Week Seven: Global Zero, Washington, D.C.

November 29th, 2015

Katelynn Raney ’16 – Kurtz Fellow in Grassroots Advocacy

It’s hard to believe that I only have two weeks left here (now one technically as of writing this blog)! Our Campaign Kick-Off and Week of Action were stellar! We had great turn-out that brought together almost 40 people to connect and invigorate them for our brand new initiative. Together with the work of our supporters, we hope to put nuclear weapons as an issue on the map in the 2016 election. Thanks to the hard work of Global Zero staff and volunteers, we’ve already pushed the candidates to think about this tough issue and to come out with a platform to multilaterally reduce nuclear weapons. Already, we’ve interacted with many candidates on both sides of the aisle. Now it’s time to get them to put forward their platforms.

Meredith and Hillaryimg_1670

One of my consistent roles as an intern at Global Zero has been event-tracking, and much of this has been in the context of our Race to Zero: 2016 initiative. I’ve been responsible for mapping where candidates are going so that our team can be there, on the ground and ready. I did a lot of the development and maintenance of it, and now I worked on creating the guide for whomever takes over the job when I head back to Iowa. In addition, I would work with Lilly’s New Hampshire volunteers to tell them about events that were happening in their area (since she’s the one who typically organizes them but she went on vacation this week).

Those were the majority of my responsibilities at work, but we did have two more debate rapid responses over the week. Saturday’s Democratic Debate in Des Moines, Iowa lead to an extremely exciting moment for our organization when, during a conversation on foreign policy, Bernie Sanders said something almost exactly with Global Zero language.

Here’s us at the office!

I finalized the tabling earlier on in the week, and have just been preparing for my return to Iowa next week. I’m planning for an exciting last weekend too! While it’s been great to relive certain experiences from my We The People trip, I’ve also realized that I have the opportunity to explore much more than I did then. Now, there’s so much more that I’m able to do with my independence, so why not experience the city like a local?

For next week, I think I’ll reflect on my three goals for the internship and about my overall experience in the city. Until then, thanks for checking in!

I've learned a lot since I was here last. i wanted to take a follow-up shot (on the left) to one that I absolutely loved the last time I was here with my friends (on the right).

I’ve learned a lot since I was here last. I wanted to take a follow-up shot (on the left) to one that I absolutely loved the last time I was here with my friends (on the right).

Week Six: Global Zero, Washington, D.C.

November 29th, 2015

Katelynn Raney ’16 – Kurtz Fellow in Grassroots Advocacy

With our big November 8th launch coming up, I spent the vast majority of my week preparing for it. Both Zach and Lilly were out of the office, so it was impressively quiet. Later on in the week, most everyone else left as well! I definitely couldn’t wait to have everyone back the following week. I had the chance to also visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum! My boyfriend and his family work in the aeronautics industry; since getting to know more about the science behind them I’ve been a lot more interested in them.


For Nov. 8th, we set a goal of 10 RSVP’s and 5 shows from student organizations in the nearby area. This meant emailing, Facebook messaging, and following-up were a major daily task for me (for both student organizations and professors). In addition, because our launch is supposed to be followed by a Week of Action at local colleges and universities, Zach tasked me with setting up whatever we needed in order to table at Iowa State University and Drake University. I learned a lot about the application process for using a university’s facilities (be they public or private), and they’re definitely interesting. I didn’t expect the process to be quite as involved as it was, especially with insurance requirements.

Besides my usual event-tracking and power-mapping, I spent time supporting the work our Field Organizers were doing by taking care of any additional projects that they didn’t have the time/ability to complete while doing field work. I helped out with a couple of special event permits for future Global Zero events and also kept working away at or Twitter followership.

Otherwise that was my week! I learned a lot about the skills it takes to be an organizer (well, at least learned about them, no guarantees about implementation). It’s very impressive and intensive work, and I was surprised by all the metrics and theory behind it.

Quick shout-out to learning elements of adult life: learning how to cook! Though it’s tough (and was a little unrealistic) to make every single meal all the time, I’ve had the chance to learn more than I would have otherwise if I wasn’t living off-campus! I’ve made some meals that I’m pretty proud of, like an absolutely delicious bouillabaisse!


Week Five: Global Zero, Washington D.C.

