Temple of Understanding 2022 Summer Interns

Meet our 2022 TOU summer interns! We are very pleased to welcome interns virtually from around the world this summer with a unique variety of backgrounds and interests.

Our interns have begun to explore many topics – ecological justice, women’s initiatives, interfaith education, human rights, and more. They have also spent several days virtually attending meetings at the UN and meeting with a number of interesting speakers from the UN system, including UNODA, UNFPA, and several NGOs to discuss important topics and dive into the work of the Temple of Understanding.

The interns have especially appreciated participating in the Temple of Understanding’s ECO JUSTICE FOR ALL Dialogues on taking action now through climate youth activism. In addition, they have participated in two religious site visits to learn about Sikhism and Won Buddhism.

We are looking forward to continuing our conversations and research this summer, attending HLPF meetings and side events, and teaching youth about the TOU and the UN. At the end of the program, we are excited to have each intern share a final project, and we hope you will join us for these presentations!

Amy Pacula, Director of Summer Internship Program, Temple of Understanding.

Summer Interns

Hello there. My name is Kirsten Atuhaire, and I come from Uganda. I recently graduated from high school, and am excited to begin this internship this summer. I am grateful and ecstatic to collaborate and connect with such a diverse group of students while pursuing my interests. I am inquisitive about climate justice, sustainability, and urban development in developing countries. I hope to learn so much more through this program! 

Aisha Ayub is a rising senior at The Ohio State University studying Neuroscience and Public Health. Aisha is interested in the intersections between women’s rights, mindfulness, health, and the environment, and is working to start a fashion brand that unites her interests. She is excited to research these topics further as an intern with the Temple of Understanding at the UN.

Hello! My name is Rocio Fabbro. I am 21 years old and a rising senior at New York University, double-majoring in International Relations and Journalism, with a minor in French. Having been born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, I have always valued an international perspective. My experiences as an immigrant, and now as an international student here in the United States, have greatly shaped my academic, professional, and personal interests. I aim to bring this international lens into my journalistic work, as well as to my research and professional pursuits. I am particularly passionate about international affairs, multilateral cooperation, intersectionality, and the role of the United Nations in international human rights, migration and refugee rights, and economic development. During my time at TOU, I hope to further explore these topics (and more!), learn from the diverse experiences of fellow interns, and develop valuable research skills.

Bethelihem Gebresilasie is a 21-year-old student, writer, and artist from Eritrea. She is currently attending NYU: Gallatin. She grew up traveling from Eritrea, to Sudan, to Uganda, and finally to America. These travels have influenced the way she sees and relates to the world in the sense that she sees every encounter and interaction as an adventurous journey. She is interested in the TOU to expand her knowledge of religions. Religions are organized belief systems that prolifically influence the way people behave in relationship to members of the religion and those outside it. She is interested in learning about how an individual can comprehend the world through divinity. Her interest in the UN stems from attempting to understand the international relations of her country. She will be researching the history of Eritrea and its wars in order to understand her origins in the most historically-accurate way. Eritrea is a solitary country, isolated from most nations, and largely inaccessible to outside understanding. Therefore, she will be combining her lived experience while accounting for pre-existing study on the country and its development.  

My name is Mathilda Jilg, and I am 22 years old from Stockholm, Sweden. Having previously studied and worked abroad in six continents, my enthusiasm for multiculturalism and international sustainability, and their value within the social sciences, can be prominently demonstrated. Through these international experiences, I have come to discern the complex and interdependent nature of modern societies shaped by socio-political, economic, as well as cultural factors. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies at Uppsala University, where I am truly excited to learn more and grow within this field. I find intersectionality in all of its different adaptations and applicable areas fascinating, especially within sustainability. Hence, for this internship, I anticipate looking beyond solely gender issues, and instead also incorporating the whole identity spectrum within the field. I look forward to this opportunity and to meeting other like-minded individuals.

Kit Man Simon Law is a 17-year-old rising senior at the QSI International School of Shenzhen. Simon was born in Hong Kong, but he has lived in China since 2008. As a student, Simon is actively engaged in community activities, such as the NEHS, NCHS, Student Council, and NHS. His academic interests in history, particularly Greek studies, have prompted him to learn more about ethnic and national issues that need to be urgently solved, especially after visiting Turkey and learning about the devastating effects of the 1923 Greek-Turkey population exchange. Firmly believing that the UN enhances inter-cultural exchange and communication to maintain world peace, Simon intends to bring his passion in history and the UN’s peace-keeping initiatives to the TOU experience. He is looking forward to collaborating with other interns and meeting official speakers from various UN organizations.

