Excerpt from a letter sent by Jennifer Rae

Prevessin-Moens, France May 26, 2001

‘Eight months later….what’s new – and am I sane?' 'It's about time!' will be your first thought, I am sure. After starting out with such good intentions, I find my communications with most have been few or non-existent. I am still incredulous at this opportunity that has fallen into my lap. I am enjoying it so much that I feel almost guilty (it's my Protestant background) …but of course that doesn't stop me! My apartment looks out on fields, cows and the Jura mountains. It is in a 3-story, 20-year-old build-ing and was renovated completely a year ago. I am relieved to have a place to come home to that is so very comfortable and in such a peaceful setting, since life can still be a lot of work here, even now.

The World Health Organization is in Geneva, a 10-minute drive with no traffic and double that in rush hour. I pass fields of canola and a herd of Canadian bison on the way, and frequently look up to see the belly of a jet which is landing on the runway within a hundred meters of the road. Such is life in the compressed European landscape. The subject matter and volume of work are huge. I read as much as I can, take in some and try to make sense of it all, but it is a real challenge. I am to take care of meeting preparations and records for our international committee, and help develop the content for a new web site linking countries who need funds for chemicals management to those who have them.

I am now an official founding member of the (all French speaking) Kiwanis Geneva- La Rosiere Club http://www.kiwanis-geneva.ch/index.htm, which just got its international charter ten days ago. We had a great celebration on the grounds of a chateau overlooking the botanical gardens and the lake, and now have a flag, a bell and hammer for use in rowdy meetings, and a whole list of projects to carry out in the community – for the children's hospital, for the home for battered women, etc.

I have made some very special friends in the club who have been instrumental in making me feel at home here. The only other plan for personal travel is a trip to California in July/August to see Mark and Erin, and a stopover in Ontario to see the parents. There is a work related meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in October, so we are all looking forward to that. I miss all of my friends and relations back home something fierce, but I knew that I would. That is the down side of what is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A big thanks to all of you who have sent e-mails and written letters to keep me company. I always reread them a few times to prolong the pleasure. If you can think of anything you would like me to send you from here, please let me know. And/or come and visit!!

Keep well, and lots of love