November 29th, 2015

Katelynn Raney ’16 – Kurtz Fellow in Grassroots Advocacy

The 26th through the 31st marked the beginning of my own work towards Global Zero’s upcoming launch for their brand new initiative! More details to come on that after the formal launch of it (but it looks like it’s going to be extremely exciting, and I wish I was actually able to be in Iowa for it)! It’s so strange to think that my time here in D.C. is already past the half-way point. I feel like there’s so much that I’ve learned, and it’s only helped me realize just how much more learning I have left to do in my life! The transition between college life and my internship with Global Zero was certainly a little jarring. While I haven’t had to experience certain elements of adult life in full-force (queue drum roll for the day that I have to think about purchasing my own insurance), I’ve had a level of responsibility for myself that, until this point, I hadn’t experienced before. Meal-planning, learning more about transportation (knowing that I don’t have a car to fall back on), taking a (completely by myself), and learning how to take pleasure and comfort in alone time.

I am what I would refer to as a “chronically busy” individual.  Not in the sense that I have a lot of responsibilities and duties that I want to fulfill, but that I am always finding ways to fill my time so that I always feel ‘busy’. I’ve always viewed time spent in ‘unproductive’ ways as ‘useless’. One of the meaningful lessons I’ve been learning from this internship is the absolute necessity of self-care. And not just that, but getting to experience life in ways that aren’t just defined by the phrase: “what work do I need to do today?”. While I have a lot of difficulty unplugging from that because of the many different things I want to accomplish, I don’t want my life exclusively defined by a full schedule. They’re behaviors that I’m slowly unlearning, and by no means will I likely be there anytime soon, but that I wouldn’t have had the chance to start the process in college without the experiences that I’ve had at this internship. That you can work hard and still should invest time for yourself.



Most of my time during the week was split between list-building, editing materials for our Global Zero volunteers, and recruiting for our Nov. 8th launch! I’ve done a lot of work on the early stages of organizing/recruiting with past list-building that I’ve done, but now I’m going to start working on the later steps of actually integrating people who are interested into the movement. I’m doing it specifically withing the context of this event, and Zach has been working with me on a specific timeline for that.

He graduated from Green Corps, an intensive environmental activism and grassroots organizing program. I learned a little bit about certain organizing skills related to the work I was doing, and it was definitely interesting to see that you can expect certain statistics and returns from certain actions. Like, if you have X number of people RSVP to come to an event, you can expect roughly 50% of them to show up (not accounting for other potential factors). Throughout the week this translated into a lot of emails, learning how to personalize an email list, and then working on a strategy to get in touch with people who’s emails bounced.

On the 28th we also did some debate rapid-response. Most of the office got together at a co-workers house as we listened in to the Republican Debate.

We tried to get a tweet up on the live-stream which unfortunately didn’t happen, but it was great to spend another night with everyone as we worked to get nuclear weapons up as an issue the candidates discussed. But it did lead to one of my favorite graphics of the night:

At the end of the week though, we took a break to spend the day before Halloween together! I didn’t expect to be doing pumpkin carving that day (and admittedly put my costume together at the very last minute). You don’t need to see pictures of my jack-o-lantern because it turned out terribly. The one I did at home with my housemates turned out much better (and it still wasn’t too great).

Pumpkin Carving

It was supposed to be a tree. I don’t know what it actually looks like now, but it certainly isn’t that.

Week Four: Amazon Rainforest – Jatun Sacha

November 29th, 2015

Bailey Robb ’16 — Hosford Fellow in Philosophy and Environmental Ethics

Days 12 and 13

I spent the weekend in Baños, which is a 3 hour bus ride from Tena (a 40 minute bus ride from my station). I had a really great time staying at a hostel with wifi but we also went zip-lining in the rain and saw the Swing at the End of the World. After my sojourns in civilization, I’m always ready to go home to Jatun Sacha and the Rainforest.



Day 14

Jonas was not here today so I went back to the future corn/yucca field to machete down trees and clear the ground of organic matter that won’t decompose fast enough. We leave a cover of organic matter (like leaves or small branches) on the ground to decompose because rainforest soil is not nutrient rich and the necessary nutrients are easily consumed in a single planting season. This leads to the ‘slash and burn’ method of agriculture, which is unsustainable and harmful to the environment.

I had a traumatic experience involving a dying grasshopper that has inspired me to start writing a section of my thesis paper. A huge part of pragmatic ethics, what my thesis paper is on, is navigating through compromises. In the real world, people cannot always get what they want like they can in a philosophical ideal and I’m learning that first-hand.

