Spotlight: Summer 2023 Learning Life Interns

Learning Life’s interns do vital work responsible for the energy and growth of our organization.  This summer, 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; interviewing applicants worldwide for this year’s FDI training in July-October; research and writing to develop our DLC vision and action plan; research and outreach to develop our new program, Citizen Diplomacy International; and more.  Learning Life is very grateful for their dedicated work.  You can learn a little about each of them below.
Summer Anwer

Year, major, and school: I’m a junior majoring in international relations with a concentration in justice, ethics, and human rights at American University in Washington DC.
Hobbies: I love to crochet, paint, and read!  Right now I really like murder mysteries, but I read widely.  I also love spending time with friends and family.
Career aspirations: After graduating from American University with my bachelor’s degree, I want to go to law school, and eventually become an international human rights lawyer!
Why Learning Life?  Learning Life’s core mission and vision perfectly aligns with my passions and interests!  The non-profit shares my values of family and education as well as my academic and professional interest in diplomacy. It was incredibly formative to work with the Family Diplomacy Initiative to bring families’ voices into international policy-making as well as relevant to my academic studies!


April Coppedge-Calderon 
Year, major, and school: I graduated in May from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Hobbies: I love to go running.  I just did a half marathon about a month ago.  I watch TV, particularly sitcoms, like New Girl, and Super Store.
Career aspirations: I would love to work in politics or to become a lawyer!  I’m not sure as yet what areas of politics and the law.
Why Learning Life?  I wanted to intern with Learning Life to gain better knowledge about what it’s like to work with a nonprofit. I also wanted to do work in international relations, so helping with the Family Diplomacy Initiative was insightful as it allowed me to learn foreign people’s different perspectives from their own mouths, not a textbook.


Ma’Shayla Hearns
Year, major, and school: I am a rising senior at Virginia Tech double majoring in sociology and criminology with a minor in peace studies and social justice.
Hobbies: I love arts and crafts whether that be drawing, painting, or crocheting. I also enjoy taking long peaceful walks especially on the many trails around the Blacksburg area in Virginia.
Career Aspirations: After completing my undergraduate studies, I would like to have a career working for one of the agencies of the federal government, ideally the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or as a federal advocate for marginalized groups.
Why Learning Life? I joined Learning Life because I like how it targets the family as the place where democracy and diplomacy can be formed.  The Family Diplomacy Initiative allows for individuals within their families to be empowered to stand up for what they believe in and gain the tools they need to do so. I also enjoy the connections and collaborations that are made in an effort to spread democracy worldwide.


Diya Jaisankar

Year, major, and school: I am a rising sophomore majoring in International Affairs and minoring in Business Administration at American University.
Hobbies: My hobbies include playing tennis, playing the piano, and reading. I have been playing piano since I was five years old, and I was on the tennis team all throughout my high school years. I have always been an avid reader because I love being able to expand my perspective and fully immerse myself into someone else’s story.
Career aspirations: I have always been passionate about advocating for marginalized communities and I believe that this stemmed from witnessing the hardships my parents had to go through when immigrating to the United States. My goal is to give back to my community through government and public service. I want to go to law school and either delve into international law or immigration law.
Why Learning Life?  I chose learning life because I believe that learning about each other’s stories from all across the world has become more important than ever. People tend to only focus on their own lives or the lives of their loved ones, but Learning Life gives individuals the ability to look past their bubble and see all of the different lives that people have experienced around the world. Being able to speak to family diplomats from different countries has really opened my eyes to the joys and hardships that people have been through.

Eunjin Park

Year, major, and school: I am a Master’s student majoring in political science at American University in Washington, DC.

Hobbies: I enjoy digital drawing. I love to draw cartoons that tell stories from my travels and academic journeys.  The most recent digital story I did was a promotional video about a Christian camp I helped organize this summer.  This fall, I’m planning to create a video introducing All of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a student club I founded at American University.  The video would introduce viewers to the issue of North-South Korea relations, democracy, human rights and peace by speaking with club students as well as North Korea experts and defectors.

Career aspirations: My vision is to contribute to the process of unification between North and South Korea, since there has been a truce, not real peace, between the Koreas over the last seventy years, since the Korean War.  I aspire to aid North Korean defectors, to dismantle the emotional barriers between the hearts of North and South Korea, and more broadly, to help refugees from conflicts and unstable or authoritarian regimes.

Why Learning Life?  Learning Life presents incredible ideas through citizen diplomacy and family diplomacy. By engaging with Learning Life, I’ve discovered the profound power of familial interconnectedness.  Researching, planning, and listening to the voices of families around the world has been a true pleasure for me.


Harrison Reinisch

Year, major, and school: I’m a rising sophomore at George Washington University. At the moment, I plan to double major in international affairs and Spanish.

