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Senior hears call to disarm

A co-op with the Geneva Forum in Switzerland got Northeastern University senior Kenny Iannuzzi excited about working for a global cause.

“No matter what I do, it has to have some international tie to it,” said Iannuzzi, an international affairs major who returned from the experiential learning opportunity in June with a newfound interest in working for the United Nations.

“Working in an international capacity,” he added, “gave me a worldly feeling that involved something bigger than myself.”

The Geneva Forum is a disarmament initiative created by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. The goal of the initiative is to promote international peace and security by building partnerships between governments, international organizations and NGOs around issues of disarmament.

On co-op, Iannuzzi conducted research on unmanned weapons, nuclear non-proliferation and the Arms Trade Treaty in preparation for conferences on arms control.

He worked closely with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs to bring experts to the forum’s conferences.

Iannuzzi, who completed Dialogue of Civilizations programs in Geneva and India, thought he’d pursue fieldwork with NGOs in foreign countries after he graduated.

But that all changed when his experiential learning opportunity gave him a first-hand look at how “policy decisions made in small rooms affects what’s happening on the ground.”

The co-op, he said, made him think twice about the importance of policy-making and inspired him to look at disarmament as a potential career field.

“All of these people were trying to change policy with the humanitarian cause in mind,” said Iannuzzi, who explained that conferences held at the Geneva Forum gave delegates a chance to speak freely, sometimes against the positions of their states. “It’s hard to understand why disarmament is so important until you’re around people who have devoted their lives to it.”

He encouraged all Northeastern students to work and study abroad, calling it “the absolutely most rewarding experience that you’ll ever have,” and thanked professor Denise Garcia, who wrote a book on illicit arms trafficking throughout the world, for facilitating “an incredible opportunity that a lot of graduate students at other schools don’t get.”

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