Day 15 and 16

A new scientist came to the reserve and he needed an assistant for a project his team has been working on since the 80’s and I volunteered for the task. There’s a 100 meter x 100 meter plot where every tree has been identified and measured. People go back every 4 years to measure the trees, check if they’re still alive, and catalog new trees.  This is important work because it gives us valuable knowledge on how fast trees grow, when they mature, when and how frequently they die (and hopefully how they die). People need to start planting rainforest, even if it will be secondary forest and the data Jatun Sacha is gathering will let scientists and conservationists know what kinds of trees to plant and in what quantity, how long they take to mature, and what the greatest threats to their survival is.

Nothing, of course, can rival primary rainforest and that is why it is of the utmost importance that we protect what little rainforest remains.


The view from the 30 meter observation tower

Day 17

Today, I returned to the botanical gardens to do work on in the nursery. There have been a lot of heavy downpours recently and much of the reserve is waterlogged.


A stretch of Jatun Sacha’s land from the observation tower

Day 19-22

Jatun Sacha has administrative and financial work they need to handle and I decided it would be best for myself and Jatun Sacha if I caught a ride back to Quito with another volunteer to stay at the volunteer house where I was when I first came to Ecuador. It’s been an extremely peaceful stretch of time. I have dogs, I have wifi, and I finally have access to a laundry machine. When I return to the Amazon, the other volunteers will thank me for that.


Week Three: Amazon Rainforest – Jatun Sacha

November 29th, 2015

Bailey Robb ’16 — Hosford Fellow in Philosophy and Environmental Ethics

Day 8

I’m really only beginning my second week in the Amazon (8th day) but it’s my third week in Ecuador. A new volunteer came and she wanted to shower but there was a frog in the shower and I told her “oh it’s fine, I shower next to the frogs all the time, better than that time there was a snake”. Only a few minutes later, did I realize how absurd that was. Who showers next to snakes and frogs? I attached a picture of just a few of the bugs I showered with one day. The bug diversity here is astounding and sometimes scary but I can’t worry about things like this anymore.


I already had a sleepless night because I was so concerned by the fact that everything I own is damp (I have a notebook that’s curled up because of the humidity and it hasn’t left my desk). There’s no use in worrying about things like frogs in the shower, damp notebooks, or the fact that I got bit by something and my ankle is now the size of a fat kiwi. I’ll definitely keep an eye on it.

Monday and Tuesday were part of a long weekend due to the holidays so we did not work on the reserve, except for an unexpected 3 km walk down the highway to get sawdust for the chickens. We spent the afternoon on Tuesday at a beach famous for having monkeys. This trip did not disappoint.



Day 9

12233053_714746471992121_412698387_nAfter the rainstorms Monday and Tuesday, some of the seedlings in the nursery have had ample water to grow so we spent the morning tending to and caring for the baby trees. We also cleaned and prepared the botanical gardens for a group of scientists who are coming this week.

During the rainstorm last night, I experienced being cold for the first time since leaving the mountains in Quito last week. It’s hard to compare that cold to the cold I felt during my two week excursion to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Field Station last year. I was a part of Professor Hankins’ Wilderness Literature and Arts class, which physically and practically prepared me more for this experience than any amount of reading and studying could. Reminiscing on my adventure in the freezing cold BWCA makes my time here seem like a vacation.

Day 10

The day started off pretty normal when Jonas told us to sweep the cabins and the labs, to make sure they were ready for the group of 15 or so biologists and then Brianna (the other American volunteer) found a piece of poop. Apparently, this poop could belong to Christiana, the escaped capybara so abruptly and without warning, we were swept into a desperate hunt for the glorified guinea pig. Of course, since I thought we were staying on the reserve with the biologists and it wasn’t even 8 am, I was wearing shorts, tivas, and a sleeveless World of Warcraft shirt. We did not stay on the reserve – not even close.

In essence, we ran up and down a bumpy path through the jungle until we made it to the tower, which Max climbed to scout for Christina. They claim she’s domesticated so apparently, if you call her name and she hears you, she will come running. We called her name; she did not come running. We made it to the logging site that we ventured to last week but this time, we cut across where trees have already been cut and in their place has grown sharp, tall grass. I had to scoot across a fallen tree that was about 15 feet long (it was that, go down a ravine that had an incline of 90 degrees and was waist deep water at the bottom, or run across the log and I have horrible balance and Cornell Fellows does not condone me risking my life). Since no one brought water to sweep the cabins, I drank lemons (lemons or muddy water). I mentioned I was wearing shorts and sandals…Well I’m now wearing shorts, sandals, 315,000 paper cuts from a 2 hour trek across hills covered in vicious prairie grass, and a permanent frown from eating 3 lemons.

