Spotlight: Spring 2024 Learning Life Interns

Learning Life’s interns do vital work to grow our organization.  This spring, their work included outreach to thousands of people on Facebook and Linkedin to help grow the Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI) worldwide, and our Democracy Learning Community (DLC) in the Washington DC capital region; assisting with in-person Democracy Dinners and organizing for the DMV Democracy Festival; research to develop our DLC vision and action plan; supporting our international family dialogues; research and outreach to develop Citizen Diplomacy International; and more.  Learning Life is very grateful for their dedicated work.  You can learn a little about each of the interns below.

Ian Bastida

Year, major, and school: I am a graduating senior from UCLA, ready to receive my Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Chicano Studies.
Hobbies: Theatre is one of my greatest passions and something I have enjoyed for many years. In my free time, I love supporting local productions and working on my craft as a playwright. My favorite shows are The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Cabaret, and The Drowsy Chaperone.
Career aspirations: Majoring in English has allowed me to develop my creative voice as a writer and I hope to incorporate that into my career. Over the years, my infatuation with words has only deepened with each book I read and every word I write. I hope to become a cultural critic, where I can share my insights and perspective on the media we consume.
Why Learning Life? Learning Life is a great opportunity for me to enter the professional world and apply the skills I have gained as an undergraduate. This is where I can immerse myself in diplomatic and educational industries while navigating the non-profit sector. Interning at Learning Life allows me to make meaningful connections and help organize important citizen conversations on democracy and diplomacy.
Michelle Chen
Year, major, and school: I am a current sophomore at the University of Southern California, majoring in International Relations-Global Business with a double minor in Legal Studies and Cybersecurity.
Hobbies: I love to dance hip-hop and play pickleball in my free time. I also love trying out new restaurants and cute cafes with my friends. If I had an unlimited budget, I would choose to travel to a new state/country whenever I had the time because I am an adventurer at heart.
Career aspirations: I am currently interested in pursuing a career in law, government, and cybersecurity management. I plan to go to law school after I graduate, and am particularly interested in areas of international law and civil rights law.
Why Learning Life?  I was interested in interning for Learning Life because I was curious and excited by their mission of spreading the concept of family and citizen diplomacy, and the active work they were conducting at the grassroots.  I wanted to gain hands-on experience working in a grassroots organization and feel that I am a part of a bigger movement giving back to the world. Learning Life definitely connected me to a community like that and has helped broaden my network greatly!
Samantha Cruz

Year, Major, and School: I am a senior at Towson University. I am majoring in Law and American Civilization with a minor in Political Science.

Hobbies: During my free time I like to learn new cooking and baking recipes.  I enjoy going to the gym and finding new horror movies to watch.  I also love visiting my family and spending all day with them.
Career aspirations: After I graduate I plan on attending law school and eventually becoming an immigration lawyer.  I would love to help others within my community and I’m looking forward to learning more about how to help people from different places with citizenship and immigration issues.
Why Learning Life?  When I came across the internship listing, I was interested in how education could be tied to diplomacy and democracy. The whole concept of outreach and uniting people from different countries to hear their stories is a great way to bring awareness to what occurs in their country. I also think it’s important to continue to educate many people about democracy.  Schools tend to only teach the surface-level basics of it, but through Learning Life, we can learn in greater depth what democracy is and how it impacts people.

Leslie Figueroa-Borja

Year, major, and school: I’m a third-year History major, doubling minoring in Latin American Studies and Dance. I attend the University of California, Davis.

Hobbies: I’m a dancer, and enjoy dancing all styles of dance. Dance has taught me to be intentional with everything that I do. I also enjoy going on long walks and grabbing an iced coffee!

Career aspirations: After completing my undergraduate education, I aim to pursue a master’s degree in public policy or history. Then, I aim to pursue a career in public service or public policy research focused on addressing issues marginalized displaced communities face.

Why Learning Life?  Learning Life aligns with my desire to storytell. I believe storytelling is an effective strategy to resist systems of oppression. I hope to have the opportunity to tell stories about the struggles marginalized communities face to initiate societal reforms.

