Countdown to Netherlands and Switzerland!

The countdown to my last big trip of the year is on, and I’m more than ready to go!

A couple months ago I got an invitation from the IKEA Foundation to join other IKEA co-workers and IKEA Foundation staff at the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Awards in Geneva, Switzerland this October 2-3. To say I was excited to get the offer would be an understatement. As you can see from my blog and Twitter feed I have a strong passion for the refugee cause having been given the opportunity to visit the UNHCR camps in Jordan a couple years ago with the IKEA Foundation as part of our iWitness program.

This trip will give me an opportunity to engage in discussion with the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR on how NGO’s can contribute to the refugee cause. I can see so many possible opportunities for growth and increased engagement and I’m very excited to share my thoughts and hear the thoughts of fellow IKEA and IKEA Foundation co-workers. We’ll have the opportunity to visit the UNHCR building in Geneva and then attend the Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony, with the winner to be announced soon (Sept 18th). The following morning we’ll get the opportunity to sit down for breakfast with the winner and hear more of their story.

Past winners of the Nansen Refugee Award have been pretty amazing – the last couple years have had some amazing human beings including members of a non profit rescue group who have saved more than 2000 refugee lives off the Greek coasts, an amazing woman who created a refugee shelter of her own in Greece and some other really amazing people. You can see more about past winners here if you’re interested.

Overall I’m super excited for the opportunity to attend and absolutely cannot wait.

Now of course, this is just two (very impactful) days out of 12! So what, you ask, will the other 10 involve? I’m glad you asked.

I’ll be starting the trip off with a trip to one of my favourite places in Europe, the Netherlands. I’m excited to see my cousin and her family there and also do a bit of exploring outside of Amsterdam this time. I love Amsterdam and really enjoy spending time there but I’m looking forward to branch out a bit too. I’ll be there for 3 full days before flying into Geneva the day before the award ceremony.

After things wrap up in Geneva I’ll make sure that I’ve had a chance to visit the Palais des Nations and the Red Cross museum before catching a train to Bern where I’ll be staying at a friends who has very generously offered up her place while she and her family are away (THANK YOU!!!!!!), though I’m sad I won’t get a chance to see them! I’ve bought the 8 day rail pass for Switzerland which gets me on pretty much any public transit and just about any museum so I’ll be making good use of that!

I’m excited to visit Interlaken, Montreux, Zermatt, take the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express, Iauterbrunnen, Jungefrau and anywhere else I can wander into, while using Bern as a home base as much as possible. I’m keeping the plans pretty loose so I can move things around as needed, I’ll only have a few days to explore a LOT so any suggestions are always welcome!

From there I’ll fly home out of Zurich getting in around 7pm, hopefully home by 8pm, in bed and then off to work the next day!

So that’s the plan! I’ll be taking pictures as we go of course, and I’ll do my best to blog as well. 22 days to go… 🙂