Hobbies: I like to read, especially about psychology. I enjoy learning about human nature and the trends that shape the modern world.
Career aspirations: I hope to use my foreign language skills in my career. I’m especially interested in using foreign languages for international development.
Why Learning Life? I resonated with LL’s mission of “spreading learning in everyday life beyond school walls.” I also appreciated their goal to connect people across continents. Meeting people in different environments, often through the internet, has given me many valuable life experiences.


Kailee Sullivan

Year, major, and school: I am a rising junior at The University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill majoring in Global Studies and Latin American Studies along with a minor in Social & Economic Justice.
Hobbies: I grew up playing competitive volleyball, both indoor and sand, which I still enjoy playing and watching when I can today. I love attending hip-hop concerts and festivals whenever I can. I also enjoy traveling, improving my Spanish, thrift store shopping, watching movies, and spending time with my two dogs at home.
Career aspirations: As most college students probably say, I am not completely sure what my future career will be. For the past few years, I have thought about getting an international affairs master’s degree and working in diplomacy. Recently, I have become more interested in attending law school after my undergraduate studies and pursing immigration law. I want to be able to consistently practice and improve my Spanish and work directly with people who I can help. Wherever my career takes me, I hope that I can use my education and privilege to create a more equitable society.

Why Learning Life? This summer I wanted the chance to work in the non-profit sector to see if it is a career that suited me. I learned a lot about the effort, collaboration, and sacrifices that everyone must put in to make these organizations work. I am very grateful for the experience I had to work with dedicated students from around the world who have similar interests and values. It was also so rewarding to talk with and hear the perspectives of families and individuals around the world.


Junlong Wang
Year, major, and school: I am a junior at the University of Southern California, majoring in international relations and minoring in management consulting.
Hobbies: In my spare time, I enjoys cooking Chinese hot pot meals and baking desserts, like Taro Bread, with friends. I also like hiking on mountain trails, and reading, especially detective novels.
Career aspirations: I was born and raised in China, and moved to the United States to study at the age of 16.  My experiences living in both countries has fostered a deep sense of community and belonging.  I’m passionate about bridging misunderstandings between people from different nations, particularly between China and the United States.  Consequently, I aspire to a career in public diplomacy to nurture interpersonal connections or to work at the United Nations, addressing conflicts at the governmental level. Alternatively, I would love to start my own nonprofit organization to advance the cause of citizen diplomacy, including student diplomacy.
Why Learning Life?  The concept of Learning Life – utilizing family as a medium to connect everyday people around the globe – is an innovative and compelling approach. This idea deeply resonated with me. Furthermore, I am eager to gain a deeper understanding of the work style within nonprofit organizations.

New Video about Learning Life Released

Learning Life is pleased to announce the release of a new video about our organization. 

In the video, Learning Life’s founder, Paul Lachelier, lays out the challenges Learning Life tackles:

“Across the world, most people live in communities segregated by class, race, religion and other social divides.  That segregation breeds distrust, inequality and polarization. 

“At the same time, many people across the world feel powerless in the face of so many big, deadly problems, from crime and terrorism, to war, disease and climate change. 

“In the midst of such problems, a lot of people spend a lot of time on screens to find entertainment and escape, drawing an ever sharper distinction between absorbing digital distractions and often frustrating yet inescapable realities.  And that digital distraction is fueling social disconnection, loneliness and depression, among other problems.   

“In our increasingly diverse, interdependent world, we need places to connect meaningfully, online and in-person, across lines of difference, to learn about each other and to work together toward shared goals.  We need communities where people of all ages feel connected, learn, have fun, and find power and purpose in together addressing our world’s myriad challenges.”

Lachelier then introduces Learning Life’s mission, what distinguishes us from other educational nonprofits, four elements of our approach, and our now three programs.  This year, alongside our Family Diplomacy Initiative, and Democracy Learning Community, Learning Life added a third program — Citizen Diplomacy International — which called for an update to Learning Life’s introductory video.  The new video also includes a wider and more current range of photos and videos.  Please watch the new video on Youtube, like it, and share it: 

Thanks to Learning Life intern and George Mason University Film & Video Studies new graduate Aqwia Harris for working closely with Paul Lachelier to produce this new video.  Congratulations, Aqwia on the video and your graduation! 

