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UK Travel Bursary Scheme: Valentina Meiksane visits Geneva

My trip to Geneva lasted for five days. During these days I tried to perform all the tasks which I outlined in my UK Travel Bursary application form.

Furthermore, in my application form I listed the aims of my visit. The main purposes of my trip were to participate in Geneva summit for Human Rights and Democracy, visit the United Nations office and the International Red Cross museum.

I arrived in Geneva on 18th February evening and went straight to the City Geneva Hostel. In the hostel I received a free Geneva public transport travel card. Thereby, I travelled around Geneva for free.

On the next day, 19th February I attended the Geneva summit for Human Rights and Democracy. The summit lasted from 9am until 6pm. The summit was divided to four sessions. The first session was about the women’s rights issues. During this session, reporters, women’s rights activists and victims delivered their speeches. For me personally, the most exciting speech was made by Marina Nemat who is an Iranian author, victim and human rights activist.

Geneva Summit for Human Righst and Democracy

The second session was about the crime against humanity where such issues as slavery, genocide and concentration camps of our time were discussed. This session was one of the most interesting for me and I received a lot of useful and valuable first-hand information which supported my studies a lot and which I can now use in my essays. One of the speakers was a North Korean defector Shin Dong Hyuk who is a well-known person all over the world, so I was very delighted and honoured to meet him and have a chance to listen to his speech.

The third session was focused on authoritarianism and human rights. Where issues such as the situation in Cuba, China’s pressure on Tibet and others were discussed.

The fourth session was on the freedom of expression. During this session we discussed such current issues as Pussy Riot case, presented by the husband of the main member of the Pussy Riot, the independent media in Kazakhstan and the problem of the freedom of expression in Morocco.

All four sessions were extremely valuable for me in regards to the information I received. In my view no one of the books, media or other sources could describe and evaluate the existing problems and human rights violations better than the actual participants and victims.

On the 20th February I had the United Nations tour. The tour gave me a chance to see United Nations from the inside. I saw the famous monuments, halls and conference rooms, such as the Human Rights Council. Moreover, I saw a number of exhibitions organised by UN. During the tour, I received a brief history on how the UN operates and how it was created.

United Nations

Right after the tour I attended the ‘Wages, Inequality and Development: Time to Turn the Wheel?’ seminar held by the UN Research Institute for Social Development. On this seminar the professor from Cambridge explained the current economic situation, financial crisis and its impacts on the wages instability, poverty and economic growth problems. It was a very useful seminar which looked on the contemporary economic situations through the combination of the economical, sociological and human rights factors.

Additionally, the conference on transboundary waters was held in the UN during my visit and I met Russian delegation and received a number of reports regarding this issue.

Unfortunately, despite my trip being well planned, I faced a number of failures. For example, the Red Cross museum was closed for the renovation and I could not visit it. Also, I could not visit a number of the UN institutions because of lack of permits. On the 21st February I planned to visit the Human Rights Watch office, however it was closed. Notwithstanding these failures, I had an unforgettable time in Geneva.

The rest part of the day I spent getting to know Geneva, its famous attractions and places. I visited the watch exhibition and a great number of museums. Such as the Reformation museum which outline the history of the reformation from its start to nowadays; Nature museum and Ceramic museum. Art and History museum, which is famous by its great collection of ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian art, I liked most. Furthermore I visited the famous St Peter’s cathedral and its archaeological premises which are a historical base of Geneva.

My last day in Geneva was 22nd February and I flew back to the UK. 

By the end of my trip I may say that I completed all the aims I set for myself, except the visit to the Red Cross Museum.

I attended the summit which has a great impact on my personal views and understanding of the modern issues. Moreover, the information I received supports my studies, my knowledge and is very valuable for me. I am extremely happy that I had a chance to be there and I am definitely going to participate in this summit next year and the year after. As it supports my present studies, is a good skill for my CV and for my future career.

My visit to the UN gave me a chance to meet with its work from inside. Now I have a better understanding of it and I can be more precise in considering the UN as my future workplace.

Valentina at the United Nations

Moreover I collected a lot of information regarding the student internships, fellowships and International Law seminars and summer study programmes within the UN designed for the postgraduate students.

Due to the opportunity to visit Geneva, Human Rights and Democracy Summit and the UN, my dream came true. Besides receiving a great amount of the information and knowledge, I saw Geneva with its famous attractions, experienced a different culture and made a lot of friends. Therefore, summarizing the above, I am sure that I gained an indispensable life experience.

In conclusion, I want to say thank you to UCLan and the UK Travel Bursary scheme for this great opportunity and for making my family proud for me.