My name is Annie Ling, and I am 17 years old. I am a high school student from an international school in Beijing. I love the topics that are discussed at the UN and TOU, particularly women’s initiatives. I feel that I have been lucky and privileged in receiving the same respect and support as boys from the people around me. However, shocking news and somber, real-life stories I have read in books repeatedly remind me that lots of girls my age are experiencing the harm of gender inequality. Living under the sunshine does not mean there are no dark corners in the world. With this in mind, TOU became the best opportunity for me to discuss social issues with brilliant and brave young people. I appreciate this opportunity very much, and I am looking forward to the program. Cowards choose to live in blindness, but a fighter will not. I hope everyone in the program can gain a deeper understanding of the social issue they chose, and I hope we can all use this experience to combat prejudices and injustice in the future.

Hello! My name is Maria Mayer, and I am 20 years old. Originally from Berlin, I now live in New York and am studying Social Anthropology and International Relations at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Our increasingly globalizing world can be explained from so many perspectives, some including the voices of those who have been systemically silenced in political and societal discussions. Approaching issues that intertwine with one another can make it extremely challenging to arrive at a shared set of goals for an “international community.” I am fascinated by the complexity of the world system and the societal hierarchies and beliefs that keep it in place. I want to gain new insights at Temple of Understanding that sharpen my critical thinking by engaging with people that care about addressing injustice, from like-minded interns to the United Nations officials making decisions that affect the world.

My name is Michael Murray, and I am 17 years old. I am from Chicago, Illinois, but my background as an American-Lithuanian has given me a unique perspective on global politics and culture. My interest in international politics started through Model United Nations. Over the past three years with Model UN, I have had the opportunity to travel across the United States and meet with thousands of students from around the globe with whom I can tackle the UN’s biggest issues. I am also the founder of a political discussion and advocacy club at my high school, and a youth leadership board member for WorldChicago Youth Diplomats, a nonprofit with a focus on citizen diplomacy. These experiences have instilled in me a profound passion for global affairs, public policy, diplomacy, and civic responsibility. I am very excited to continue to examine and conduct research on topics that are important to me, including sustainability, human rights, immigration, and international law.

Hi everyone! My name is Ivy Na, and I am 17 years old. I am from South Korea, but the UK has become my second home after having studied in the UK now for nearly six years. For hobbies, I am a big fan of playing netball and I love watching all sorts of movies – ranging from sad ones to funny, romantic ones. I am particularly passionate about equality in education and refugee rights. I currently work as an academic mentor for refugee students, as well as a student ambassador for a grassroot Afghan refugee charity to help aid underrepresented, marginal groups in society. Over the summer, I am also planning on starting my own NGO to improve the problem of literacy around the world, providing a platform of resources of education. Throughout this internship, I hope to further explore my areas of interest as such, and am really  looking forward to all the diverse discussions we can have in an international setting.

Hi there, my name is Alex Smith. I am 19 years old and currently a student at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY where I am majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. I have grown up in New York City, but I have also spent a lot of time in Australia where I have dual citizenship. I am very excited for this summer where I will have the opportunity to learn more about the UN as a whole and the collective efforts of NGOs, like the TOU, to create positive change. One of the topics that I am particularly interested in is ecological justice, in which both the UN and the TOU are both involved. I hope that I can be a valuable intern to the TOU and to finish the summer having gained knowledge and experience in the field of foreign affairs and sustainability. 

Hi! My name is Tina Yang and I am a rising senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. I was born and raised in Shanghai, China, but moved to the United States in 3rd grade, and have been going to boarding schools since 7th grade. Due to my role as a minority here in the US, I am extremely passionate about serving people in need and finding ways to better their lives. I volunteer at Voices of Brain Injury, where we seek to raise awareness and connect the traumatic brain injury community through shared stories and research. I have also started an organization myself, called Impartial History, where we utilize primary sources so people can form their own understanding of a historical narrative. I hope TOU can expose me to the behind the scenes of working full-time on solving humanitarian issues, so I can continue making my path towards making a difference in the world!

Hello, my name is Mirka Vasquez. I am seventeen years old from the United States. Although I am from the northeast, I consider my home to be in Lima, Peru, as I spent a large part of my upbringing there. As for hobbies, I enjoy riding my bike, playing guitar, and learning new languages. I am fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and I am currently learning Italian and French. Using my language skills, I have been able to volunteer helping immigrant families learn English and study for the US citizenship exam, an experience I have found to be very formative of my interest in immigration policy and human rights. Additionally, I find myself interested in issues pertaining to sustainable development. I would love to explore how the conservation of our environment can create new jobs, for both men and women alike, furthering the intersectionality of job creation. To me, ecology and economy are intrinsically linked. Through the TOU program, I hope to widen my vision beyond the barriers of my ignorance. I am very excited about this virtual learning opportunity!

I am Yanrun (Jenny) Zhu, a 17-year old girl with passion and love, persistence and resilience, logic and creativity. I am studying at the Experimental High School attached to Beijing Normal University. I am interested in improving the livelihood of people with amentia — severe natal mental disability. So I founded a club at school last year and have 50+ members at this point. The club organizes three activities with over 60 participants in all, and it focuses on eliminating the gap between children with amentia and those who do not.

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