Intern Spotlight: Yesica Sorto-Argueta

This is the first 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).  Yesica Sorto-Argueta, interviewed below, is, among other things, helping with research, outreach, CDI document translation from English to Spanish, and guiding families in Washington DC and San Salvador, El Salvador through their international food culture project.

Yesica Sorto-ArguetaWhere were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in El Salvador. My parents are Salvadoran immigrants that came to the United States 23 years ago. I was left in the care of my grandmother and eight aunts until the age of 4, when I was brought to the United States.  Growing up in El Salvador and going back throughout the years has motivated me to help people who are at a disadvantage. I am fortunate that I am part of two cultures, American and Salvadoran, and I have the opportunity to combine this to help others.

I am a senior at George Mason University pursuing a bachelors in psychology with a concentration in child development. My interest in psychology began when I started at Northern Virginia Community College, where I learned more about the unfortunate abusive situations many children find themselves in.  Throughout my life I have always wished to help others, and I believe psychology is the best degree to help me reach this goal.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time what I enjoy the most is photography.  I was enrolled in a course at George Mason in which I learned techniques. Most of the time I photograph nature and portraits of strangers.  I believe photography is a creative form of expression that is open to interpretation, and that can open dialogue.

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?

A Life experience that has shaped me is a class I enrolled in last year called “Community Engagement.”  The course opened my eyes to many injustices that minorities face in the United States, including poverty, wage inequality and discrimination.  Through the course, I volunteered in a nonprofit that works with children from a lower-socioeconomic status.  One girl I worked with would complete her homework tasks quickly in order to get the little prizes — stickers, small toys — the nonprofit offered kids who completed their work, little prizes her family could not afford.  It was a rewarding experience that made me want to be more involved in my community and in nonprofits.

What are your career plans?

My plans for the future include becoming certified in child counseling.  I want to use play therapy to help children who come from harsh backgrounds.  I wish to have my own practice but also give my services free to parents that cannot pay for these services.  I have a sister with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and know the hardships my parents have to go through to get services for her, so I hope I can make it easier for others in the future.

Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life?

I chose to intern with Learning Life because I saw it as great opportunity to grow.  Learning Life seems unique because it tries to create change in a way I had not seen before, connecting families around the world through the internet.  This opens new experiences for the participants they otherwise might not have.

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

The most beautiful or magical place on Earth I have seen is Disneyland in California.  I had wished to go from a very young age, and I finally got to see it at age 14 with my sister, who was 2 or 3 at the time.  It was particularly fun to experience my sister’s excited reactions to Disneyland, but my family and I all loved taking the rides and seeing the fireworks together.  It was thus beautiful because it was a place where I shared amazing memories with my family.