The thing about Geneva is that it feels like just about anywhere— from its charming Parisienne cafes to its alarmingly brutalist apartment blocks and Thessaloniki-esque waterfront you really could be in countless other places. What’s more is that so few people in Geneva are actually from there; as one of the most international cities in the world it is home to people from every country you can think of, most of whom claim to have ended up there by accident.
I’ve spent the past month meeting diplomats, researchers, academics and civil servants, none of whom seem to have intended to end up where they currently are, chasing the world from the international hub of peace in Switzerland. This made me feel a whole lot more comfortable saying “I don’t know”. One of the powerful women we were lucky enough to meet was quite candid, and after being stumped by a question I put to her simple said, “I’m not sure, I’ve never thought about it before” and instead of giving me a half baked answer to save face, asked me to follow up with her later. One official, when asked about his professional trajectory said, candidly, “I wanted to be a filmmaker”. This theme of unintentional was present amongst many I encountered.
Just as Geneva is an amalgam of cities, its residents are from just about every place, field and walk of life you could name.
And if all these powerful, bright, intelligent people could end up saving the world by accident, I can’t help but wonder what one could do with intention.
For now, I’ve bid my sunrise goodbye to Switzerland— to sunsets with a picnic by the lake and to Sundays wandering the Alps, but to Geneva I’ve said, “see you soon”.