This is the second in a series of spotlights on our spring 2017 student interns. Learning Life’s students this spring are translating documents, conducting research, fundraising, and doing outreach locally and internationally for our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI), and other work. Amit Gerstein, interviewed below, is helping with CDI fundraising and outreach to potential partners in the Middle East, among other activities.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland, about 40 minutes away from Washington, D.C.
What school do you attend, and what is your year and major there?
I am a freshman at the George Washington University studying International Affairs with an intended concentration in Global Public Health. I am planning on also minoring in Psychology, or Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I read and binge-watch shows on Netflix. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is my all time favorite book (see my favorite show below) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close my favorite movie. I love exploring D.C. and trying new foods. If you haven’t tried a sushi burrito, they are an absolute must.
Is there a life experience you have had that has particularly shaped you as a person thus far? If so, what is it, and how has it shaped you?
After high school and before attending college, I took a gap year, and I went to Israel where I spent the year working, learning, and volunteering. It was an amazing experience living in Israel and witnessing the interaction of different religions, cultures, and people. In fact, for part of the year I lived in Jerusalem, right next to the tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper and only a few minutes away from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Arab market, Temple Mount, and Western Wall! Being in one of the world’s religious and cultural epicenters was an incredible experience, and being able to spend my year learning and volunteering made it all the more meaningful. Over my year, I met and spoke with people from diverse backgrounds – Jews and Arabs, Christians and Druze, Palestinians and settlers, secular and Hasidic – and that opened my eyes to the complex and fascinating dynamics within Israel and the Middle East.
What are your career plans?
I’ll let you know as soon as I know!
Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life?
I wanted to be able to work with an organization that truly makes an impact on its community. I have done internships in the past where I was working on larger projects without seeing the results of my work and with no interaction with the people who I was helping. The results of my work with Learning Life, on the other hand, are tangible, and I know and can even meet the people who I am helping, which makes it so much more rewarding.
What is the most beautiful place you have seen on Earth, and why is it so beautiful?
The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was the theatrical production of Mark Haddon’s book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The way that the story and the emotions of the characters were visually conveyed through the stage-work and lighting was incredibly powerful. The show is told from the perspective of Christopher, an autistic boy, and the way the story is told, the audience can experience the world as he does, feel the emotions that he does, and see the world through his eyes.