Maison Cailler – Sarah Bouhuys

Cailler's 200th Anniversary chocolate cake

After a long week of mercury negotiations and international issues, it was only fitting to close our trip by learning about one of Switzerland’s finest exports: chocolate. In order to do this, we toured Maison Cailler, a chocolate factory home to Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand that still exists, celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.

As soon as we arrive, we are greeted by a gorgeous mountain view and an aroma of chocolate wafting through the air. So, it was already off to a good start.

Before the tour starts, we are handed electronic chocolate bars that speak and told they will interpret things on the wall for us. This was strange and new but did nothing to prepare us for what we were about to see. As we begin the tour, it feels as though we are entering a crossover between Disney World and Willy Wonka, with a historical narrative. We are ushered into a room by ourselves and the doors slide shut behind us. Then, the floor begins to sink, and another room is slowly revealed. It is decked out as a tropical Aztec island, and a narration begins, describing the Aztec god of cacao who shared a magical chocolate drink with man, and was far too powerful for women. The narration continues through many different rooms, telling the history of chocolate through animatronic scenes with just the right amount of education and humor. Some of these rooms included a medieval dining area with portraits that talked, mountainous range with busts of significant chocolatiers, and an inside look at the first Cailler factory. In all honesty, much of the narration has blurred together since there was so much stimulation from each room and I wanted to take it all in.

 

Francois-Louis Cailler is credited as the founder of Cailler, however the brand went through lots of partnerships, management changes, and even bankruptcy before it reached its worldwide fame. In the early 1900s, Nestle had milk chocolate production done by Peter and Kohler, which later merge with Cailler to manufacture higher-quality chocolate and reach international audiences. Finally, the company is relaunched officially as Cailler of Switzerland in 2006.

The final room opened into a large area with a wall mural and tables with ingredients on them. The mural featured many different people and what they contribute to the chocolate making process. We were able to use the electronic chocolate bar to hear all the different stories of how cocoa is farmed from an actual farmer or how milk is gotten, told by a surprisingly well-spoken cow. In the center of the room were tables with some of the main ingredients involved in making chocolate, such as cocoa beans, available to discover using different senses, such as sight, touch, smell, and even taste. Unfortunately, the ingredients are much less tasty than the final product.

After reading and listening to how the ingredients are found, we move on to see the chocolate in use. On one side of the new area is a long machine producing a treat called Mini-Branches. At first, I thought this machine was just an example but as I kept watching, I realized it was making chocolates in real time. According to the audio, this machine is a smaller version of other ones they use even though it produces 90 Mini-Branches per minute. It shows the whole process of turning chocolate into long ropes, cutting a length of rope, covering it in melted chocolate, and then packaging it. At the end of the conveyor, there were even samples set out for us to try.

 

On the other side of the room was a woman working on intricate chocolate designs in molds. I felt a little bad for her because of all the people standing around watching and taking pictures. But not bad enough to not participate in taking pictures too. It was very interesting to see the amount of precision she had in piping out small hearts and other ornamental details. Next to her were other finished chocolate artworks including a phenomenal, life-sized bust of a man with even more ornamentation. After seeing this, I fully believe chocolatiers are artists and they practice in a beautiful art form, one of which I may feel inspired to take up, although I would probably eat all my materials.

Continuing in the tour, we are guided by the electronic chocolate bar once more in a sensual chocolate walk. We are given a piece of chocolate and instructed to unwrap, look, feel, listen, smell, and then finally eat it to fully understand and reflect on the processes we just learned about. Each step leading up to eating it felt painfully long, but it was certainly a new and interesting challenge to try and appreciate the chocolate before eating it by the handful.

Luckily, any need for more chocolate after analyzing it was fully satisfied as we went through the tasting room. The displays of chocolate and holiday cheer were not only wonderful to look at but were delicious as well because we could sample as much as we wanted. They offered about 10 different types of chocolates to try, which were surprisingly filling because of how rich the chocolate was and how they did not provide cups of water for us, probably to prevent hungry college students from eating their entire collection. Needless to say, this was a pretty good conclusion to an overall excellent tour.

After Maison Cailler, we were able to tour La Maison du Gruyere, a cheese-making facility, which also offered samples but unfortunately not an endless supply. We also ate lunch there and then concluded the day with a visit to a very scenic town featuring mountains and a castle. It was sad that that was essentially our final day in Switzerland, but it was certainly a very good finale to a wonderful and exciting trip.

