Intern Spotlight: José Castellón Gutiérrez

Learning Life’s student interns this summer 2019 are, among other things, assisting with research and outreach for our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI), and with cook-eat-learn sessions with our families in Washington DC.  José Castellón Gutiérrez, interviewed below, has been helping with this work and more.  

What school do you attend, and what is your year and major there?

I attend The Catholic University of America. I am currently a senior history major focusing on Islamic history and interdisciplinary studies of French and Latin culture.

What do you like to do in your free time?

José Castellón GutiérrezI really enjoy playing video games, especially League of Legends, which has over 27 million people worldwide playing it on any given day.  I’m also a big fan of stand-up (Hannibal Buress, Trevor Noah, Tom Segura), sketch (Saturday Night Live), and satirical political comedy (The Daily Show) — so I spend much of my time watching it.  Additionally, I enjoy rewatching Dragon Ball Z.  It is a very popular show throughout Latin America, including El Salvador, where I come from.  However, my life is not all spent watching screens.  I also like playing soccer with my two brothers.

Is there a life experience you have had that has particularly shaped you thus far?  If so, what is it, and how has it shaped you?

There have been many.  However, the most influential would have to be moving to the United States when I was nine years old from El Salvador, where I was born.  Moving to the United States opened my eyes to a whole new world–to the whole world, in fact. One of the more difficult things about moving to the United States was having to learn the English language. While it was a difficult task to accomplish, it was the key to understanding one of the dominant world cultures.  It taught me that language is an extremely useful tool for learning about a group you are not a part of.  Today, I study French to learn more about the French-speaking world and also Spanish to polish my understanding of my native language.  While we need not learn languages to respect a different culture, it helps us understand those who are a part of it better, both literally and figuratively.

What are your career plans?

While I am currently unsure of what life will bring, I would like to go to law school or graduate school for history.  If I go to graduate school in history, I would like to either teach high school history or pursue research at a university.  If law school is the direction I take, then I would like to practice international or immigration law.

Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life?

One of the core purposes of Learning Life is facilitating connections across the world. I think that this job is very important and I El Jocotal Lagoonwanted to be a part of it.  One of the best ways to learn about other people is to speak to them directly and there is a lack of international connections among ordinary people.  Learning Life’s goal to be a driving force in making those connections was what attracted me the most.

What is the most beautiful place you have seen on Earth, and why is it so beautiful?

The El Jocotal Lagoon back in my hometown is the most beautiful place I’ve seen on Earth. It is so beautiful because it is home. While I have spent most of my life in the United States, I have very fond memories of this place and its crystal clear water. This is the place where my older brother and I would swim on a hot day. I cannot remember a happier and more carefree time in my life.