Kinsey Martindale

Year, major, and school: I am an undergraduate senior at NYU Shanghai where I am studying political science with minors in Chinese and Journalism.

Hobbies: In my free time, I enjoy writing, photography, wandering the streets of Shanghai, trying new cafes, watching documentaries, discovering new music, and snuggling with my cat Pablo! I’m also a huge travel junkie, and I’ve been very blessed throughout my college career to have studied in three different continents and visit over nine countries!

Career aspirations: As my graduation approaches, I’m currently working towards pursuing a career in the international development space. I have been accepted into the Peace Corps and am set to serve as a primary education teacher in Lesotho for two years starting this September. I then plan to get my master’s degree which will hopefully lead to a position with an international development organization working on projects that contribute to expanding opportunities for people in underprivileged communities. I am also interested in using my journalism experience and international background to pursue freelance work focusing on global development.

Why Learning Life? I’m very grateful to be working with Learning Life this semester.  I have had the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the inner workings of a nonprofit. A lot of my work has focused on helping coordinate our four live international family diplomacy dialogues on the theme of “Understanding and Addressing Threats to Family Security.” It has been enlightening to hear how people from all regions of the world are affected by a variety of issues including war, poverty, climate change, gender-based violence, and the internet. I am looking forward to applying the experience and knowledge that I have obtained through my internship with Learning Life to a future career in international development.

Saige Thibaud

Year, Major, and school: I am a graduate student at the University of Miami about to receive my Master’s of Science in International Business in May 2024.

Hobbies: I like exploring different countries’ cuisines by trying different recipes I find online.  I also like reading fantasy books.  These are my two favorite ways to unwind.

Career Aspirations: My ultimate goal is to work in the field of foreign policy. For now, I plan to take a year to work and study for the LSAT to go to law school in 2025, with my target being Georgetown Law.

Why Learning Life?  Given my career goals align with Learning Life’s focus on diplomacy, taking on this internship was a no-brainer. I was happily surprised by the additional benefits of learning the inner-workings of a nonprofit and being exposed to such a wide range of lived experiences across the world through Learning Life’s international citizen diplomacy programs.

Bianca Timofte

Year, major, and school: I am a freshman in the Dual BA Program between Sciences Po Paris and Columbia University! I will be getting my first degree in economics and sociology and the second in financial economics.
Hobbies: I love to go on walks, runs, hikes, or get out in nature any way I can! Another way I love to spend my free time is baking.  I’ve made everything from croissants, to macarons, to a three layer chocolate cake.  If I’m not outside or baking, you can find me crocheting with some music on!
Career aspirations: In the future I would love to go into a career in financial services. Although I am undecided on a specific position, I hope to be able to apply both my analytical and presentation skills in my future career. Aside from financial services, corporate law is another pathway I’m considering.
Why Learning Life? I was drawn to intern with Learning Life to gain deeper knowledge of how diplomacy can be spread internationally.  It was an incredible experience to meet people from all over the world, from our intern meetings to attending international family diplomacy dialogues. Additionally, I was super excited to assist with Learning Life’s transition to Salesforce to learn more about customer relations management and implement technology to improve Learning Life’s ability to connect with and benefit communities!
Jenna Tooley
Year, major, and school: I am a third-year senior at UCLA graduating in June 2024 with my Bachelor’s in Political Science and a double minor in Public Affairs and Global Studies.
Hobbies: In my free time I enjoy exploring coffee shops and bakeries for the ambiance, listening to podcasts, going to the beach, and traveling to new places!
Career aspirations: Upon graduation, I plan to continue studying for the LSAT in preparation for law school in addition to working in the Washington, DC area doing law and government-related work. While I haven’t solidified the specific type of law I intend to pursue, my interests span international relations, reproductive health, and criminal justice. Due to my array of interests, I am open to other possibilities related to diplomacy, democracy, the legislative process, and the judiciary system to expand my knowledge about the impact of critical decision-making and political initiatives on a global scale.
Why Learning Life?  Learning Life bridges and fosters the interconnectedness of democracy and diplomacy on local and international levels, which immediately piqued my interest. Although I’ve taken some political science courses about international relations, Learning Life offers me the opportunity to delve into international relations from a multi-faceted, intersectional yet personable approach, through the Democracy Learning Community, the Family Diplomacy Initiative, and Citizen Diplomacy International. Being able to connect with individuals across the globe and hearing their stories is both enriching and inspiring, contributing to more inclusive spaces while strengthening education.

