Alana Baum

OtherWords with the Institute for Policy Studies
Peace and Conflict Studies and History

"I want to start off by thanking the Matsui Center for making my UCDC experience possible.  The semester I spent in Washington, D.C. was unforgettable; I went to President Obama’s second inauguration, was privileged to hear two Supreme Court justices speak, had a challenging and rewarding internship, and completed research that has opened up a new chapter of my academic endeavors. D.C. is a city with an incredible amount of momentum. Due to the constant whirring motion of this city and its inhabitants, D.C. has an energy that inspires socio-political exploration, conversation, and action. I was privy to all of these influences during my time in the nation’s capital.  

"While in Washington, I worked as an editorial intern at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank. During staff meetings, the scholars at my organization would engage in curious, open-minded discourse about political problems while seeking to imagine their solutions. These conversations were reminiscent of discussions I have had in Berkeley classrooms. The democratic manner in which intellectual dialogue manifested at the Institute for Policy Studies was deeply inspiring. And the conversations didn’t stop after work. Fellow Berkeley students on the UCDC program, my roommates and I engaged in living room talk (and often debate) about every political cause under the sun. There were days where one roommate, interning in Nancy Pelosi’s office, would come home from a briefing itching to share the knowledge she had gleaned.  Roommate Number Two would share the Department of Education’s stance on said subject, and I would provide the liberal think tank perspective.  

"The currents running through this city affect not only the content of conversations, but their form as well. At the Institute for Policy Studies, I worked as an editorial intern for our op-ed distribution service.  I learned how to fact-check, copy-edit, and work with fellow editors to make our op-eds sharper, stronger, and more effective. My boss even gave me the opportunity to write three articles of my own, an accomplishment I would have achieved with far less confidence had I not been immersed in the world of IPS. Also through my internship, I had opportunities to engage with various other causes that the Institute champions.  For example, I donned a full-body walrus suit and participated in an early-morning protest outside of a hotel in which corporate execs were meeting to advocate for the Robin Hood Tax and educate passersby about its financial and environmental potentials. These opportunities, and more, are what make Washington such an exciting place to work and study.  I enjoyed my experience so much that I have returned to Washington for the summer.  I’ve already started work at Wallace Global Fund, a progressive foundation that funds human rights non-profits, and look forward to a summer full of late-night monument bike rides, rallies outside the Supreme Court, and picnics on the Mall. I wouldn’t be here now if not for my time at UCDC, and I am very grateful to the Matsui Center for prioritizing the importance of opportunities such as this one."