Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet the 2013-2014 Alt. Break Israel Participants!

We are excited to share with you our great group of participants. We seriously could not have asked for a better group of active citizens (you all rule!).

Name: Aimal Ahmadzai
Hometown: Centreville, VA
Area of Study: MBA, International Emerging Markets

Aimal Ahmadzai is a 2nd year MBA candidate at American University. Aimal is focusing on international business and development in emerging markets, with a special concentration on anti-corruption and transparency. Before joining the MBA program, he worked for several years as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and the Federal Aviation Administration. This past summer, Aimal served abroad as a Political/Economic section intern at the US Embassy in Tajikistan, participating in meetings with the local government on the topics of trafficking, foreign direct investment, and non-proliferation. Aimal also worked through the UNHCR to teach English to Afghan refugees in Tajikistan and hopes to continue helping refugees on this trip to Israel.

Name: Jessie Block
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Area of Study: International Relations with a minor in education

I am a sophomore at American University, interested in service in all forms. My major is International Relations with a minor in education and the Middle East is my passion. I’m a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity on campus, and every summer I volunteer at the Children’s Village, an alternative approach to foster care, in Karmiel, Israel. I love languages, reading, writing, and travelling. I also have five dogs! I’m looking forward to travelling to Israel with this incredible and diverse group of people to serve and learn more about the refugee and asylum seeker community there.

Name: Emily Bird
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Major of Study: Graduate Student in the International Training and Education Program

Emily is a first year CAS graduate student working in international development. She spent her undergraduate years at AU as well, in the School of International Service. Emily served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger where she worked in a rural community on education and municipal development projects. She has since spent time teaching middle school and adult students in DC, and working on international development programming. Having studied conflict resolution as an undergraduate student, she is interested in exploring education in conflict and refugee situations.

Name: Jes Walton
Hometown: Salida, CO
Area of Study: Second year, dual master's degree: SIS (MA International Affairs) and UN Mandated University for Peace (MA Natural Resources and Sustainable Development); concentration in Food and Agriculture

Jes enjoys working with people and their environments. She has conducted thesis research in Tanzania, completed a Peace Corps service in Gambia and visited many West and North African nations. Jes will build upon these experiences by exploring why African refugees are forced to leave their homes and the challenges they face abroad. While in Israel, she is interested in understanding how refugees access culturally appropriate and nutritious foods and maintain important traditions around eating. Is there potential for peace building and integration through this common human experience? She also hopes to learn about the governmental programs and nongovernmental organizations that support these basic needs. She looks forward to sharing good food and exciting educational opportunities with her fellow American University students and creating lasting relationships with future friends in Israel.

Name: Rebecca Gustine (Becca)
Hometown: East Hampton, CT
Major: Public Health (BA) w/ Applied Physics and International Business minors

I am 19 years old and from a small town in Connecticut. I have an older brother who is 21 years old and goes to school in Boston. I grew up on my family’s Campground (Nelson’s Family Campground) so I am an outdoorsy person. And I play soccer and basketball and do various other seasonal outdoor sports.

I have worked at the campground since I was 14, along with working at a regional high school the town over from me. At RHAM I worked primarily with students with special needs and completed a 120-hour internship with them. I have a passion for working with people who have learning and developmental delays and hope to continue that.

Name: Karen Flores Garcia
Hometown: Denver, CO
Area of Study: Graduate Student in the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs Program

My name is Karen Flores Garcia, I am a second-year graduate student at the American University’s School of International Service. I will obtain a Master’s degree with the Ethics, Peace, & Global Affairs program with a focus on human rights. I was born and raised in Colorado where I also obtained my Bachelor’s from the University of Colorado, Boulder; majoring in International Affairs and Italian. I am a first-generation student with roots from Mexico. As such I am interested in a variety of issues concerning human rights, primarily human trafficking, migration, women’s issues, and child labor rights. I currently form part of the leadership for the Society for Ethics, Peace, & Global Affairs which also promotes awareness in human rights and advocates for change in a range of issues, while maintaining ethical and philosophical perspectives in mind. As well as the AU Student Human Rights Collaboration Committee, a student committee designed to coordinate all human rights event on campus and foster collaboration among students, faculty, and staff. During my free time, I enjoy reading and always attempting to further my knowledge on a variety of issues, as well painting and relaxing with movies.

Name: Kylen Button
Hometown: Culpeper, VA
Area of Study: International Studies and Philosophy

Hi! My name is Kylen and I am so excited to be a part of the alternate break in Israel this winter! I am from a teeny-tiny town in Virginia called Culpeper. This is my second year in college, but first year at American! (I just transferred here this fall) I am studying International Studies and Philosophy, and hope to work for nonprofit organizations (hopefully organizations that help those who have been human trafficked) in predominately Buddhist practicing populations in Asia.

Name: Sarah Schmidt
Hometown: Mansfield, OH
Area of Study: Graduate Student in the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs Program

I am originally from a town in Central Ohio called Mansfield. I studied Literature and Religious Studies at Ohio State University and graduated in 2011. During my undergraduate years I coached swimming and coordinated two swim lessons programs. From 2010 until 2013 I worked for the Admissions Department at OSU. Some of my responsibilities included recruiting students, coordinating visit days, supervising several student organizations, and assisting with the Haiti Empowerment Project—a service learning initiative through the education department. After finding the School of International Service at American University I decided to leave higher education and pursue a Masters in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. I am also part of the Masters International program which will allow me to do 27 months with the Peace Corps between my two years of graduate coursework. Outside of schoolwork, I enjoy hiking, walking, and running with my dog, Milton.

