Update from Master’s International Student Karen Corey

Karen Corey ’13 is in CEP’s Master’s International program with the Peace Corps, about to start her Peace Corps assignment in Samoa.


Today is the first day of my last week interning at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC.  For those who don’t know, RFF is an environmental economics think tank that currently is focusing primarily on energy and climate, transportation and urban land use issues, risk, and health policy.

I’ve spent my summer working on a new project called the Fresh Water Initiative.  One of the interesting things about RFF’s summer internship program is that they sometimes use it as a way to explore new areas of research – so my research has been basically self-directed.  I’ve mainly been examining water regulation throughout the United States through the lens of climate change adaptation, as well as starting to look intensely at the hot new topic in water and energy regulation – the “water-energy nexus”.  This refers to the fact that water requires energy for transport, distribution, and treatment, especially in the western US.  For example, up to 10% of the energy produced in California is used for some aspect of providing water to agricultural, industrial, and urban users.  In addition, tremendous amounts of water are needed to produce energy.  Hydroelectric dams need water as the prime motive force; nuclear and thermoelectric plants need water for cooling; and even solar photovoltaics and wind turbines need a little water for cleaning.  Hopefully, before I leave this week, one of the program fellows and I will have time to put together a little research proposal for a paper we are in the midst of writing.

One of the fun things about interning in DC is being able to go out and attend events around the city.  The Director of Public Affairs sends out a weekly email listing climate and energy-related events in the area, including webinars.  I went to a hearing on Capitol Hill about international climate finance (which unfortunately never got around to discussing climate finance.  First, the poor panel members were treated to an attack on the very existence of climate change as a phenomenon and then the discussion devolved into a discussion of budgetary spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), the release of the 2010 Report on the State of the Voluntary Carbon Market, and a presentation at the US Forest Service about the payments for ecosystem services, among lots of other cool events.  I even went to the International Food Policy Research Institute (where Prapti is interning) to see an event about women and sustainable development (although really that was just an excuse to have lunch with Prapti).

Right now though, my focus is starting to shift towards getting ready for my Peace Corps service in Samoa.  I leave October 5th (at least, that’s the latest information) and I’ll be teaching English in secondary schools as my primary project, with secondary projects in environmentally-related projects.  I’ve started reading all of the blogs of current PCVs in Samoa, begun a packing list (LOTS of books), and commenced thinking about what I want to achieve while I’m in Samoa (kill an octopus with my teeth, go on a trip to New Zealand, learn fluent Samoan, and become a master in Samoan tribal dance – which may be a stretch since, despite my musical talent, I have absolutely no coordination between what my hands are doing and what my feet are doing when it comes to dancing).

Dave and I attempted to go to a service of the Samoan Congregational Church down here a few weeks ago.  It was highly unsuccessful for the following reasons: 1) We got lost three times. Google is NOT very reliable sometimes; 2) We didn’t realize that the church was actually on the army base, so we missed the entrance; and 3) once we finally realized where we were going, the nice military guard politely informed us that we were not allowed to come on the base since we were not properly attired for motorcycle riding and we were riding a motorcycle.  At that point, we just gave up.

All in all, it’s been a good summer here in DC, full of insanely hot weather, strange thunderstorms, and lots of time researching things on my computer.  I’m just about ready to move on to my next adventure in Samoa though.  Dave and I are going to be keeping our own blog about our adventures in Samoa – check it out at http://kaveinsamoa.wordpress.com/.

About BARD CEP