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.”