Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jumping for Joy

I'm done! I'm done! I'm done! Even though it was pouring rain and cold when I exited my last exam, I couldn't help feel anything but elated. I have yet to receive all my marks, but if I have passed everything, then I can legitimately say that I have survived law school! (In French nonetheless.) The novelty of finishing exams still hasn't worn off. I can now chat with my housemates after dinner without having to rush off and go study, read books that have nothing to do with law, watch movies and generally, just have a good time.

Jumping for joy - literally

 All this to say, I have not exactly been twiddling my thumbs for the past two weeks. I celebrated the end of exams by attending a conference: an international study day on the proposed amendments to the Rome Statute (for all my non-law readers, that's the legal foundation for the International Criminal Court). I was amazed as I looked down the list of participants - there were so many VIPs (at least in my eyes). I made sure to chat a few of them up over lunch ; ) I’ve also discovered that there are one-hour lunch time discussions at the nearby European Peacebuilding Liaison Office. The subjects vary from how to reintegrate Taliban fighters into Afghanistan to the impacts of donor and government policies on youth and urban violence.

A German dessert made with crushed meringue, cookies, nuts and dried fruit all delectablty covered in dark chocolate.

 I've also been devoting a lot of time to my internship at the Centre for International Law at l'ULB. I'm adding Canada's experience with universal jurisdiction to the information available on their website. (Again for the non-law people, universal jurisdiction is when you can prosecute an individual on Canadian territory regardless of where the crime was committed or the nationality of the perpetrator. At this very moment, the trial of Jacques Mungwarere is taking place in Ottawa. He is the second individual to be accused using Canada's universal jurisdiction laws which came into force in 2000. His case is related to acts that he allegedly committed in Rwanda during the genocide. I submit the third draft of my work to my supervising professor in two weeks so I had better get cracking on that. 

 I'm also still working at the Irish embassy as the Help. It continues to go really well. The kids have been excelling at school and eating food other than macaroni and cheese so I think I'm doing ok.

Most of my new house mates and some friends
 Funnily, after the race, I lost all motivation to run. I just didn't see the point anymore. I have therefore joined a touch-rugby team. "Touch-rugby" you say? You are quite right to chuckle - I had never heard of such a game either. Apparently the sport is gaining ground, particularly in the UK and Australia. It's co-ed so that ups the intensity a bit. I still have a hard time taking it seriously, being a former 'real' rugby player myself. It's kind of like a child's game of tag except the person you touch must be holding the ball. At the very least, it gets me exercising in fresh air and meeting new people. That is what I tell myself every time I feel the need to roll my eyes.

 I've also been doing some holiday stuff - I organised a huge house party last week which was great fun. The composition in my abode has changed significantly: out went a German and a Latvian girl, and in came a Brazilian and a Czech girl, and a German guy (but he has an English accent so in my mind, he's English). We're a great crew and the conversations at the dinner table are certainly entertaining. I also treated myself to a meal out and a shopping trip in Antwerp, and had brunch at my favourite cafĂ© Belga. I'm trying to appreciate every ounce of my stress-free life before I resume school again at the end of August.

voted once of the most beautiful train stations in the world
Ginger tea at Lombardia's in Antwerp = divine
Eclectic veggie meal at Lombardia's
 Some of you might recall my first blog entry (if not, scroll down) where I announced my lofty goal to meet Louise Arbour. She is someone who I have admired for quite some time. Not only has she had the career of my dreams (notably, she was a judge on the Supreme Court of Canada, Chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia and UN Human Rights Commissioner), but she is a Montrealer, a woman, and attended the same university as I have. That is why, after persistent and regular hassling, I freaked out when I was asked if I was free on Thursday to meet with her. My excitement soon gave way to nerves - what had I gotten myself into? I spent the eve of our encounter pouring over her most recent speeches and reports for International Crisis Group (of which she is President), making sure I knew as many details as possible regarding the state of the world's affairs. The morning of, I wore my most powerful power suit, took a few deep breaths and entered her office once I was given the green light. The meeting completely surpassed my expectations. She was warm, friendly, interested in what I was doing and eager to share her experiences. I had prepared a list of questions but I didn't turn to it once - our conversation flowed naturally from topic to topic. I kept on expecting her to say: ‘listen, it's been fun, but I've got to get back to work’ but she didn't! We talked for an hour before I insisted on not taking up anymore of her time. Then, as if I wasn't already walking on air, she said: don't hesitate to contact me if you need anything. Really? I replied, clearly in shock. She gave me her card which reassured me that she meant it. I had to restrain myself from hugging the FedEx man I shared the elevator down with - I wanted to shout out: I just met Louise Arbour!!! I’m not sure he would have been too enthused. So that pretty much made my day, week and year.

Me and my new friend Louise