It’s 3:58 and I’ve only just got back to the reserve. To be fair, I made it back slightly later than everyone else because I refused to hitchhike on the back of a motorcycle the other volunteers flagged down once we got to the road. I don’t know what kind of a motorcyclist picks up a group of girls waving machetes but it’s not the kind I want to ride with.

Day 11

Today, I returned to the tree nursery with Jonas and we pruned some baby trees to help them grow. Part of Jatun Sacha’s goal is to promote and catalogue rainforest biodiversity. The botanical gardens I am helping to maintain and expand have a medicinal garden, a hallucinogenic garden, an orchid garden, a tree nursery, among others. If people knew how many important and useful species the rainforest houses, they may not be so eager to cut it down for corn fields.


Week Two: Amazon Rainforest – Jatun Sacha

November 29th, 2015

Bailey Robb ’16 – Hosford Fellow in Philosophy and Environmental Ethics

Day 1 (real day 1)

Today is the first day of block 3 at Cornell and I can definitely say this is the roughest first day of the block I’ve ever had (although I’m guessing it will be my best 4th week). It’s also a Monday, meaning that TWRG had their general meeting and Environmental Club had the e-board meeting. Although I’m remarkably happy to be here, I feel like I’m missing so much and a part of me is envious of the people in Jim White’s environmental ethics course.

I arrived at Jatun Sacha (my field station in the Amazon Rainforest) after 10 hours of travel with 90 pounds of luggage.

It certainly is humid but that’s never bothered me much and it started raining a few minutes after I managed to get my suitcase into my cabin (there’s a miniature hike to get to my cabin – or to get anywhere on the reserve) but thus far there have been no bugs. I’m eager to have my orientation and to start working for the foundation and on my thesis paper to help give me a sense of routine.

Day 2

At 8, we (3 other volunteers and 3 coordinators) took a walk through the jungle (past a river which I intend to swim in some day). At a certain point we stopped and Max (one of the coordinators who only speaks in Spanish and in animal impressions) handed me a machete and indicated that he wanted me to start chopping. I don’t do much chopping in my regular life so I was mildly perplexed by this task.

We spent the morning clearing dense jungle for the purpose of growing corn and yucca (potatoes). This project will benefit the local community and will help to sustain the reserve as it grows since they need to feed staff and volunteers. One of the coordinators had a chainsaw but everyone else had a machete (and everyone else was significantly better with the machete than I). We cleared a chunk of forest (about 3 acres). Dr. Andy will probably be pleased to hear that I wore pants today and I’m blistering on my hands (that means I’m working hard).

When we resumed work after lunch, the task was more my style. We fed the animals (chickens, pigs, and a capybara), planted yucca and tended to the fledgling banana plants.  Even though I know cutting down the trees is necessary to grow gardens, I still feel more comfortable (ethically) with planting. Today I found 3 geckos and a bat outside my cabin. I take back what I said about there being no bugs because I’ve already seen one spider that made me consider leaving and I showered next to a spider who stared at me trying to determine if I was edible.


Day 3

I only needed a few minutes in Ecuador to learn there are fewer rules to everyday life than there are in the United States. Last night, we took a taxi back from Tena with 5 people in a 3 person back seat and it felt like we were traveling quite fast! Today, Max told us that we would go for a hike at 8am to check on the trails and we did not leave until 1:45pm. Jonas carried a machete onto a public bus. We asked a local guy for a ride down the river in his motorized boat and I sat on the ledge or stood at the front for most of the ride to get pictures. On the way back from the hike, some guys gave us a ride back to the reserve in their truck, with several of the crew sitting in the back of the truck and some in the kayaks they were hauling (Max and I sat in the backseat of the actual truck). I think all of this would be frowned on in the United States.

However, there are some rules in the Amazon and tomorrow we’re going to be reiterating some of them to the locals. From my limited Spanish and the translation of others I’ve learned that Jaime (the director of the reserve) found out that there’s illegal logging occurring near Jatun Sacha. Tomorrow, we’re going to ‘investigate’ (that’s the only word I was able to translate) to gauge the extent of the logging and to check on the more remote trails.