La Maison de Gruyere Tours- Jeff Estes

On our final day of the trip, we took a rental van along the coast of Lake Leman (a.k.a. Lake Geneva) and to the northeast to the foothills of the Alps, to the town of Gruyères.

We first visited the factory of Swiss chocolate manufacturer Cailler, which opened its doors in 1898 focusing on producing milk and hazelnut chocolate on a larger scale than ever before. In 1905 Cailler first cooperated with rival chocolate company Nestle, with whom they would later merge with entirely in 1929.

Cailler’s claim to fame is that they are the only Swiss chocolate manufacturer in the world to uses condensed milk rather than powdered milk, also originating from the Alpine Gruyère region – a product famous in of itself. The company states that this is how they achieve the rich and smooth flavor incomparable to the competition.

The tour of the factory began with this and other noteworthy history of the company and the factory itself, with numerous demonstrations and little toy models to illustrate the story – several of which were interesting and fun, others quite startling. For example, shown here is a light-hearted diorama of Spanish aristocrats first discovering the first form of a chocolate drink called chocolātl after the Latin American delicacy was brought back to Europe for the first time in the 16th century.

The tour also included other information tidbits such as the geographical factors of chocolate production, mapping the sources of all the ingredients that go into a Cailler chocolate bar – in the map below we can see they purchase cocoa beans from Madagascar to California. They even had samples of each of their ingredients for patrons to see, touch, feel, and smell. The tour continued to highlight the entire production process and explain the steps in each phase and showcase who is involved with what; for example, Jon-Pierre the truck driver that delivers milk from the dairy farm to the factory each day.

At the conclusion of the tour a mini version of the production line is shown, with real chocolates being produced and packaged. A small sample is offered at the end of the display, freshly wrapped for our tasting pleasure.

After some photo ops with the Alps as the backdrop, the group rode over to La Maison de Gruyere, a.k.a. the cheese factory. There we were taking on an audio tour of the gruyere cheese production process and its history, and why they care so much about the “AOP” sticker on each package. AOP, or appellation d’origine protégée (protected designation of origin) is the guaranteed seal that is only put on cheese from a few specific regions of Switzerland: the cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Berne. This ensures that no other cheese in the world can claim to be crafted from careful Swiss hands, and if does in fact claim such an origin, it can be disproven and legally reprimanded.

Several of us took advantage of our geographic location and gorged ourselves in the protected cheese of western Switzerland, ordering everything from grilled cheese to multiple orders of fondue. I personally am guilty of dipping everything within a three-foot radius of my plate into the hot bat of gooey goodness.

Overall, it could not have been a more enjoyable last day to a wonderful trip. The gorgeous scenes along the drive and views from inland villages were breathtaking; honestly, the mountains are probably what I will remember most from a pretty memorable trip.

 

Day 4- Jenna Merry

Today, November 28th, we all got up and ate breakfast at the hotel, and rushed out to hurry to get to our tour at the UN Headquarters.  We happened to go on the busiest day that they have ever seen, and we waited in line for a long while, trying to get through security and passport checks with many other groups.  We were given orange lanyards and walked around the gift shop while waiting for a guide.

   (The front of the UN with all of the flags, where we stuck our phones though the gate to get a good photo) 

When a guide arrived, our group was a small one and the guide was very eager to hurry.  We started seeing a conference going on where we convened and were given the low down regarding the rules in the buildings.  After, we went down a hall with an art gallery of country gifts that are given once they are adopted in.  This art piece she focused on focused on symmetry and the trick-of-the-eye was that no matter where you were in the room, the path leading to the small palace or temple always was pointed towards you. We then entered large hallways with 1920s/30s interior architecture with all of the cut stone of different colors and clean lines. She talked about each room quickly as we walked by, and she emphasized the urgency that was that we all stuck together.  We then entered the main UN conference room, where she talked about just what meeting happened in there.  It was a beautiful large room with the original ceiling, and we had limited time for photos (and another man in the tour group tried getting into the one that we were able to take!)  

(One of the main larger rooms where we took a group photo)

We then hurried to a small room where a celebration of new UN members were setting up.  The walls had original murals showing depictions of peace, war, the continents represented as giants, as well as more.  There wasn’t any time for pictures as a group as she said we were way behind schedule. We hurried to the other main conference room with the painted ceilings, however there was a meeting going on in there and we had to duck at the window to see it, and weren’t allowed to take pictures.  We were hurried out, and just as we left the meeting let out, but we weren’t allowed to go back to see the ceiling better.  We all hung out in the gift shop after and collected fun mementos to end the trip there.

