Spotlight: Fall 2021 Learning Life Interns
Learning Life’s interns do vital work responsible for the vibrance and growth of our programs. This fall, their work included outreach to thousands of people worldwide on Facebook and Linkedin to help grow our Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI) membership, screening of young Family Diplomacy Ambassador applicants, research on citizen diplomacy, fundraising research and outreach, building the invitation list for our Democracy Dinners, developing our website and video communications, and more. Learning Life is very grateful for their dedicated work. You can learn a little about each of them below.
GUSTAVO CARVAJAL VILLALOBOS
Year, major, and school: I am a second-year student (Class of 2021) in the Master’s of Public Policy Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Hobbies: I like hiking, listening to music, jogging, dancing, video games and having nice conversations with friends and family. Coming from Costa Rica, I deeply enjoy spending time in nature, sharing a nice warm cup of coffee with my family, and going out with my friends.
Career aspirations: I’m divided between my passion for supporting and shaping youth through local and national institutions, and my passion for improving vulnerable communities’ resilience as they face climate change. Clean water, food production and overall human health have been compromised and become commodities instead of human rights. In the bigger picture, I’m all in for future generations.
Why Learning Life? To share knowledge and ideas, expand my understanding of other cultures and be part of a worldwide network. In my experience, families have been the driving force behind most individuals I have met around the world, either because of the support they provide or abuse they inflict. Addressing social issues from a family perspective seems like a great opportunity, and it has been an enlightening, useful experience.
Year, major, and school: I’m a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Communications Arts and Computer Science. If all goes to plan, I’ll be graduating in 2025.
Hobbies: My favorite thing to do in my free time is definitely drawing. At other times, though, I like to embroider, watch cartoons, and play video games! I also enjoy spending time with my friends by getting food, hanging out at the library, or going to after-school clubs with them.
Career aspirations: Since I’m majoring in two very different fields, I can see myself pursuing different careers. I would definitely like to pursue something in the arts, possibly making comics, designing characters and environments for animation studios, or creating illustrations for books and magazines. But with the combination of my computer science degree, it would also be interesting to design websites or create video games.
Why Learning Life? I first heard of Learning Life when I got an email from my art advisor about an internship with the nonprofit. I initially joined to simply help create a video for the Family Diplomacy Initiative, but I’ve actually gotten a lot more out of my experience here than I thought I would. Learning about this nonprofit and hearing from people around the world has been very eye-opening. Although I have the opportunity to talk to people around the world by being on any social media platform, Learning Life has provided a specific place for people to discuss really important matters that I’m not usually exposed to within my small online circle. Interning with Learning Life has made me a more educated and open-minded person, so I’m very grateful for this experience.
Year, major, and school: I am a senior undergraduate student at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. My major is Political Science, and I minor in Business Administration and International Studies.
Hobbies: I have always been an animal lover. I have been an enthusiastic equestrian since my elementary school years. This is more than a hobby for me because I have been a licensed athlete in the Turkish Equestrian Federation since 2013. Additionally, I enjoy photography, pottery, gardening and modern dance.
Career aspirations: After completing my bachelor’s degree, I am planning to pursue my master’s degree in business or international relations. Then, I hope to get work experience that provides me with a broad set of skills in teamwork, operations, marketing and sales that can help me run a business enterprise, and develop as a professional and person.
Why Learning Life? I believe in high-quality education because education makes a nation either free and prosperous, or miserable and undeveloped. Learning Life’s mission is to spread learning not only for privileged people but also people from lower-income areas, where they have less access to education. It was very impressive for me to be a part of a nonprofit organization that focuses on education and democracy. From my perspective, the only way to practice a good democracy and develop a country is to educate its citizens. Learning Life’s work is in line with my philosophy.
Year, major, school: I am a sophomore studying at George Washington University in Washington, DC. I am a double major in Political Science and International Affairs, concentrating in Conflict Resolution and International Environmental Policy.
Hobbies: I love to read, listen to music (especially Taylor Swift) and podcasts, go to the gym, and hang out with my friends. I also love learning about and discussing politics.
Career Aspirations: I would love to go into international peace-building in some aspect. After I graduate, I plan to get a master’s degree and go to law school. I plan on focusing on human rights and international environmental issues, potentially working with the State Department or the United Nations.
Why Learning Life? Learning Life has inspired me to look at diplomacy from a smaller, more family-oriented scale. This has put things into perspective, and shown me what is truly important when considering international political issues. The connections made from this organization are truly irreplaceable.
Year, major and school: I am a junior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, majoring in International Relations with a concentration in the Middle East, and minors in Journalism and Hebrew & Arabic Language & Culture.
Hobbies: I enjoy being outdoors, and started rock climbing and sculling (rowing) in summer 2021. I am also a big fan of skiing and running. I ran more than 800 miles for the first time in 2020 and climbed four high peaks. Two goals of mine are to pursue mountaineering and backcountry skiing.
Career aspirations: I am interested in working as a journalist in the Middle East, or a freelance travel videographer and photographer.