Today, the capybara escaped. I saw a tarantula at breakfast and started screaming (that made Jaime pick him up with a machete and offer to cook him for me to which I replied “no gracias” and he let the tarantula go right outside of the dining hall). I caught a gecko and he bit me. There was a very large grasshopper climbing on my flannels and he bit me. I found a giant caterpillar and he did not bite me. Lastly, I saved a small snake who someone accidentally hit with a rake. Everyone thought he was dead until I picked the little guy up and gave him the touch of life. I really do love animals but this reserve is testing that love.



Day 4 & 5

I returned from the two day hike in one sweaty, gross, bug bitten piece.  Three other volunteers, Jonas the conservationist and guide, and Max (I am currently unaware of his role) ventured offsite to Jatun Sacha’s protected plot of rainforest to investigate claims of illegal logging, which we found about an hour out (the rather barren looking picture is of an abandoned logging site). Hearing the echoes of trees being chopped down was one of the most distressing sounds I’ve ever heard. From there, we worked to estimate the amount of trees  being cut and we continued on, checking on other sites and the extent of the illegal logging. Jonas was very invested in certain trees and I followed him on smaller treks off-path to check on those trees (most are endangered species or are very old from what I can gather).

We spent the night in one of Jatun Sacha’s remote cabins about 5 hours away from basecamp and hiked back in the afternoon. I’m spending the weekend in Tena at Jaime’s house (the director of Jatun Sacha) so that I can use his internet and spend Halloween through Day of the Dead with his family.




Week Three: Museo De Arte De Puerto Rico, Santurce, Puerto Rico

November 17th, 2015

Kristal Viera ’16 — Wallman Fellow in Art History

After finishing up my research on the history and culture of Puerto Rico, I started looking into the music of “La Plena” (the subject of the mural). “La Plena” is a mix of creole and Spanish music that developed on the south side of the Island in the early twentieth and late nineteenth century. It has a simple composition made up of five or less stanzas with the chorus repeated two to four times. Traditionally, musicians would use panderetas (tambourines without the metal zils), a guiro, a cuatro (Puerto Rican guitar), maracas, and congas. As time went on, a trumpet or trombone was also added. The thing that separates “La Plena” from other musical forms like “Bomba,” a genre that is also from Ponce, is that the songs of “La Plena” are written about events or everyday things. This is why the genre earned the nickname of the singing newspaper. It now represents a musical documentation of Puerto Rican history and folklore.

A LA Plena poster by Rafael Tufiño

A LA Plena poster by Rafael Tufiño

I went searching for the musical scores and recorded performances as soon as I started to learn more about the genre’s history. Check out this video of a group of singers, singing three of the more popular songs: “Cortaron Elena,” “Temporal,” and “Santa María.”



Most of my energies are devoted to finding the lyrics to the more popular songs referenced in the mural that I am investigating. My next step will be working on translating them. This information will help me better understand the iconology of the painting. So far, I have been able to find only a few of the songs.

Santa Maria music sheet with art by Rafael Tufiño and Lorenzo Homar

Santa Maria music sheet with art by Rafael Tufiño and Lorenzo Homar

This weekend was very sunny and hot so I took a trip to the Beach with my aunt! It was a nice change of pace after a long week of research. The water was clear and warm and the sun just perfect. Check out some photos!

View of the beach

View of the beach


My aunt and I at the beach

My aunt and I at the beach


Beach at sun set

On Sunday, I went to the Museum of Art in Ponce, which was a great experience. The museum owns a number of art works by Puerto Rican painters like Jose Campeche and Antonio Martorell. The Ponce art Museum has such a wide verity of Puerto Rican artists that you can see the history of growth and transition of culture in Puerto Rico. Many of these works were featured in the book Puerto Rico: Arte e Identitdad Hermandad De Artista Gráficos de Puerto Rico which I read last week. This book is composed of a series of essays, and they helped me understand the history and culture of Puerto Rico as it pertained to the art world.

Museum of art in Ponce

Museum of art in Ponce

View from of Ponce from the top of the Museum of Art

View from of Ponce from the top of the Museum of Art

Museam of art of Ponce

Museam of art of Ponce

Their was a special exhibit at the museum this month that focuses on the life work of Antonio Martorell one of the artist featured in Puerto Rico: Arte e Identitad. He is also one of the writers for Rafael Tufiño: Pintor Del Pueblo; this was the first book I read and my primary source for the artist Rafael Tufiño. Tufiño painted the mural La Plena. Antonio Martorell not only contributed to the book, but he was also a student of both Lorenzo Homar and Rafael Tufiño. The influence of these two great artists can be seen in the artworks on display in the exhibition. During my visit, I was able to take a two-hour tour of the museum that focused on the history of artists from Puerto Rico and the different art movements that where influenced by Puerto Rico’s rich culture and also influenced it in turn.