(The ceiling with the giants representing the continents painted on it in the room with the celebration set up)

At the convention, to our surprise, the plenary was cancelled to give more times for contact groups.  I ended up going to the technical group for effectiveness.  Overall, it was a stressful meeting, and the Speaker had a lot of issues making sure everyone stayed on topic.  This was probably the closest thing to our simulation than anything, as it was a lot of confusion, fighting over some phrases and words and punctuation.  It was a very interesting meeting to witness, and even stranger that I was seating among the delegates who were debating.  I sat right in front of Iran and right behind both Zambia and Kenya, and just being integrated in this group was an incredible experience.  I think the craziest thing I was able to witness was how China’s, my focused country, “strategy” was to deny absolutely everything, and I didn’t fully expect such false claims, but was interesting and almost funny at times nonetheless.

(The huge chair in between the Minamata convention building and the UN building we toured with the broken leg that we all loved seeing)

We finished the night at the hotel, making pasta in the kitchen, me being surprised with a birthday celebration (which was the sweetest thing ever), hanging out on the rooftop, and then going to bed dreaming of chocolate and cheese that was happening the next day!

Day 4 – Pamela Flores

On Thursday, November 28th, we visited the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). Located at the Palais des Nations, it is the second largest after the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The building was constructed in the late 1930’s to be remodeled in the late 1960’s.

Entrance to UNOG

During our visit, there were ongoing meetings at UNOG. The amount of people caused an initial delay to our planned tour. From the beginning, the regulation of the entrance and the security processes were extensive. After checking our passport, they finally gave us access to the buildings. We had the opportunity to participate in a guided tour. Before we started, they gave us the fundamental instructions that we should follow for the rest of the tour. These instructions included not taking pictures during ongoing meetings, staying close to the tour guide and not taking photos or videos from the tour guide.

1 of the 34 meeting rooms at UNOG

The first place we visited was one of 34 meeting rooms at UNOG where a negotiation were taking place. From a balcony, we could see that the meeting room prepared for 200 people was only half full. Compared to the number of people in the Minamata Convention, this negotiation was much smaller; Despite its difference in delegates, the same protocol followed in the Minamata Convention was followed in this meeting. This protocol consists in ordering the parties in alphabetical order, having the 6 official UN translations available and the right for each party to bring their own translator. Unlike the Minamata Convention, observers took the space of the last rows and not the balconies. It was we, the visitors, who took the balconies as part of the tour. 

View of Parc de l’Ariana

As the tour continued, the tour guide explained the importance of international relations in the world and how even before the United Nations, the League of Nations had an important duty to make this possible. In addition to the first meeting room, we had the opportunity to see other meeting rooms in the different buildings such as the Council Chamber located in Building C. Walking through the hallways, we had a great view of Parc de l’Ariana, the 46 hectare park previously owned by Gustave Revilliod. After his death, he left the park to the City of Geneva. The City of Geneva made the park available to the United Nations and for its offices and today, UNOG stands at the heart of the park.

As we walked, delegated stepped out of meeting rooms while others stepped into meetings. It was without a doubt a busy day at UNOG and a busy day overall United Nations meetings in Geneva. The last meeting room we visited was the new Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber (Room XX) . It is one of the largest conference rooms in the Palace of Nations. This room contained a work of art in the ceiling donated by Spain. Unfortunately, there was an ongoing meeting that day so we couldn’t take photos of the meeting room. 

At the end of the tour, the tour guide recommends that we take the free guide on how to practice the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in our daily lives. This little guide will be very useful for our lives because it gives us advice on how to contribute to the MDG in simple and accessible ways

In the afternoon, we returned to the Minamata Convention. Due to new modifications to the convention schedule, we attended the meeting, Contact Group: Effectiveness. This session focused on the Draft decision MC-3 Arrangements for the first effectiveness evaluation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. This session was marked by the continuous participation of the EU and US. Both had very contrasting opinions on the adoption of the indicators. The US was in disagreements with other parties such as Iran and the EU who suggested on trialing the indicators and later review them. The US did not wish to commit to the indicators because they were “exercising some fundamental errors” and, they did not have enough time to review them completely. The EU on its side, continued to offer technical and financial assistance to parties in need. The EU role is very similar to that of the simulation; very collaborative and understanding. It was interesting to see how other parties were willing to be flexible on the indicators and reformulate the indicators’ wording. Unfortunately there was no agreement at the end and this text had to be deferred for the next COP. 

