Week 10: Over and Out

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Sunday, August 8, 2021


Hannah Wistrand

That’s a wrap. Signed, sealed, delivered. End scene. Or is it “and” scene… I’ve never been clear on that. Well, it’s a good thing this wasn’t an acting internship. Goodness, my apologies, as I write this, my heart is still going a million miles an hour off the adrenaline from this morning’s symposium. Seeing everyone figure out how to condense 10 weeks of work into 6 minute presentations was truly inspiring, and I am incredibly proud to have been considered in the same category as so many of my wonderful peers this summer.


This week has been the perfect end to this great experience. After sending out our call to action to our members to engage in their communities around vaccine hesitancy, we met a few times out of nervousness to discuss the lack of feedback we were receiving. While our members had seemed particularly energized after the training sessions, we hadn’t received any responses to our email chains or online community platforms regarding people’s progress. In response to this uncertainty, my mentor and I decided to take it upon ourselves to do exactly what we had been asking our members to do all summer - engage in our communities. So I logged on to Nextdoor, the platform I had so fervently admonished all summer, to see if I could engage in a productive discussion with my neighbors. To my surprise, in 24 hours, I had over 200 comments.


Over the next several days I worked tirelessly to respond to everyone who had and continued to comment. Working into the evenings, I responded to everyone I could, working to understand and cite factual information in an engaging and empathetic manner. Over the course of these last couple of days, I received countless comments thanking me for how I was forming my responses and taking the time to respond to everyone. I had people who disagreed with me in the comments reach out privately to thank me for the civil discussion, and I could see mindsets changing as I was able to address the real concerns of my neighbors in a positive environment. This experience showed me that our efforts all summer really had the potential to make a positive impact. I saw that, by training APS members and other scientists and community members in this method of communication, we might be able to find common ground on political and social issues rattling our nation and world, and move forward together with complete information and empathy.


This was a great end to my time with the APS Public Engagement and Office of External Affairs this summer. I am so thankful for my wonderful mentor, Claudia Fracchiolla, and teammates Callie Pruett and Francis Slakey. Their unwavering support for my work and my ambitions has shown me a world of possibilities for my future and taught me much about the inner workings of public engagement, policy, and communication - skills and insight I will carry with me into every future venture. I am glad I was able to learn so many new things this summer, and encourage you and every SPS intern to do the same. So with that, thank you, and,


Stay curious, everyone

Hannah Wistrand