New Posters: Visioning CDI and the DLC

Learning Life is pleased to release two new posters that help envision what the DMV Democracy Learning Community, and Citizen Diplomacy International can look like when more fully developed.  “These new posters can help interested individuals and organizations see where Learning Life is headed with these two programs, one local, the other international, both in ambitious pursuit of Learning Life’s mission to widen and deepen participation in democracy and diplomacy” said Learning Life’s founder and director, Paul Lachelier.  Learn more about each program and how you or your organization can get involved at their respective pages, linked above.


Stakeholder Spotlight: Trey Webb

The “Stakeholder Spotlight” is an occasional series of posts highlighting people who are helping to advance Learning Life’s work.  Our latest post in this series features Trey Webb, the CEO of two tech companies in the Washington D.C. area which support Learning Life community events.  For many ways you can support Learning Life, click here

What is your current occupation? 

I am the CEO of Allied Telecom Group and Amplify Managed Services.   

Please tell us more about you. 

When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought a computer for work. Around this time, I developed a deep love for video games and discovered I could program my own games using his computer. Unfortunately, I had limited resources and didn’t really know anyone else with experience in this area. Fast forward a few years to my freshman year of high school in Germany (my father was in the US military), I convinced my teachers to allow me into a BASIC programming class despite the fact that I didn’t have the math prerequisites. It was an amazing class because it was self-paced, which was good for me because I tend to learn things very quickly and often get bored if not sufficiently challenged. It was a year-long class, but I was able to finish it in a quarter. Fortunately, the teacher offered to teach me another language, and I got to learn Pascal. We then moved back to the US halfway through my sophomore year, and I took every computer class I could at my high school and subsequently transferred to another high school in the next town because it had a computer class I couldn’t get anywhere else.
Upon completing high school, I applied and got into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but my grades were so poor I was asked to leave after the first semester. When I got back home, my mother refused to let me stay home during the workday, so I found work, which led to a company that built and configured computers, I bounced around from there spending most of my time at Bell Atlantic which became Verizon and then ultimately to Allied Telecom. Twelve years later, after working with and learning from a lot of smart people, I was given the chance to lead the company. The bottom line is my early love for video games led to a lifelong passion for technology, especially computer science, that still drives me today.

Please tell us more about Allied Telecom and Amplify. 

Allied is a full-service internet and data services provider. Our expertise is in delivering Internet connectivity, data services, and cloud connectivity solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies. Amplify provides managed IT solutions, including cybersecurity, technical support, and managed networking. One of the things that I’ve always loved about Allied, and try to instill in Amplify, is a passion for excellent client service. We genuinely want to help our clients with the technical side of things so they can focus on their mission. As we say at Amplify, we want to help them “stop worrying about technology, and get back to business.”      

Why did you decide to support Learning Life? 

I’m always looking for opportunities to help others, and when I met Learning Life’s founder, Paul Lachelier, at a condo association party, I was immediately drawn to Paul’s passion for democracy. I have seen a lot of families and friendships strained over politics, and think we can do better. Learning Life is doing better for democracy by encouraging civil discourse. As I’ve heard and like to say, “criticize ideas, not people.” So I felt like this was the kind of initiative I could genuinely support.       

New Poster: 6 Reasons to Tithe

Learning Life has a new poster on tithing to remind individuals and families of the need to invest seriously in the nonprofit sector to help make a better world.  We will share this poster periodically via social media.

Thanks to Learning Life intern Bianca Timofte for her help in designing this poster!