Plenary at the Minamata Convention

 

CERN- Tighe Gugerty

Picture of the eleven students with a parofessor
Behind the scenes with Dr. Spassov

On our third day in Geneva, we started the day differently than the two days prior; rather than learn about international governmental collaboration at the UN, we learned about international science collaboration at the CERN.

The CERN, or the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, was established in 1954 as a joint scientific venture of European states. The founders of the project hoped to restore Europe’s pre-World War II scientific capacity and foster a sense of collaboration between recently feuding counties. Since then, the organization has grown to 23 member states with numerous international partners.

The organization, originally a nuclear research laboratory, currently focusses on particle physics. Particle physics is concerned with the interactions of particles smaller than the atom scale: these include quarks, leptons, gluons, and bosons. These are the most fundamental building blocks of the universe. Particles of these types typically are unwieldy in a conventional laboratory setting, requiring large scale facilities like the CERN to reproduce them. The CERN uses these particles to simulate the early universe where there was little in the way of the complexity of matter and high levels of energy.

For our tour of the facility, we began with an informational video and lecture led by a physicist who has been with the organization for over 30 years. Here we learned about the history, mission, and work of the organization. The lecturer did have gripes about the content of the prerecorded materials, claiming that its stance on dark matter was incorrect. Following this, we were led on a tour of the facility. The compound that houses the CERN is a system of roughly 1500 buildings that support the operation of 9 particle accelerators, the most famous being the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – which is responsible for the Nobel award-winning discovery of the Higgs-Boson.

Our first stop was to the computing center where data from experiments are collected, parsed, and analyzed. The nature of particle physics research requires every minutia to be recorded resulting in huge amounts of data – typically in the terabyte range. The data is taken from here and transmitted worldwide so international partners can distribute the load of data analysis. All of this computing has led crucial computing technologies, like touch screens and the world wide web, to be developed at the CERN.

The next, and final, stop on our tour was the antimatter facility. As the name implies, antimatter, the physically opposite component to matter, is studied there. The two experiments we saw were Elena, an antiproton accelerator used to investigate the spectroscopy of antimatter, and G-Bar, a gravity chamber used to study gravitational effects on matter.

ELENA- the particle decelerator

Both of the setups looked surprisingly rough, like a mad science lab, rather than clean and sterile as one would expect for such an exact science.

We returned to the gift shop following the tour before finally returning to the conference for the afternoon plenary session.

The delegates focused on remediation and containment of contaminated sites, with discussion from countries reporting on their current work and hopes for comprehensive rules to pass. The most notable comment of the night came from Namibia, who boldly asserted Africa as the best continent on the plant. Though delegates hadn’t agreed on the proper response to earlier comments made, the response to this one was clear: laughter.

Following the long day of all things international, science and government, we returned to our hotel for a much-needed rest.

UN GVA – Linzy Dineen

United Nations Geneva

Our visit to the United Nations Office at Geneva was an incredibly enriching experience. Located in the Palais des Nations, it is the second largest of the UN’s major centers with only 200-300 fewer employees and annual meetings than the New York office. The building, originally constructed in the late 1920’s-early 1930’s, has 34 meeting rooms and 2,800 offices. The largest of the rooms, pictured below, seats 2,000 people.

Upon our arrival, we went through an extensive entrance process, then straight to the visitor’s center where we met our tour guide. She first brought us to observe an ongoing international negotiation in one of the meeting rooms. As it is was proceeding, she explained to us the formalities of such conventions, which we have been observing first-hand at COP3 of the Minamata Convention all week. For example, delegates of different regions sit in alphabetical order with UN officials at the front of the room and observers to the back. Each side of the room has balconies, one populated by the public (in this case, us) and the other by translators. The UN has six official languages, these being English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. These languages are the most popular in the world and typically satisfy the needs of all parties, but delegates are welcome to bring their own translators as well.

As we walked around the complex, our guide continued providing us with facts about the UN. These included defining the “UN family,” which includes all employees of the United Nations, as well as specialized agencies such as the WHO and IPCC. In addition, we learned that the UN Charter entered into force on October 24th, 1945, which is now celebrated as UN day annually. Before 1945, however, international relations were still very much relevant and necessary. In fact, the next room we visited within the Palais des Nations was the Council Chamber, which originally housed the League of Nations. The League, which operated from 1919-1946, was the first intergovernmental organization purposed for the maintenance of world peace. Though the League has since been succeeded by the UN, the Council Chamber is still operational and is home to the Conference on Disarmament, as well as other peace conferences.

