Retired, but still volunteering! CERN Alumna Sue Foffano gives her impressions of volunteering at the CERN Open Days 2019


Sue, first on the right with a lovely bunch of Belgian visitors who came to CERN both days!

As a recent retiree (1st August 2019), and as I have always volunteered for Open Day events since the beginning of my 37 year career at CERN,  it was totally natural for me to volunteer again in 2019. I had the good fortune to have worked in each sector of the organisation when at CERN thanks to my computing background. I started in the Accelerator Sector working for LEP installation, then I spent some time in the Administration working for the Administrative Information Project (aka AIS applications) and HR, then I ended my career working in the Research Sector as Resources Manager for the WLCG Project in the IT Department. I was therefore happy to be assigned as volunteer to work at the CERN Data Centre for both days. 


I am always amazed at the lengths visitors go to to attend the Open Days, battling against the elements (this year the hot sun but in the past sometimes very wet days) and travelling from all over Europe and further to get a closer glimpse of what we really do behind closed doors. I met a young couple in 2013 from Australia  – they had fixed their wedding date as a function of the CERN Open Days so they could begin their honeymoon at CERN, before travelling within Europe. This time I met many visitors from Denmark, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Romania and of course many locals. One local lady told me that she often attends CERN public events and although she has never worked at CERN, she feels at home at CERN due to the friendly and welcoming mentality, and feels greatly inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of the CERN people.


I worked as Information agent for both days at the Data Center, advising people what to do, where to go, answering their questions and generally exchanging with them. Some were surprised that a retiree was motivated to return and asked if I got paid :-) Of course I told them no, and that for me it was totally natural as CERN was such a fantastic place to work I was happy to have the opportunity to return and contribute. It was great to work again with my ex-colleagues and as I left so recently my knowledge is still reasonably up to date so I could really actively participate. For me the challenge will be for the next such event – how to keep up to date now that I’m off all the mailing lists. Thankfully we have the weekly Alumni Digest which is a great help but computing at CERN will look very different in 5-6 years time and I am working on how to stay well informed to be able to continue to contribute (ideas welcome!). 


Thank you to CERN for welcoming the Alumni as volunteers, and to Rachel for her energetic support with the administrative formalities. 

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