things are going on all over campus but it’s equally amazing how little some of the different parts of campus have no idea what’s going on in a different area. We’re intensely siloed.

Tune back in nine months from now to see if we made any contribution to changing that siloed approach. We can call it faceless bureaucracy vs. Kyle, round one.

It’s been a whirlwind over the past few months as self-imposed deadlines have come and gone and I’ll try to reflect on that time seriously as I change pace and head to Geneva. For now, though, I’m just excited to get on the plane and fly over.

My time in Geneva is three-fold. All the work related activities are in the first half. Then I meet my parents for a family vacation, hiking Mount Blanc. Should be an interesting experience for the family… my mom has had my dad “training” for it all summer. And then finally, I train through Paris to Amsterdam for a few possible meetings to end the trip and a flight home. If I can swing it, the meetings in Amsterdam would be fascinating- the Dutch government is very much a leader in Nexus approaches and integrated water-food-energy policy.

My first week in Geneva should be action packed. Geneva is UN-central and there are a multitude of UN agencies, NGOs, governmental missions, etc. based in the city. I’m set to meet with a number of them concerning the Nexus conference that I help host each spring at UNC. I’ve been honing my pitch and feel pretty ready to catch some big fish.

I have my list of contacts in Geneva, some of them have confirmed meetings with me, some responded but then dropped off the radar, and some have been on vacation or have ignored my messages. I have my map ready and am planning on doing some door knocking. I’m excited to get out and learn the city.

After I fly out of Amsterdam, it will be the fifteenth of August! School will be upon us and I’ll get to go through a crazy two weeks of class, student government, Geneva follow up, moving in etc. All while preparing for my final trip of the summer to Stockholm the first week of September.

More to come once I get to Geneva!