The Council Chamber was my favorite stop on the tour. As you can see, its walls were lined with beautiful murals, gifts of Spain, which represent the triumphs of human diplomacy in health, technology, freedom, and peace. My favorite pieces, though, were murals toward the back of the room. These paintings, pictured below, depict five giants, each representing one of the five continents1 and therefore collectively representing all the people of the world. In the images, the giants each wield a weapon so that no one may use it, and each equally hold the weight of a large physical obstacle. The responsibility of world peace is a burden for which each of them are accountable. Though these works are metaphorical, they clearly depict how international policy should persist through reality. There are no real winners in war, and war will always breed new conflict. Peace must prevail.

1. The UN utilizes the 5-continent model, which differs from the 7-continent model in that Europe and Asia are considered as one, Eurasia, and Antarctica is not considered as it is not populated.

Day 3 – Chris Stawarski

Day three of the COP3 went a little differently than the first two days. Everyone got up early to catch an 8AM tram going to CERN. CERN is right on the border between Switzerland and France, and is home to the world’s largest particle accelerator. The large hadron collider (LHC) enabled physicists to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, an elementary particle in the Standard model of physics. We spent a few hours at CERN touring the facilities and learning a little bit about the work done there, after which we stopped at the gift shop in the lobby. Then, we got on the tram and got back to the convention center just in time for the afternoon plenary session.

After stopping at a food truck for some delicious hamburgers, the group went to find seats for the session. The President started with, as usual, setting the agenda for the session. The first item on the agenda was discussing guidance on the management of contaminated sites. To open these talks, Iran proposed an amendment to the text that emphasizes the importance of the transfer of technology and capacity building in the management of contaminated sites. Many parties, including Gabon, Peru, and Namibia supported the adoption of an amendment regarding contaminated sites. Namibia had what seemed to be one of the most controversial statements of the day, stating that Africa is the most important continent in the world thanks to its diverse wildlife, and parties with financial resources should aid Africa in rehabilitating its contaminated sites. The President funnily responded by saying that all the continents in the world are important. After a number of parties spoke, the EU stated that informal talks on this matter have been going really well and they were close to a consensus. After the parties spoke, observers were given the opportunity to speak, and IPEN noted that the two ways to help this issue is to stop the creation of contaminated sites and to provide support for already contaminated sites. To close on this topic, the President suggested that Iran, the EU, and the rest of the parties work on improvements to Iran’s proposal and return to the plenary. In his statement, the President also said that perfection is the enemy of progress, and that improvement can come later, but the parties need guidance now. This statement stuck with me and I think it is a good piece of wisdom that should be noted by all the parties at the convention. 

The next topic addressed was emissions from the open burning of waste. Japan opened the talks by saying that data available about emissions from the burning of waste is scarce, and that efforts should be made to help this issue. Japan also offered to collaborate with other countries on managing the open burning of waste, which several parties accepted. Argentina also requested that the Secretariat work on gathering more data on this sector to be better equipped for COP4 in 2021. Uganda also pointed out that a lot of open burning happens in homes or on the sides of streets, making it even more difficult to collect information. Guinea called for a deadline for parties to submit data regarding the open burning of waste, to which Lebanon agreed. A general theme to this portion of the plenary session is that it will be important in the future to collect better data on the open burning of waste. 

Next, the President quickly stated that the proposed dates for the fourth Conference of the Parties is October 31st through November 5th, 2021. There were no objections, so these dates were set and the President moved onto the final item on the day’s agenda, the Implementation and Compliance Committee (ICC). The Secretariat summarized the work of the ICC and the chair, a representative from Romania, presented the report on the work of the ICC with a focus on the appendices. The President proposed the adoption of Appendix II of this document to the parties, to which the US and the EU proposed amendments. Several parties, including Iran, initially disagreed with these amendments. Chile also asked for them in written form. This topic seemed very controversial among the parties, and they even took a short break to discuss the matter informally. When the parties reconvened, the President suggested that the US and EU submit their proposals to the Secretariat, and that all the parties should think about the matter overnight and discuss it the next day. Overall, this ending to the day seemed very chaotic, and unique in the sense that the parties seemed to be caught off guard by the proposed amendments by the US and EU. Although we only attended the afternoon plenary session, I found our third day at the conference to be the most interesting and I’m eager to see what conclusion the parties come to tomorrow regarding the ICC.

