by Annika Jernigan – World YWCA Intern
When Katie and I headed to our first day of interning at the YWCA, we did not know what to expect. We had been in Switzerland for less than a week, and were still getting used to things. Particularly, the use of public transportation and how exactly to read a map were among skills we hadn’t yet mastered. So, I believe we were mortified to be slightly late on our first day. When we eventually made it to the office, all was forgiven and we were greeted warmly. The atmosphere in the office was instantly charming.
In the coming weeks, we got to know the amazing women that fill this office, and the mission they carry. What is more is that everyone went out of her way to make us feel welcomed and comfortable. Many of our friends were interns for people who did not even know their names, and were a little jealous when we told them about our experience. Those supervising us always made sure to ask what we thought of the projects we were working on, and what we would like to work on next. Never were we given mindless tasks or busywork.
The women of this office cared what we had to say and made sure to let us know. They don’t just believe in the mission of the YWCA – they live it. I have learned so much from this experience, and I feel humbled to have had this opportunity. Never before have I been surrounded by such positive, strong, inspiring women. This office houses leaders who are unflinching in their conviction. My understanding of what it is to be a woman-to be a leader- is forever changed.
From attending events at the United Nations, to reviewing reports from Pacific countries, every assignment has broadened our view of the world. We have spent our time here laughing, learning, and working. Now that our time is coming to a close, the thing I will miss most about Switzerland is coming in to the YWCA office.
If I can retain even a fraction of what I have learned here, and share that with the women of my own community, I will be extremely proud. The work being done at the World WYCA office is absolutely vital to the advancement of women, and I am immensely grateful to have played any part in that. This experience has changed me for the better, and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life.