From students to chemical weapons – a week in the life…

This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.

23 November 2014

This week was a great example that, in this job, no two weeks, nevermind two days, are the same.  It was also an example of the humbling responsibility I am honored to have been given by my President!  Here’s a taste of my week:

  • Tuesday: Toured Spiez Lab in Spiez, Bern – a laboratory that is a division of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and whose vision is A World Without Weapons of Mass Destruction.  There – I got to see their facilities for testing for nuclear contamination, chemical weapons (they were one of the 4 labs worldwide to test and then verify the use of chemical weapons in Syria), biological agents (including a level 4 lab that is equipped to test and study such onerous biological items as Ebola),  and protective materials.
  • Wednesday: Presented at Minds100/the Swiss Innovation Forum in Basel, Basel Stadt– a group of 100 people to network/talk about innovation and how to propel it forward within Switzerland.  It was a subset event of the Swiss Innovation Forum at which I got to explore more ways to increase our economic ties via innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Thursday: Spoke at and visited Les Roches hotel school in Lens, Valais – Switzerland is known for its hospitality – with good reason.  One of the top hospitality schools in the world is Les Roches – up in the stunning mountains of the Valais.  In fact, it’s in the shadow of Crans-Montana.  I presented at their 60th Anniversary event and then toured the school with some of the students.
  • Thursday night: Celebrated the Japanese Emperor’s birthday – Ambassador Maeda and his wife hosted many people to celebrate Emperor Akihito’s birthday – including me and my husband.  It was an incredible testament to diplomacy and tradition!
  • Friday: Visited and spoke at the Kantonschule Obwalden .  Students represent the future (and the present, frankly).  Thus – I try to meet with as many students/student groups as I can so that I can hear and learn from them.  During my visit, I got to tour a couple of classes and then connect with their upper level students.  I love the questions students ask – which ranged from political challenges to chocolate preferences!

I did plenty of other things during the week, too, but this gives you just a taste for how incredibly varied any given week can be.  Enjoy!