Poster for the exhibit Antonio Martorell : El Papel del Retrato

Poster for the exhibit Antonio Martorell : El Papel del Retrato

After seeing the visual growth of different influential Puerto Rican artist, I explored the European exhibitions of the museum. While wandering through the building, I also discovered a mural by Rafael Ríos Rey, another Puerto Rican artist from the fifties. His mural is also about “La Plena,” and will give me an interesting comparison to that of Rafael. Being in Ponce was a great experience, and I hope to return again before leaving!

Here are some more photos of Ponce!

Museo de los Bomberos Museum of fire figters Ponce

Museo de los Bomberos /Museum of fire fighters Ponce


Some lion statues in Ponce

Some lion statues in Ponce


Vintage car in Ponce

Vintage car in Ponce


Museo Castillo Serrallés anouther museum i went to while in ponce that showcases the history of the sugar cane and rum history of ponce

Museo Castillo Serrallés
anouther museum i went to while in ponce that showcases the history of the sugar cane and rum history of ponce


Museo Castillo Serrallés garden

Museo Castillo Serrallés garden


View of Ponce from Museo Castillo Serrallés

View of Ponce from Museo Castillo Serrallés


Ponce statue of Don Q

Ponce statue of Don Q


A pretty flower Bush in Ponce

A pretty flower Bush in Ponce


Town Church in Ponce

Historic Church in Ponce

View of the ocean in Ponce at sun set

View of the ocean in Ponce at sun set

Week One: Ubelong, Amazon River Basin, Ecuador

November 12th, 2015

Bailey Robb ’16 – Hosford Fellow in Philosophy and Environmental Ethics

I have been afforded the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Cornell Fellows program as an International Fellow in Environmental Ethics and philosophy. For my fellowship I will spend 8 weeks in the Amazon Rainforest at the Jatun Sacha Biological Research station where I will be a volunteer, assisting in conservation, reforestation, and environmental education. For this week, however, I am cozily inhabiting the volunteer house in Quito with two other Ubelong members who are doing a childcare program. I’m calling this house cozy because 1) there are no bugs 2) there is internet 3) there are dogs. My particular house has 4 dogs of various breeds including a lab and a golden retriever (Cookie, Thomas, Elvis, Chiquita) and I love them.





I’ve spent 4 days in Quito (the capitol of Ecuador, nestled high in the mountains). I’ve visited graveyards, indigenous markets, the downtown, and I ventured to an elevation of 14,000 feet to see a volcano scheduled to explode in 1-2 months. Although I am looking forward to actually setting foot in the Amazon Rainforest, I am terrified of getting there. I need to take a 6 hour bus ride (if everything goes perfectly it will be 6 hours) with several connections to Tena first and then I need to get to the biological station, which is in the actual rainforest.


This is very unfortunate primarily because I packed a lot. Everyone told me not to over pack and I don’t think I did because everything I brought is necessary (if you’re me). I am prepared for basically anything that could happen, except for of course getting all 3 of my bags (a backpack, a giant purse that I can sit in, and a suitcase) physically into my cabin. I weighed all my bags and myself and they weigh about 1 pound more than I do so my struggle is real but if there’s anything I’ve learned from my 3 years and two blocks at Cornell, it’s that I am capable of doing anything (except usually my housemates lift heavy things for me so this will be a true test).

Additionally, I do not speak Spanish. Whenever someone speaks to me in Spanish, I either tilt my head or I reply in French (Je parle francais! Pas l’espagnol! Et je parle anglais…). I did not know that I could still speak French as fluently as I can until all I heard around me was Spanish and I started thinking in French. I have a Spanish phrasebook and so far I’ve highlighted the pages for “I’m sorry”, “I’m a vegetarian”, “How can I help?”, and “I’m sorry I did not mean to make that mistake”. I figure that’s what a Midwestern girl like me really needs to know. I also put a lot of work into figuring out how to say ‘philosophy’ in Spanish (Filosofia).

I’ve told the other volunteers not to help me too much because part of this fellowship, for me, is about learning practical life skills. Intellectually and academically, I’m feel prepared for life but I still struggle with some basics. This is a very immersive, complex experience for me. I leave tomorrow morning, in a mere 6 hours. It’s scary, but I think I’m ready.

