August 14, 2015

Postcards from Geneva | ACM Day 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I popped over to Geneva for the Annual Curator's Meeting as part of the Global Shapers community.

I say popped, but that was most definitely not the case. After over 24 hours of flying, I was a complete zombie when I finally arrived in Switzerland. It was grey and muggy, and I was miserable. 2 flights, 3 buses and a taxi later, I slumped up to my hotel room around noon, crossing my fingers that I had a tolerable roommate for the week.

After brief introductions, my new amazing, sweet and pretty incredible roomie quickly sussed out my current mood and suggested we explore the town, reminding me that this would be one of the few afternoons off during the ACM. I knew our newfound friendship was off to a great start when she listed the different cafes and food options she had researched ahead of time. I was so right!

We explored Geneva for the rest of the afternoon, after picking up some baguettes and taking in the scenes as we sat in a park along the river, before heading back to the hotel for a quick powernap before the ACM opening ceremony. 

I was immediately drawn to the water in the city centre, it was crystal clear and bright blue! Though Geneva was peaceful and certain parts seemed quaint, I felt like I needed to give the city another chance before deciding whether I liked it or not. 


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting this Annual Curators Meeting experience to be similar to my life changing One Young World weekend in Pittsburgh a few years ago. The Global Shapers community has a similar vibe to it and I was really excited to be inspired and connected with cool people doing their bit to change the world. 


Maybe my power nap didn't set me in the right mood to begin with, but I felt really irritated by the patronising tone used during the ceremony. It felt like 'they' were trying to entertain children.  We had to sit through a gruelling 'concert' by two of the Global Leaders who had clearly stopped chasing their childhood dreams of musical superstardom. The music was awful, and it was a wasted opportunity to highlight one of the many local musical talents in Geneva. Not only that, but there was a ridiculous clip of a female silhouette dancing provocatively used as the backdrop to one of the acts. My inner feminist was fuming by the time the show was over.  I don't blame anyone who met me for the first time right after that concert for thinking that I was a serious debbie downer, but I was really hungry and pissed off by the time it was over. 

On a more positive note, the opening ceremony and cocktail reception was held at the beautiful Bâtiment des Forces Motrices - an old hydroelectric station dating back to 1886 that appears to swim in the middle of the Rhone River. I took a stroll around before and after the event and took in this magnificent building.



After a class of wine and too many canapés, I felt much better and started to take in the now buzzing atmosphere of the night. Over 400+ people were there from every corner of the globe, and though this was incredibly interesting, the conversations generally followed this routine:

"Where are you from?"
"What do you do?"
"What projects is your Hub working on?"

These three questions help someone decide whether they really want to talk to you or not. Events like this are just as much about the networking as they are about team building and Global Shapers camaraderie. Most people and a strategy in mind, and they weren't shy about it. I generally don't work like this and tend to get sucked up in storytelling, but I don't mind when people are pretty frank and clear about what they want from you. Coming from a small island that many people had never heard of before, I tend to get asked the same questions repeatedly. I understand that people are curious, but sometimes it gets kind of boring, so I tend to ask pretty random questions to shake things up a bit. Those who buy into my random questioning generally become friends, like this awesome chick pictured below:


Highlights of the first day: meeting and connecting with my awesome roommate and leaving the first event feeling buzzed and excited for the week ahead!

Please note that these opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the Global Shapers Bridgetown Hub.
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