Day 2 – Katharine Ryan

The second day of the COP3 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury proved to be even more interesting than the first.  Upon arrival, it was clear by the energy in the room that the delegates were tired from working late into the previous night but were energized to re-enter the negotiations. The morning plenary session focused primarily on the management of dental amalgams and the establishment of harmonized system codes which would allow countries to more easily control international mercury trade.

The negotiations on dental amalgams proved to be an energetic and passionate topic on the agenda due to the economic and cultural disparities between parties.  Some parties voiced their concerns with existing mercury free substitutes because they were concerned with the longevity of such materials in areas where dental care is not as frequented.  Others believed that further emphasis on technology transfer needs to be examined due to the difficult training and cost intensive nature of dentistry especially in low income countries.  The majority of parties supported a “phase out” of mercury in dental care, however, the time frame of such a phase out was highly disputed.  The debate became even more intense when the NGOs were invited to take the floor.  Speakers from the NGOs were highly animated and used a combination of charisma and various statistics to speak on behalf of the safety (or lack thereof) of dental amalgams and to encourage funding for additional research and technology transfer. Finally, several parties urged the president to push the agenda item to COP4 once more research was complete.  However, the negotiations were directed to a smaller contact group by the president and tasked with formulating a draft decision.  Watching the delegates fight for their their countries’ interests was awe-inspiring and can only be compared to watching a Keeping Up with the Kardashians – but with much more at stake and more eloquent vocabulary.

For the lunch session, I decided to attend the Effectiveness Evaluation contact group.  In a smaller session, it was easier to watch parties communicate with one another and discuss topics in greater depth.  It was especially fascinating for me because I was seated behind the expert scientists responsible for data monitoring and modeling in respect to mercury cycling.  It was rather entertaining to watch the two hold a side conversation during the negotiation and exciting to see real scientists play a role in international policy making.  However, my favorite part of this session was when our professor, Dr. Todorova, had the opportunity to take the floor and speak from her expertise in the field.  I tried my best to suppress my proud smile as I watched my professor lend a hand to policy making in real time.

Later that evening, our class took a self-guided tour through Geneva’s Old Town.  We explored Saint Peter’s Cathedral, walked along cobblestone streets strung with Christmas lights, learned of Catherine Cheynel – a woman who defended the Swiss city by pouring hot soup on French invaders outside her window, and of course indulged in genuine Swiss chocolate for dessert.

Day 1- Jo Wicki

My first day at the 3rd Convention of the Parties (COP 3) of the Minamata Convention, was one filled with nervous excitement and anticipation. After months of preparing and familiarizing myself with mercury science and policy, the time had finally come to see environment policy in action. Through the research reports and simulations done in our class periods, I felt as though I was prepared to take on the convention, and I was thoroughly excited about the amazing opportunity that I was soon to experience.

The convention itself, although different than what I initially was expecting, was awe-inspiring. To see the representatives from the various parties, and the observers from the NGOs, IGOs and INCs, on the floor, discussing the very same topics that were discussed and debated on in class, was surreal. After the convention, the parties and all the observers attended a small reception hosted by Switzerland, which allowed for those participating in the convention to discuss matters in a more casual setting, with food and drink. While I was there, I spoke to several observers from Tanzania, Cameroon, Western Africa, the United Nations Environment Program, as well as some of the individuals from the Ghana party.

Sitting with Patricia Sampson (Director of Ministry of Information in Ghana)

As I spoke with them, I realized that there was one underlying theme in most, if not all, my conversations. That theme being that all these individuals, who were acting as a representative for either non-profit NGOs or state governments of themselves, were in reality honorably fighting for the well-being of their constituents. Although there is this misconception that politics and government systems are over-ridden with corrupt individuals, and while this may be true for some national governments, in my own personal experience, all the individuals I spoke with, genuinely wanted to be liaisons for the people of their countries to the global forum, so that they could better help their own communities.

Party representative, Patricia Sampson, Director for the Ministry of Information in Ghana, stated that she herself works on the ground in Accra, Ghana to help translate and implement the policies established on a global scale.

In speaking with these individuals, it was amazing to see the dedication in the way they spoke and the passion in their eyes. The immediate welcoming presence they gave off, made it all the easier to speak with them, allowing for an easy conversation that was regarded with true colleagueship.