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A Seat in Switzerland


  Although it’s only the second largest Swiss city, Geneva is known as an “international metropolis” for its concentration of international organizations, including the European Headquarters of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Therefore, some joke that Geneva isn’t really part of Switzerland. I had long dreamt of going there, and my dream finally came true in June 2012 when I was invited to attend an international fair.

  I was deeply impressed by Geneva’s beauty and tranquility. From the front steps of the UN European Headquarters I looked off into the distance: Hills were covered with lush trees swinging in the breeze. The sun was a giant artist – the land was his canvas for a colorful painting of thriving plants. I enjoyed the aroma of flowers as well as the natural whispers brought by the breeze. Although I had visited the most beautiful cities in over 70 countries, my breath was forcefully taken away by Geneva.

  I turned my eyes to the building housing the UN European Headquarters: National flags of every UN member state fluttered in the sky. My eyes welled up when falling upon the one from my country.

  I always feel a rush of pride whenever I see it flying high abroad.

  Then, I shifted my eyes to the square and the giant Broken Chair. Measuring 12 meters tall and weighing in at five tons, the wooden sculpture was created by famous Swiss sculptor Daniel Berset for Handicap International to commemorate the Landmine Protocol, which went into effect in 1997. Every year, according to the sculptor, landmines kill or injure some 26,000 people around the world, a third of whom are children. The most landmine afflicted area of the world is Angola, Africa. Estimates put the country’s ac- tive landmine population higher than its human residents. Landmines have already taken the limbs of some 20,000 people.

  The sculpture is a chair standing on only three legs, symbolizing landmine victims who survived but lost limbs. With a leg missing, people too can still stand with dignity and fortitude.

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