Intern Spotlight: Vanessa Rincon

This is the third in a series of spotlights on our spring 2018 student interns.  Learning Life’s students this spring are assisting with research, outreach, fundraising, and international family-to-family projects focused on community photography and food culture as part of our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI).  Vanessa Rincon, interviewed below, is, among other things, helping with curriculum development, CDI document translation from English to Spanish, and guiding families in Washington DC and San Salvador, El Salvador through their shared community photo project.

Vanessa Rincon

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in the Queens Borough of New York City, and raised on the south shore of Long Island, New York from age 2.

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

I am a graduating senior International Business and Spanish for International Service double major at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My parents refer to me as a tick (pulga in Spanish) because of my constant need to move around and do something.  Some of my greatest pastimes include cooking (Italian and Colombian especially), riding my bike around the city, and dancing to Latino music.  Dancing is a happy movement of the feet and body which always manages to brighten my mood.  Being Latina, I enjoy all types of Latino music, from Salsa and Cumbia to Bachata and Reggaeton, plus music my parents danced to when they were my age.

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 am the youngest daughter of two Colombian parents who immigrated to the United States when they were in their early twenties.  As a second-generation American, I believe my entire upbringing has shaped me into being the woman that I am today. Growing up wasn’t easy as my older sister and I were the main translators for our parents since childhood. This made us mature sooner due to the dependency my parents had on us. My parents sacrificed so much for our education and happiness that I became motivated to give back to them and our culture through educating myself in their language to the best of my ability.  That motivation also spurred my travels to Latin American countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and The Dominican Republic.

What are your career plans?

I remember going to school during the day to learn English, and coming home to learn Spanish from my mother who had bought a chalkboard to teach us Spanish during our elementary school years.  Since then, I have always been fond of learning languages.  With this deeply rooted in me since my childhood, I aspire to work as a translator and become an expatriate setting up subsidiaries in South America for an American Multinational Corporation. I desire to travel as much as possible and be part of a movement that better unites the American continents.

Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life?

As my last semester at The Catholic University of America, I was given the choice of interning and using my Spanish skills or taking another Spanish course.  While I do enjoy learning Spanish in class, I thought it would be interesting and more rewarding to practice my Spanish abilities while also learning about how a non-profit impacts society.  Learning Life has the same desire to unite cultures and educate people about other countries.  It felt like it was part of my destiny to intern with Learning Life.

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

The most beautiful place I have seen on Earth would have to be La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica (featured in the attached photo). While studying abroad in Costa Rica in 2016, I was able to walk all the way down to the bottom of this immense waterfall and swim in the water.  The colors, sounds, and the natural immensity it provides showed me how beautiful creation is.