In any event, before I leave, I want to thank the Cornell Fellows program and staff members (Rebecca, Jason, RJ) and the great donors who make fellowships possible. Without their support, I would not be able to work with such an amazing program. I want to thank my housemates who were all so supportive and gave me nothing but encouragement the night before I left. I might not have made it out the door if not for Hannah, Eliza, and Vanessa promising me I could do it on my own. Finally, I need to thank my faculty sponsor, academic advisor, and favorite person, Professor Jim White. Professor White’s guidance and tranquil presence have been unfailing in the weeks leading up to my departure and he is the entire reason I’m able to do any work in environmental ethics.

Week 2: Museo De Arte De Puerto Rico

November 10th, 2015

Kristal Viera ’16 — Wallman Fellow in Art History

Hello again! Most of my second week in Puerto Rico was filled with rain; perhaps that was a good thing as it kept me from wanting to go outside and enjoy the sun instead of doing research. This week I have certainty learned a lot of very interesting things about Puerto Rico. Last week I concentrated on researching the artist Rafael Tufiño. I learned many things about his life, ideals, influences and his artistic process.

Pintor de la Pueblo first book I used to for my research about Rafael Tufiño

Pintor de la Pueblo
first book I used to for my research about Rafael Tufiño

One recurring theme appeared in the readings and interviews that I examined, was his goal to revitalize Puerto Rican culture, because Puerto Rico was dealing with a cultural identity crisis. So this week, I focused my attention on the history of the Island and its culture. What I found was very eye opening. In 1898 after the Spanish American war, Puerto Rico was handed over too the control of the United States. The result was that Puerto Rico lost many freedoms and rights that they had recently gained from the Spanish crown. The budding self–appointed democratic government of the island was disbanded and a military regime run by Americans was put in place. By 1900, the government had switched to a three branch legislative system, but it was completely run by United States officials. The governor was now appointed by the president. This meant no elections and no natives could hold office. Furthermore, the United States changed, or at least they tried to change, the language from Spanish to English so that islanders could assimilate into American culture. They also changed to name of the island to Porto Rico and banned people from participating in nationalist activities such as events, meetings, music, and propaganda etc. Today Puerto Rico is still an unincorporated territory of the United States. The USA was trying to eliminate all influences of the island’s Spanish past. I learned that islander’s received citizenship for the first time in 1917 and supposedly received benefits as well as the ability to freely move between the United States main land and work there. Although they received citizenship, they were still treated as second-class citizens and often taken advantage of. Furthermore, the shift to capitalism and control over land in Puerto Rico robed the island of its economy forcing the islanders into poverty.

The United States launched many campaigns trying to enculturate the Puerto Rican people to an American value system. After over fifty years of these cultural attacks, the effects were obvious. In the 40s and 50s, there was a major identity crisis on the island. Rafael Tufiño and other artists of his generation felt this crisis keenly and made it their life goal to restore lost Puerto Rican culture through public works, media, and the arts. It was very encouraging to see Rafael Tufiño mentioned frequently as a prominent figure in this movement and the revitalization of Puerto Rican culture. One book, Puerto Rico: Arte e Identidad Hermandad De Artista Gráficos de Puerto Rico, was critical for my work and mentions Tufiño. The text contains seventeen different essays that cover the history and the culture of the island from 1750s to the 1990s. This rare analysis fully explained both the history and the culture of the island as it pertained specifically to the art world.

Puerto Rico: Arte e Identidad Hermandad De Artista Gráficos de Puerto Rico, The second book I have used in my research

Puerto Rico: Arte e Identidad Hermandad De Artista Gráficos de Puerto Rico,
The second book I have used in my research

I also met with museum Director Doreen Colon this week and we discussed different research topics that I should address while at the museum. She has even given me some names of people associated La Plena, and gave me a contact who has done some significant research work on Rafael Tufiño. As it turns out, she is currently living in my hometown. How cool is that!

Other than complete copious amounts of research this week, I explored the streets of Santurce. And how beautiful it is! Around every corner there are amazing works of art! Street-art culture here seems to be strong, and I have enjoyed finding all of these hidden treasures. This weekend, I went to Corozal and Bayamon, where I ate some wonderful traditional food and spent time with my Uncle. I am looking forward to visiting Ponce next weekend. Ponce is a city located on the south side of the island, and it is one of the oldest cities in Puerto Rico; it was the island’s capitol during Spanish rule. This visit also is significant for my research, as Ponce was the original location of the painting La Plena and also where the musical genre of the same name originated. Ponce has a long and interesting history and has had a hand in influencing the culture of Puerto Rico. They also have an amazing art museum that holds the most extensive collection of European paintings in the Caribbean and includes works by Velázquez and Rubens. I am very excited to get to explore Ponce and learn more about its interesting history!

