So I started my internship in Washington DC exactly two months ago, and figured this would be a good time to look back, reflect on what has happened so far and think about my next steps in the coming two months as my internship comes to an end.
For one of the projects that I’m currently working on, I’m researching case studies exemplifying tipping points that led to transformative change. Interestingly, while I specialise in environmental policy, the two cases I have analysed – the achievement of marriage equality in the US and the success of Bolsa Familia, a conditional cash transfer programme in Brazil – have nothing to do with the environment. So initially, when starting this project, I was a little confused why I was focusing on these two examples while working for a global environmental think tank (and hoping to learn more about environmental governance issues when initially applying.) To my surprise however, I’ve discovered that there’s so much to learn from various social movements outside of the environmental policy realm, and that the lessons learned from these seemingly unrelated social policy areas can help us to better understand why international efforts to curb climate change and protect the global commons have only been able to achieve incremental change thus far. I don’t want to bore you too much on the analysis here, but one thing’s for sure and that’s that the work has definitely sparked an interest for a potential thesis topic.
So that’s a little reflection on the content of my work, but now more on the working life and life in DC overall. As some of you know, deadlines are not my strong suit ..(I hear my IEPC group LOL-ing for sure) ..but I said to myself that when starting this internship this would have to change because I have to behave like a professional. What have I learned? That actually in the working world everyone is so busy juggling multiple projects that deadlines get pushed all the time. This is all to my benefit of course, because it actually looks like I’m on top of my work 😀 …it also helps that my supervisor is very understanding. It’s a match made in heaven. Obviously I don’t think it’s like this everywhere, but it definitely has made it easier for me to adjust to the working life. Now, as for living in DC, it’s a great city! I definitely recommend visiting if you haven’t already. So much to see, do and eat 🙂 I must say though, I really dislike the constant noise of sirens. I live along Massachusetts avenue and regardless of what time of day it is, it’s always so busy and there are always police cars, ambulances and fire trucks driving by. It definitely makes me miss the quite streets of Wageningen..and I consider myself a big city-kid. So that says a lot. Also, the supermarkets sell some craaaazy stuff..I often just walk along the frozen food section to see what kind of crazy weird things they’ve invented. You can for example buy frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The combination is great, I often eat it myself, but I never thought that the process of making a sandwich consumed that much of my time that I’d buy a frozen pre-made version. But maybe that’s just me. Buying hotdogs on a stick wrapped in a blueberry pancake is also a thing.
So what’s happening next? In the coming two weeks I get to attend my first two conferences outside of the office and I’m super excited! One relates to the tipping points project and the other is on the economic benefits of securing indigenous land rights in the Amazon. In the next two months I’m hoping I can attend more workshops and conferences, and while finishing my work on my projects, I’m also hoping to decide on my thesis topic and will try to meet as many of these crazy cool international environment experts running around the office. This whole networking thing isn’t really my thing and makes me feel pretty uncomfortable most of the time. But I guess it’s not everyday that I get to hang out here and have access to so much knowledge..so might as well make the most of it.
So that’s it for now, I’ll probably be back with another post after the conferences – but if you have any questions/comments feel free to shoot me an email 🙂