Help the Daughters of a Deceased Learning Life Participant

On June 1 this year, Learning Life participant and single father, Adrian Winslow, died of a heroine overdose in Washington DC, leaving behind his mother, Susan (Adrian was her only child), his wife, now widow, Alvina, daughters Kaliah and Samya Curtis, an older son Kallil, and Kallil’s own son, Adrian.   
For about 7 years, from 2016 to 2022, through Learning Life, I worked directly then indirectly with Adrian and his two daughters as we ran a small International Mentoring Program (ended in 2022) and our growing Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI) to help lower-income families in Washington DC’s economically poorest wards — Wards 7 and 8, east of the Anacostia River — learn about the wider world through foreign festivals, potlucks, restaurants, readings, and other activities in DC, plus live dialogues online with families abroad in El Salvador, Senegal and Jordan.  
Starting in 2020, the same year the Covid pandemic began, I gradually lost touch with Adrian, Alvina, Samya and Kaliah as Learning Life shifted its focus more toward scaling up our Family Diplomacy Initiative online internationally, and phasing out our harder-to-scale mentoring program.  
Then, on June 3, as I was preparing for a Learning Life event in DC, I got a call from Alvina.  Through tears so strong I could barely understand her, Alvina informed me that Adrian had died, in her presence, after she pleaded with him not to take the heroine.  
Adrian was a good person.  He joked and laughed a lot, bringing humor to his family’s chronically grim surroundings in SE DC.  At a young age, before he took addictive drugs, Adrian proved a talented dancer, which helped give him the opportunity to tour internationally with a DC dance group in Paris, Moscow and Accra.  Years later, in 2016, that international experience stimulated his interest in our programming, and giving his own daughters an international experience.
We (Learning Life volunteers) did our best to provide enriching educational experiences for Adrian and his daughters, and Adrian participated often with his daughters.  But we could not alone change the difficult circumstances in which Adrian and his family lived, including the ready availability of drug dealers eager to profit from and prey on others’ past or present addictions, nor the more serious, widespread and systemic problem of residential segregation, wherein some people are lucky enough to be born into neighborhoods with concentrated advantages (from households with higher education, income and wealth, lower crime rates and more volunteerism, to better equipped schools and libraries, to more supermarkets, parks and mature trees that produce oxygen and cool temperatures), while others are unlucky enough to be born into the opposite: concentrated disadvantage. 
Learning Life can’t alone change that root problem of residential segregation.  That typically “takes a village,” including the public will, and concerted, coalition effort over years.  However, Learning Life can alone connect those born unlucky to opportunities, and that’s one of the things we do through our growing learning communities.   
On Friday, June 23, I attended Adrian’s funeral.  There I met Adrian’s mom, Susan, his son Kallil, and his wife and son, and reconnected with Alvina, Samya and Kaliah.  As we reconnected, I asked Kaliah and Samya what they could use help with.  Kaliah told me, with poise, in her characteristically soft voice, that she would like to run track, but her school doesn’t offer track.  Samya reported she’s working to get her real estate license, so the thought of having a mentor in that field excited her.  And so, I’m asking you, as someone connected to Learning Life, and if you know people in or near Washington DC, whether you can recommend individuals who might be able to help Kaliah find a running group, and Samya a real estate agent willing to mentor her.  It is not necessary, but would be great if these individuals you know live in Virginia, Maryland or DC close to Ward 8, in southeast DC, where Kaliah and Samya live with their grandmother. 
You can reach me at with any contacts.  Thank you in advance for your help.    
Founder & Director
Learning Life 
P.S. Attached below are, in order in which they appear, photos of: (1) a live international FDI family dialogue we ran in 2016 including Adrian, Samya, Kaliah, another DC family, and a family online in Senegal, (2) Adrian and his daughters Samya and Kaliah around 2017, and (3) Samya and Kaliah in 2023.   

Learning Life Establishes an Advisory Council

Learning Life is pleased to announce the formation of an Advisory Council to help guide our work.

The Council proceeds the inauguration of Learning Life’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors (BOA) in January and February 2021, respectively, and our establishment as an independent nonprofit in July 2021. The Advisory Council expands the number of advisors informing Learning Life’s work in education, democracy and diplomacy, but contrasts with the BOA in that the latter holds meetings quarterly, while the former has no regular meetings. This gives our advisor candidates the choice to work regularly with us, or on an ad hoc basis, or to switch from one to the other from one year to another.

“Learning Life has benefited considerably from our advisors. For example, conversations with our advisors improved the fairness and focus of our Family Diplomacy Initiative training, and spurred the development of our media outreach efforts,” explained Learning Life’s Founder & Director, Paul Lachelier.

Click here and scroll to the bottom to learn more about our inaugural Advisory Council members: Golnar Abedin, Joe Brinker, Stefan Cibian, Matt Clausen, Maia Comeau, Patrick McDermott, Sherry Lee Mueller, Andreas Sami Prauhart, Bill Schneider and John Schorr.

Interested in serving on one of our boards, or the Council?  Click here to learn more about our boards, and here to learn about the Council.