Reflections from the first month in Geneva. Hard to believe that I am already done with four weeks of internship. In the past few weeks I have had opportunity to learn a lot as well as explore the city. Geneva has started to feel more like home now, especially since I figured out the most essential things that make a difference between one’s home town and a strange city. Those two things for me are 1) Public transport and 2) Food.

I am now comfortable navigating the public transport system called TPG here. I have also downloaded two very useful apps: TPG which accurately tells me the bus timings and SBB mobile which offers simple and personalized timetable enquiries and lets you purchase a ticket in just two clicks. I have spotted all the grocery stores close to home – Coop, Denner, Migros, and Indian shops like Asian Spices and Madhura. Cooking food at home is now very convenient especially since Geneva’s restaurant food is out of my budget. Last week I got a shawarma for 20 dollars after which I vowed to cook at home. Back home once in a while I would call my family and friends for dinner, something I did not think was possible here without help. Luckily, I found an excellent Pakistani chef within my budget. He has agreed to cook me a lavish weekend dinner so I will soon throw a memorable party for all the beautiful people I met in my new home.

At the workplace, we are now a group of four interns from different countries across the globe – China, Netherlands, Geneva, Pakistan! Since the two new interns just arrived last week, we obviously got very excited and created a whatsapp group. Now we explore all the neighboring lunch places together or just have a mini picnic outdoors on the grass. There is greenery available at every nook and corner of the building with inviting benches and tables making the environment serene and very pleasant. We have shared a lot of interesting conversations about our respective cultures, school and the work we do here. We all are working on different projects so we get to share our experiences from the different departments here.

Now for the actual tasks I have been assigned at this internship. I have read and reviewed  curriculum evaluation reports. I have created a database of organizations that would be willing to fund our curriculum development work in low income countries. I did a literature review to understand the link between education and national prosperity of a country. I learnt how to use software such as End Note and Ref Works to cite publications easily and efficiently. I did not know that I already have a Ref Works account through PENN. Would have made life easy when last year I was struggling to do all the bibliographies! Through research I found out what other countries like Finland, Estonia etc are doing to increase their GDP growth rates. At the same time this literature review was done to help edit the Global Congress concept note. I read a lot of reports on the current reconceptualization of curriculum, future competencies and future of curriculum, transforming teaching, learning and assessment to help me understand the kind of mindset that the people in this organization had and to better equip myself to help in report writing and editing such documents.

All of the well-documented benefits of education to development—reduction of a wide range of poverties, individual growth, economic growth, prevention of diseases and epidemics, good health, participatory democracy, sustainable use of the environment, diverse forms of equity and inclusiveness, peace, global citizenship, social cohesion, political stability etc—are not feasible unless education and learning is of good quality, effective and relevant. General education lays the foundation for quality, effective and relevant education and learning throughout life. Failure to provide quality education means failure to realize the development impact of education and learning. So my assignment, which I found very interesting and links directly to the courses I have studied at school, was to understand tools developed by this organization to understand this gap between the increase in enrollment rates with effective learning and create a draft prospectus for the newer version using systems approach. During this time there was a lot of information overload with words such as online functionality, multi modal input, Epistemic Network Analysis, Complex Adaptive System, etc. The draft prospectus was to include all these terms and obviously without delving deep into what these terms mean, I could not create one. So that was a challenging task for me. Now after the prospectus is done, my task is to really understand Epistemic Network Analysis and to start coding this tool for the next few weeks. I am excited about the opportunity to learn more about this through web conferencing with a few people in Namibia who are doing this kind of work.

Lastly a few pictures from around Geneva:

This is all for now! Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share some of my adventures in Switzerland and more details about my upcoming assignments at work.