Suddenly, my life had a little more purpose to it. That's exactly how I felt when I decided to take on the large, but exciting responsibility of becoming a roadie with Global Zero, an international, non-partisan movement to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.
How many 22-year-olds can truly say that they are saving the world? It's a bold and presumptuous statement, but if you view an all-out nuclear war as the beginning of the end, then my statement might not be so arrogant after all. My name is Scott Ibaraki and I'm currently traveling the country as a Global Zero roadie, promoting the compelling new movie, Countdown to Zero, and building an international movement.
Before the four Global Zero vans hit the road back in April, the Global Zero roadies gathered in Washington, D.C. to learn, train, and bond with each other, so that we could blanket the country as a united front. We went through three weeks of intense training on nuclear issues, messaging, team dynamics, booking, and public speaking. The days (and nights) were long and riddled with a bevy of e-mails, phone calls, and mock Q&A's, but with each passing day, we could feel the entire team getting stronger. Meeting a handful of Global Zero's founders and principals -- Her Majesty Queen Noor, Lawrence Bender and Valerie Plame Wilson -- at the end of training really brought everything together for us. Their words of encouragement and inspiration validated all of our hard work and made us proud to represent Global Zero's mission.
But how did I and the other roadies get to this point? Our paths are quite varied and none too smooth, but in the end it's been absolutely worth it. For Matt Wilcox, an international policy graduate student finishing up his first year on the road, the "tour has been crazy and working from the road has been pretty tough. Tough and entirely worth it." Matt loves the challenges he's encountered, such as finding better ways to answer questions and explain some of these very complex issues. "It's been really neat to constantly engage with people on an issue that I am so passionate about."
Patrick McDermott, a Great Plains roadie, was already familiar with Global Zero and thought it was refreshing to find an organization actually aiming for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and not some half-measure simply trying to stop one aspect of the nuclear threat. When he then heard about this opportunity, he immediately jumped on it. Now that tour is just past the halfway point, Patrick says that it has been one of the best experiences of his life. "I love this film, I love talking to people about the movement, and I even love the nomadic lifestyle that defines much of what a roadie's life is like."
For some of us, like my teammate in South Shore, Jenna Ricci, joining the Global Zero Movement has been a whirlwind -- at times overwhelming and anxiety producing. Having little prior knowledge about nuclear issues, Jenna now feels a deep desire to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide, and that she has grown personally and professionally.
As for me, I put a great sustainability consulting internship on hold while I embarked on this grand adventure. I randomly stumbled upon this amazing opportunity in a job listserv and couldn't be happier that I decided to apply on a whim. Truthfully, I've never worked so hard, yet accomplished so much in such a brief amount of time. The experience and memories I've gained from this brief two-month experience are invaluable and will stay with me forever. Learning more about this issue only motivates me to work harder as I slowly turn into a bona fide "Nuclear Nerd." I genuinely believe that getting to zero is possible, but only if the general public can see past their antiquated, Cold War deterrence mentality and realize that a world devoid of nuclear weapons is truly a safer world.
Perhaps roadies Hiram Villarreal and Tara Banks summarize the roadie experience best. "Despite all the hardships, it's been the most amazing, one-of-a-kind, life changing experience we could've ever imagined. We're renovating a movement that started before most of us were born, but at the same time we feel like we are starting a whole new chapter and this is just the beginning."