Why Learning Life? Learning Life’s Family Diplomacy Initiative offers a great opportunity for young adults to learn first hand information from other young people around the world. Through this program, I learned about current news in different area of the world, how people with different ethnicities, religions and values share their perspectives, and where their views come from. What’s more, I learned how the program is able to bring diverse people together and foster a sense of global citizenship and community. Learning Life’s values and mission have encouraged me to think more broadly and inclusively about different viewpoints and ideas.
Year, major, and school: I am a second-year student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst pursuing a dual degree in Spanish and Linguistics with a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language and a certificate in American English Linguistics.
Hobbies: I enjoy trail running and discovering new places to run and explore. When I’m not spending time with my friends or playing with my cats, you’ll find me watching football.
Career aspirations: I chose to pursue a Spanish major when applying to colleges because it was the school subject that I felt most confident and excited about learning. Upon coming to college, I quickly learned about the many options for fields of study that I could pair with my Spanish major. When I discovered the certificate for Teaching English as a Second Language, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Though I’m still working out the details, I’d like to teach English to Spanish speakers, whether it be in the United States or abroad.
Why Learning Life? I joined Learning Life not only to learn more about Family Diplomacy and to share my experiences with families worldwide but also to connect with other Spanish speakers and people who are learning Spanish. During my time with Learning Life, I have communicated with countless Spanish speakers from around the world through my outreach. In return, I have been able to improve my conversational skills in a real-world setting in my journey to become bilingual.
Year, major, and school: I am a sophomore at George Washington University studying International Affairs. For the Spring 2022 semester, I will be transferring to Georgetown University and majoring in Government.
Hobbies: I love to run and exercise! When I am not busy studying, I like to spend time with friends and watch movies or cook together.
Career aspirations: My post-graduate plans are to either go to law school or to earn my Master’s Degree in Public Policy. My goal is to work for either the U.S. State Department in the Foreign Service or in the United Nations. I want to get involved in policy making, specifically peace negotiations. I am fascinated by different cultures and want to travel the world while helping people through policy!
Why Learning Life? Learning Life stood out to me because of its focus on education beyond school walls. Before I can get involved in organizations such as the State Department or United Nations, I feel I need to understand the foundation of familial ties worldwide. There are many instances in which the needs of families or those impacted by policy do not align with the interests of the policymakers themselves. The family dialogues appealed to me the most because they open the door to hard conversation topics while allowing people with different backgrounds to voice their opinions.
Year, major and school: I am a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, majoring in International Affairs with concentrations in International Politics and Europe & Eurasia, a second major in Political Science, and a minor in Italian Language & Literature.
Hobbies: In my free time, I love visiting my dogs in Annapolis and walking/fostering dogs here in DC! I’ve recently gotten into gardening and love using homegrown herbs in my cooking. I also enjoy traveling and exploring new places whenever I get the chance.
Career aspirations: I want to work for refugee assistance groups like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, International Rescue Committee, and the International Maritime Organization to help with reforming immigration policies. Specifically, I would like to work with migrants and refugees in Italy in refugee camps to help them through the asylum process.
Why Learning Life? I decided to intern with Learning Life because I think the idea of connecting families of different cultures across the world is unique and educates people about many global issues. I have always felt that education is central to creating more peaceful and sympathetic societies. Learning Life allows for different views to be expressed and expands members’ range of knowledge. It is great to see the growth of international understanding and appreciation for diversity!
Year, major and school: I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of California, Irvine studying Social Policy & Public Service with a focus on Education.
Hobbies: I enjoy listening to music, especially live music, as well as making jewelry, embroidering, reading, and drawing.
Career aspirations: I hope to work in the realm of education on solutions that benefit underserved communities. I am especially interested in addressing issues in and leading up to higher education.
Why Learning Life? I have always valued education highly and I appreciate Learning Life’s efforts to extend education past school walls, thus increasing its accessibility. I have also always enjoyed learning about different communities and cultures, and Learning Life’s international scope has allowed me the opportunity to do so.
VITTORIA VAN BLOMMESTEIN
Year, major, and school: I am a third year student in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs as well as Peace Studies. In my International Affairs degree I am concentrating on International Politics.
Hobbies: I enjoy playing tennis with my friends, leisure walks, traveling, and reading.
Career aspirations: I aim to continue my education in either graduate school or law school, then I would love to work in international conflict resolution. I’ve come to understand the value and importance of mediation and feel I have a good grasp on exercising this skill. I would greatly enjoy being able to apply political and psychological analysis to broker peaceful exchange between countries.
Why Learning Life? Learning Life’s Family Diplomacy Initiative really piqued my interests. I have always been a proponent of the spread of education, and being able to reach thousands of people abroad in fostering an environment where there’s an opportunity to learn about topics such as diplomacy and democracy fascinated me. The idea of equipping people with information to dialogue between countries with the aim to influence government is one I believe in strongly myself, so I’m happy to be part of the process.