This alternative break trip interested me because I have been involved in service learning initiatives at Ohio State and I also love to travel and experience cultures. Between leisure and professional work I have had the opportunity to visit 19 countries. Much of my leisurely travel has been with my Mom; she definitely instilled the travel bug in me at a young age. The longest experience I have had outside of the US was in Kenya in 2009. I was involved in education and community development in a rural area of the Rift Valley region. Through foreign language study and my stay in Kenya, I am efficient in Swahili. I’m looking forward to learning about Israel and experiencing the culture, as well as, working with African refugees and learning about their unique experience taking asylum in Israel.

Name: Bersabell Yeshitla
Hometown: Cambridge, MA
Area of Study: School of International Service majoring in International Studies with a focus in Africa and a minor in Public Administration and Policy

My name is Bersabell Yeshitla. I'm an Ethiopian American from Cambridge Massachusetts. I'm a sophomore in the School of International Service majoring in International Studies with a focus in Africa and a minor in Public Administration and Policy. I tutor kids in the DC Public Schools system as a DC Reads Team Leader. I am also a School of International Service Mentor for the Gateway Program. I love photography, movies, music, food, traveling, and trying new things. I can't wait to go to Israel to further my education and gain unforgettable life experiences. I look forward to learning tons more about African Refugees, working with their communities, and raising awareness about the issues they are faced with when I return.

Name: Hurubie Meko
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Area of Study: School of Communication's Print Journalism Program and International Relations

My name is Hurubie Meko and I'm from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I am currently a sophomore at American University. I am in the School of Communication's Print Journalism program and hope to double major in International Relations.

I was born and raised in Ethiopia and moved to the US at the age of 7. Because of my early travels between different places and people, I have always been interested in cultures. Also, I absolutely love traveling. However, my interest in different cultures is what makes me interested in journalism. The idea of going all over the world and having the honor of telling the stories of people who are not heard, makes me excited for the future.

Name: Andréia Barcellos
Hometown: Medianeira, Brazil
Area of Study: International relations, MA International Peace and Conflict Resolution

In my life, I had the opportunity to live in different places, and meet people with unusual backgrounds, cultures and stories. This becomes my passion: travel, meet people and appreciate cultures. Also, following my parents’ example, I was often engaged in volunteering projects, which I always liked to do during my free time. Through college, I worked in an Organization that I was always in contact with people from other countries. I used to love doing it, and I learned a lot of how to deal with other cultures in a more professional environment. After graduate, I worked in Egypt for a while, and perceiving the consequences of a conflict in the society made me realize what I want to do in life: work in conflict areas, trying to help different parties to reach an agreement, and supporting the population who suffers with the violence. For this reason, I am currently living in Washington, pursuing my Master’s degree.

Name: Lucette Moran
Hometown: Cheshire, CT
Area of Study: Cross-Cultural Justice

Lucette Moran is a second-year student at American University studying Cross-Cultural Justice, a self-designed interdisciplinary program with the objective of combining international studies, law, and theatre studies. She has studied French and Arabic (MSA) and will be focusing her regional studies in the Middle East and North Africa. She is passionate about service, human rights and social justice, theatre, music, teaching, reading, and writing. One of her main life goals is to never stop learning. In the coming semester, Lucette will begin working as an intern at D.C. Stop Modern Slavery, an organization that consists of over 1,000 volunteers to fight the significant human trafficking issue in our nation’s capital. She looks forward to this trip to Israel as a whole, but she is particularly excited to work with children and help design a performing arts curriculum at the after school program.

Name: Illana M. Lancaster (Faculty Advisor)

Illana Lancaster is an Assistant Professor in the International Training and Education Program (ITEP) in the School for Education, Teaching, and Health (SETH) at American University in Washington, DC where she teaches and researches. Dr. Lancaster is a critical qualitative researcher interested in issues of equity, access, and gender with a regional focus on southern Africa and a contextual focus on the urban. Dr. Lancaster's teaching interests focus on cultivating critical global citizens to participate in the development of a more just and equitable world. With the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Dr. Lancaster has trained more than 250 peacekeeping officers on conflict analysis, communication, negotiation and protection of civilians in conflict and post-conflict contexts through the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. Country battalions trained include Togo, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia, a M.Ed. from The George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Lancaster resides in Washington, D.C.

Name: Heidi Bloom (Co-Trip Leader)
Hometown: Hartford, SD
Area of Study: Graduate student in the International Training and Education Program

Heidi Bloom is a second year graduate student in the International Training and Education Program (ITEP). She is on the international development track with a special interest in peace education. Heidi lived in Israel for five months, working at the African Refugee Development Center developing a mentor program for asylum-seeking children. She has been looking forward to working with this community once again and raising an awareness of the issue.

Name: Annelise Cohon  (Co-Trip Leader)
Hometown: Hackensack, NJ
Area of Study: Graduate Student in the International Training and Education Program

Annelise Cohon is a second year graduate student in the International Training and Education Program (ITEP). She is interested in international development and global health. Annelise spent a year in Israel as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar studying Peace and Conflict studies at the University of Haifa and working at the oldest grassroots feminist center in Israel, Isha’L’Isha. While in Israel, Annelise examined human trafficking and disability issues.

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