Busy as a Bee
July 3, 2017
Just for clarification, yes, that is me in a bee suit, and yes, I’m also working with Global Zero, an organization working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide. Are they related? Not really, beyond the fact it is me doing both. Any and all beekeeping activities (and what delicious treats may ensue) are simply the way my uncle chose to entertain me during my first weekend in D.C.
What I’m really doing
I first became familiar with Global Zero and their organization through Katelynn Raney ’16, when I read her Cornell Fellows blog about her time as an intern, and later through Elissa Karim ’18, both in talking with her about the Global Zero group on campus and then learning about her fellowship last fall. While I am not a politics major, the international advocacy efforts of Global Zero really drew my attention, and as one of my post-Cornell dreams is to help promote international cooperation, Global Zero felt like a good place to “get my feet wet,” so to speak. I had no idea going into this fellowship of what I would be doing, other than that I would be working with the field team – the part of Global Zero that does a lot of outreach into communities for the grassroots advocacy side of their work.
I happened to arrive at a “changing of the guards” time – one of the field campaign leaders is headed to San Francisco to pursue graduate studies, and the other was returning from a trip to Thailand. Because of the timing, I was unable to really launch immediately into a project, but I did get to work updating one of Global Zero’s most-used (and least reviewed) databases: a compilation of professors at the various universities from which Global Zero draws its student recruits for Action Corps (per the Global Zero website: Action Corps is a year-long organizing program designed to train and empower leaders across the country). My task was to go through the list of universities last compiled and updated a couple of years ago, and for each college determine which professors were still employed, if their email and phone numbers were up to date, and add any new hires or professors from other departments. Global Zero uses these lists to send informational emails about Action Corps to the professors as a way of finding interested students. While combing through college and university websites, I also had the opportunity to do a little grad school research – everything really was already right there!
I also had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on nuclear safety with the other two interns at the office. While I knew that nuclear safety was a part and parcel of any type of nuclear manufacturing (whether it is for weapons development or energy production), I had never really thought about all the work that must go into this kind of a task. Everything from making sure the plutonium doesn’t get too close to ensuring that the boxes that handle the crates that will handle the nuclear waste are correctly built are all elements where, if something goes wrong, there can be massive consequences. The members of the panel were discussing the challenges the nuclear sector is facing in terms of funds and staffing, and while I personally didn’t get a main message, it was very interesting to learn about all the moving pieces in terms of nuclear safety (if you want to read a really good article about some of the challenges facing nuclear labs across the U.S., check this article out!).
D.C. Fun and Games
Not all of my time was spent updating mailing lists. On Tuesday, we celebrated our coworker’s time at Global Zero and sent him off to his next journey by playing TopGolf (imagine a giant driving range, only with targets, and trying to get a high score rather than a low score….I would have won if we had been playing regular golf) and enjoying the company of the entire Global Zero group at Dacha Beer Garden. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of all the young professionals surrounding me, and chatting with my coworkers while we enjoyed giant pretzels made me think how, next year this time, I could be one of these people (not just an intern).
My mom came out for the weekend, so I got to “do D.C.” with her, which meant a visit to the Smithsonian Castle, the Newseum (which is probably going to go straight to the top of my top 10 favorite museums), and a walk down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. I know that I’ve only been here a week, but I feel like I’ve already covered so much ground, and I can’t wait to see where this next week takes me!
Hannah Robertson is an English literature major from Durango, Colorado.