Intern Spotlight: Zainab Mahdi

This is the sixth in a series of spotlights on our summer 2018 student interns.  Learning Life’s students this summer are assisting with planning, fundraising, curriculum development, and international family-to-family projects focused on community photography and food culture as part of our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI).  Zainab Mahdi, interviewed below, is, among other things, helping with fundraising, curriculum development, research, and live dialogues with families in El Salvador working on our food culture project.

Zainab MahdiWhere were you born and raised?

I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and my family moved to the United States when I was 8 years old.  I have lived in Northern Virginia ever since, along with my parents and younger brother and sister.

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

I am a rising sophomore at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  Currently, I plan to major in Global Business with a minor in Spanish.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy reading books (especially historical fiction), drawing, and listening to true crime podcasts.  I also love spending time outside biking and hiking at Algonkian Regional Park in northern Virginia, as well as hanging out with my family and exploring Washington D.C. with my friends.

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?

I spent a summer working with a local environmental non-profit that used grassroots campaigning to promote legislative reform.  Being a part of such a dedicated and passionate team was very inspiring for me, and I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn a lot about environmental advocacy by engaging daily with people from all walks of life on the pressing issues of climate change, pollution, and politics.

What are your career plans?

Someday, I hope to have a career in international development.  I would love to have a job that involves a lot of traveling and working directly with communities across the globe to improve living conditions and help solve major world issues like poverty, education, and scarcity.

Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life?

I am very interested in international affairs and studying the effects of intercultural connection and globalization. For me, Learning Life’s goal of fostering global citizenship through international family-to-family dialogue demonstrates that it is an organization committed to making a unique positive change in the world.  Interning with Learning Life is a great opportunity for me to gain hands-on experience and practice my Spanish skills by contributing to the organization’s latest cultural project connecting families in D.C. and El Salvador.

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

A few years ago, I visited Yala National Park in Sri Lanka with my family.  It was an incredibly stunning and beautiful experience that I will never forget.  In just a few days, I saw leopards, bears, crocodiles, monkeys, peacocks, and hundreds of elephants in the wild.  We stayed in an open-air treehouse in the jungle, falling asleep below starry skies and waking up to the brilliant sunrise and sounds of animals gathering at a nearby watering hole.  I have many wonderful memories of Sri Lanka, but this was one of the best experiences of my life and I hope to travel there again in the future.