ILO, Department of Labor Inspections, Geneva, Switzerland
In the Spring 2004 semester I interned for the United Nations International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked for the SafeWork Department of Labor Inspections. My duties included doing research to compile labor inspection information with a World Bank survey on occupational safety and health (OSH) and structure presentations for various health-promoting UN conferences in Europe. Most notably I prepared the presentation for the SafeWork “No Tobacco in the Workplace” Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Later in 2004 Ireland followed New York City’s laws and became one of the first nations to ban smoking in the workplace, a major step for an economy reliant on the pub industry.
Also on the work front I did research for a postwar Iraq OSH culture and labor inspection systems. This exciting research allowed me to use ideas for OSH that our department previously deployed in former Communist bloc European nations. My director sent me to the UN Fair Globalization Conference. I spoke in front of the 3,500-member audience in the UN Conference Room, filled with economists, NGO’s, and labor activists from around the world. Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and President Clinton’s top economic advisor, led the conference; I got a chance to personally chat with him and tell him that I read his book in Professor Turner’s class back in Ithaca.
The total internship experience was great because I got to meet so many different people and travel to incredible places. My best friends in Geneva hailed from Germany, South Korea, Britain, and Poland, just to name a few places of origin. I got a new perspective on foods, wines, and politics. I got a chance to translate what I had learned for years in ILR in Ithaca, New York to actual global policy implications for labor rights at the ILO in the international capital of the world. Intern friends traveled to Amsterdam, Venice, Florence, Paris, and Rome, where we met the late Pope John Paul II. A few of us skied the amazing French and Swiss Alps. Congeniality is the key word in Switzerland; my supervisors invited me over to their homes for dinners and took me traveling around the country on a few occasions. Lunch lasts for about an hour and a half and during this time I really got to know the people in my department, in other ILO departments, and in other UN organizations as well. The diversity and friendliness of Geneva’s people truly made this experience an unforgettable one.
- Mark Eskenazi, BS '06