Here are some Photos I took this week:

Some cool vibrant Street Art in Santurce

Some cool vibrant Street Art in Santurce


Some more cool Street Art in Santurce

Some more cool Street Art in Santurce


This guy is holding a traditional Puerto Rican musical instrument called "güiro" It makes a ratchet like sound

This guy is holding a traditional Puerto Rican musical instrument called
It makes a ratchet like sound


Street art in Santurce

Street art in Santurce


This is a really cool image I found while walking the streets of Santurce If you look closely at the sombrero their are symbols that represent Puerto Rico

This is a really cool image I found while walking the streets of Santurce
If you look closely at the sombrero their are different symbols that represent Puerto Rico


This quote by Julia De Burgos a famous Puerto Rican poet translates I think into "Being overcome by life is worse than being overcome by death"

This quote  is by Julia De Burgos a famous Puerto Rican poet
translates I think into
“Being overcome by life is worse than being overcome by death”


Some fresh Plantains!

Some fresh Plantains!


This is some delicous traditional food I ate this weekend The yellow things are called Tostones which are green fried plantains in the middle is whire rice and Habichuela's con salsa not slalsa like with tortilla chips but a sauce made with tomato's and sofrito

This is some   delicious traditional food I ate this weekend
The yellow things are called Tostones which are green fried plantains
In the middle is Whie rice and Habichuela’s con salsa
not slalsa like with tortilla chips but a sauce made with tomato’s and sofrito


Some Fresh picked Carambola's also known as star fruit because when cut open it looks like a star

Some Fresh picked Carambola’s also known as star fruit because when cut open it looks like a star.

Week Four: Global Zero, Washington, D.C.

November 6th, 2015

Katelynn Raney ’16 – Kurtz Fellow in Grassroots Advocacy

It’s difficult to believe that my time here in DC has already breezed past the halfway point, and it won’t be too much longer until I’m back in Mt. Vernon. We had quite the plague in the office this week; I made it until Thursday before it really hit me and my co-workers very kindly sent me home to rest. Though I’m midway through, I think I’ll save the mid-point reflections for the next post once my supervisors are back and we’ve had a chance to reflect more.


Over the weekend I got to visit my friend at Providence College. Their campus is gorgeous! Above is their on-campus koi pond.

I spent Thursday offline resting so that I could be up and functioning to travel up to Rhode Island on Friday to visit my childhood best friend for the weekend. While I knew the internet access wasn’t going to be particularly optimal, it ended up being a lot slower than intended and I spent most of the day just waiting for my work to load. The trip up there was absolutely gorgeous though (and comfortable, and non-stressful, and I could get up and walk around, and I had the internet, and I could go on…). It was my first time traveling long-distance by train and I wish I could do it much more often.

The majority of my week was spent continuing the projects and research that I’d been working on beforehand. While Zack and Lilly are out in the field, a lot of what I do is to help facilitate that work and continue any research on projects. It varied primarily between power-mapping reporters who are covering the 2016 elections and the candidates (if any) that they’re focusing on, researching campaign staff members for all the candidates (expanding it now to Foreign Policy Directors and any Advisors the candidates may have), and list-building for resources in key election states. There is a seriously impressive amount of information out there for the election. It really helps me appreciate the immense movement that goes on behind the scenes in our political system (for good and for bad). Even studying politics it was difficult just how much happens in political campaigns and the enormous scale of some of them. That’s not even counting the unpaid help that campaigns get as well, and I’m not even looking into the funding that goes into campaigns.

Zack and Lilly will be back next week and I can’t wait! Over the weekend our team had immense success with our bird-dogging work. It’s my job to get them all the information they need about upcoming candidate events in order for them to decide where they should go (and pass that information onto volunteers based on the event). It’s been kinda quiet in the office here without them, and then they’re going to be gone again the following week in preparation for something HUGE (can’t tell just yet, but you can bet that I’ll write about it here once it’s ready).

Yeah, that's my supervisor totally shaking hands with Former President Bill Clinton!

Yeah, that’s my supervisor totally shaking hands with Former President Bill Clinton!

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