The UC Irvine Washington DC Academic Internship Program, better known as UCDC, is something you have to experience for yourself. Francois Genard is a student that experienced UCDC and he wholeheartedly advocates the program.
“It was awesome, I would definitely recommend it to every standing UCI student,” Genard said.
UCDC impacted Genard in many ways. It encouraged him not only to take action and raise awareness but gave him “the ability to meet some of the most influential, charismatic people in the world. I would have never imagined myself shaking the hand of former President Clinton or saw myself speaking to him about International Action. I also would have never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Tony Lake or attend several demonstrations for health care reform,” Genard said.
Genard, a fifth-year student at UCI, is an International Studies major with a French minor. He went to DC for ten weeks this summer and participated in three different internship programs: International Action, Campus Progress, and Global Zero.
International Action is a program in which Genard learned to give poorer countries, in this case, Haiti, cleaner water by use of chlorine tablets that would purify the water.
For Campus Progress, Genard attended the National Conference where he was able to speak to Bill Clinton about his internship with International Action.
The third and most significant internship for Genard was Global Zero, in which he attended a three-week leadership summit where he met different ambassadors such as the former National Security Advisor for Bill Clinton, Anthony Lake, with whom he would discuss aspects of a zero nuclear weapons initiative.
“On weekends, we would have leadership meetings on how to use the media and how to promote Global Zero on campus to raise awareness of the threat of nukes. Part of the three week program was to come back to school and create a club for Global Zero,” Genard recalled.
That’s exactly what he did. Along with his co-founder, Nahian Taha, a fifth-year political science major whom Genard met on the Global Zero internship in DC, he formed a Global Zero chapter on the UCI campus. The first meeting is on October 29 in Social Science Tower at six p.m., and the excitement is running high. He has already prepared stickers and T-shirts for the club.
UCI is the first UC to launch Global Zero along with 17 other campuses nationwide including Georgetown and the University of Michigan.
“Global Zero is so important to me because nuclear weapons are, above all, a political game of power and authority throughout each nation in today’s world. This game is a serious threat to mankind and all of the beauty the world has to offer. If one country launches a nuclear weapon then a domino effect will occur –a nuclear world war will begin,” Genard said.
He was already interested in the issue of nuclear weapons before his internship. “I’ve always been intrigued by nuclear weapons and why we, as human beings, must have one in order to feel powerful,” he said. Genard’s leadership summit only strengthened his views to reach out and make a difference regarding the issue.
In addition to the passion that UCDC stirred for Genard, his future goals are still intact and compliment the experience he gained in his internships; he wishes to become a philanthropist and an ambassador.
Genard was born in and lived his youth near Paris, but it was the shift in culture and media that brought about his attention toward international studies.
“Watching news from French to America opened up my mind to the different view each country perceives and shapes the actual ‘news.’ Therefore, it made me curious about the world and how we interact with one another with politics,” he said.
Genard, along with Taha, are seeking to expand their efforts to get students involved with Global Zero. They believe that the issue of nuclear weapons is not widely discussed, except on the global level. “UCI can still make a global effect,” Genard declared.
This UCI student will graduate soon enough, but not without the passion and power that college should bring to students; the passion to pursue what is important to them, and the power to make a difference. “Basically, I want to live full and die empty,” Genard said simply.