Swiss Week in One Word: Brilliant

For the fourth time, social entrepreneur fellows attended an orientation week in Zurich, Switzerland, learning more about the Jacobs Foundation as well as the opportunities the Fellowship offers. Efe Gboneme, Jacobs Social Entrepreneur Fellow, shares her personal experience of the infamous Swiss Week. 

Let me start by saying this – what I saw of Switzerland is spectacular! Lake Zurich with the scenic mountain views as a backdrop is a beauty you’ve got to see with your eyes. Appenzell – quaint in all its glory – felt like I’d traveled back in time to a breathtaking European village in the 1900s. I tell you; pictures alone cannot do these places justice. But this is really just the beginning of what you should expect from Swiss Week.

Trip to Appenzell was like a travel back in time

What exactly is Swiss Week?

Swiss Week really is a meeting of minds – fascinating and brilliant minds from a variety of disciplines. Beyond the amazing folks you will meet and the intellectually stimulating conversations you will have, there is also time set apart to learn about the Jacobs Foundation and its benefactor, the Jacobs Holdings. I want to tell you so much more, but I’d hate to ruin the splendid experience that awaits you once you do decide to attend Swiss Week.

Swiss Week really is a meeting of minds

If there’s one thing I’d like for you to take away from this article, it is this: attend Swiss week if you have a chance – do not miss it! Below are a couple of key takeaways from my Swiss Week experience:

  • Early childhood education is crucial: As someone who is interested in quality education as a means of reducing poverty across the African continent, I was quite intrigued to learn about all the amazing work and research – sponsored by the Jacobs Foundation – in the early childhood education space. Did you know that high-quality early childhood education and care transforms people’s lifetime prospects, especially for those who are disadvantaged? Ultimately, the key lesson here is that it is imperative to pay close attention to the early stages (i.e. 0-5years) of a child’s learning and development as these times are really vital. 
  • “Rich” countries don’t always get it right: Switzerland, which has one of the highest GDP per capita ($78,816) in the world, does not invest enough in early childhood education. It took an effort called the “READY campaign” – led by the Jacobs Foundation – for the Swiss private and public sectors to start looking more closely at developing a policy that will encourage early childhood education in Switzerland. I must say, the Jacobs Foundation is quite an impressive group of intelligent and driven individuals who are pushing the boundaries even in locations (e.g. Switzerland) where one might think things are perfect. Quite fascinating!
  • There is hope for the world: I met some Fantastic interdisciplinary fellows (think journalists, educators, business fellows, researchers, etc.) at Swiss Week. It was quite inspiring to meet others who truly care about making a positive impact in the world. Major shout out to all the 2019 Jacobs Fellows I met at Swiss Week – thank you all for sticking it out with me especially through the Appenzell hike! I will cherish a lot of the memories we created together and look forward to all the great work we will accomplish towards making the world a better place.

Overall, Swiss Week was a fantastic experience and I loved every single bit of it. Major kudos to the Jacobs Foundation.

Efe Gboneme, Jacobs Social Entrepreneur Fellow

Efe Gboneme is a dual degree MBA and MPA candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Kennedy School of Government respectively. Prior to commencing her graduate studies, Efe was a consultant at PwC, and focused on business operations optimization. She is also the founder of a social enterprise – ReviewNaija – geared at encouraging Nigerians to share their experiences dealing with organizations operating in the country.

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