2017 Summer Interns
Waleed Alkoor is a junior at Davidson College in North Carolina, where he is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Arab Studies. As the descendant of Palestinian refugees from 1948, Waleed has always been drawn to studying about the history, politics, languages, and cultures of the Middle East and the Arab World. Last summer he traveled to Amman, Jordan where he studied intensive Arabic at the Qasid Institute and worked with Humans of Amman, a budding photo-journalism project. Waleed is deeply and personally motivated by the ongoing crisis in Palestine and sees himself learning, educating and working to resolve the conflict as a future professional career. Traveling and learning about our globalized world is one of Waleed’s top priorities, which is why he will be spending a year abroad studying at the Institut de Touraine in France and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon during this upcoming school year. Waleed would like to see more passionate young Arab Americans involved in writing and journalism. He is AAI’s external intern for the Brookings Institution.
Dina Al-Zu'bi is a junior at Wellesley College, majoring in Peace and Justice Studies, with a concentration on state-building in the context of failed and fragile states in the Middle East. Dina is Jordanian and Palestinian, and has spent most of her life in Jordan. She is passionate about community building and advocacy, and currently holds several leadership positions at Wellesley College, including, the 2017-2018 College Government Multicultural Affairs Coordinator. Dina is also an active member of Wellesley's Arab Women's Association which seeks to educate the community about Arab culture, and the complexities of Arab identity. Before coming to the U.S. to study, Dina took a gap year in Jordan to intern with Questscope working with at-risk and refugee youth. She loves photography, storytelling, and finding new spots to watch the sunset. Dina is an external intern placed at Just Vision.
Haley Arata is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, where she studied International Relations. Her studies focused on the Middle East and North Africa, the intersections of gender and sexuality in Muslim societies, and women’s rights-oriented international development efforts. Haley sees the voices and concerns of marginalized peoples, in the U.S. and abroad, as an integral part of policy decision-making. In 2016, Haley worked with KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, helping promote gender equity and civil rights through education and advocacy. During her junior year, Haley studied abroad in Jordan and hopes to return to the Middle East and continue learning Arabic soon. Haley is AAI’s Programs Intern.
Sarah Decker is a recent graduate of Bucknell University where she majored in Philosophy and International Relations with a Middle East focus and a minor in Arabic Language. Sarah participated in the Critical Language Scholarship Program the summer of 2016 where she studied Arabic language abroad and researched the Syrian and Palestinian refugee crises in Madaba, Jordan. She also partnered with the Facing History Organization and the NJ legislature to initiate a campaign to define the word upstander, encouraging individuals to stand up for others. Sarah is especially passionate about issues concerning the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the corresponding mechanisms of US foreign policy in the region. She wrote her senior honors thesis about selective international intervention and human rights violations in Palestine. Sarah hopes to continue studying these violations and specialize in International Human Rights Law at Georgetown Law this fall. Sarah is AAI’s Government Relations Intern.
Isaac Filat is a recent graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where he studied International Relations while on a pre-medical track. Isaac is of Palestinian and Turkish heritage and spent his summer months as a child in East Jerusalem. During his final year at Hendrix College, Isaac shifted his focus from medicine towards immigration law—a decision influenced by his family’s experience as Palestinian immigrants. His undergraduate research focused on global immigration policy and development. In 2016, he worked for a grassroots organization in Izmir, Turkey that provided healthcare and legal services to refugees and internally displaced persons in the Izmir Province. There he developed his Arabic skills and developed a deeper passion for immigrant issues. Isaac plans to attend law school and is currently an external intern placed at the National Immigration Law Center.
Annie Riley is a rising senior at Cornell University, where she studies Near Eastern Studies with minors in the Arabic Language, History, and Business. Annie’s interest in the Middle East sparked when she traveled to Egypt in March of 2010, just 10 months before the start of the Arab Spring in Egypt. Following her trip to Egypt, Annie began studying Arabic and has continued studying Arabic and the Middle East through high school and college. Annie spent the summer of 2016 in Amman, Jordan, where she studied Arabic and interned with the Jordan Transparency Center, a non-profit organization that helps to increase transparency and fight corruption. On campus, Annie serves as the Chief Administrative Officer for the social sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta; Recruitment Director for the business club, Cornell’s International Business Association; and Treasurer for Cornell Welcomes Refugees, a club devoted to assisting in the resettlement of refugees in the greater Ithaca area. Annie’s main interests lie in the macro Middle Eastern politics and its effects on United States policy. This summer, Annie is AAI’s Communications Intern.
Zaina Ujayli is an external intern placed at the Truman National Security Project and a proud Syrian-American. After living six years in Saudi Arabia, Zaina currently resides in Columbus, Ohio. She is a junior at The Ohio State University where she minors in business and majors in English with a U.S. Ethnic/Postcolonial focus centered around the Middle East. Zaina’s research and writing focuses on the relationship between politics and literature, and her senior thesis explores Muslim women’s literature from the 1950s to 9/11. In addition, her research on Third Culture Students in American Universities is undergoing following its presentation at the Denman Research Forum, and she is currently working on a creative project to present at the Midwest Writers’ Workshop. Zaina is looking forward to returning to Ohio to complete her senior year in the fall.
Kai Wiggins is a recent graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, where he studied Religion with separate focuses in Islam and American culture. Over the course of his time at Middlebury, Kai took a deeper interest in the politics of the Middle East, the influence of religion in the political domain, and the implications of US foreign policy in the region. He completed an honors thesis on the laws and ethics of armed conflict, the development of modern international law, and the influence of religious or ideological constraints on the spread of violence. He is most interested in studying the effect of new media technologies on governance and political institutions, in addition to the representation of conflict within the public sphere. Kai is AAI’s Policy Intern.
Oday Yousif is a recent graduate of San Diego State University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and emphasized in public law and campaign finance reform. He will be attending the California Western School of Law in the Fall. Oday is a first generation Arab American who is actively involved in his San Diego community that is home to one of the largest populations of Arab immigrants in the country. He focuses his work on aiding immigrant and refugee youth through integration programs and education criteria reform. Oday is of Iraqi heritage and is of Iraq's Chaldean community. San Diego's Chaldean community is the second largest in the world outside of Iraq. This summer, Oday is an external intern for No One Left Behind, an organization that aids with the resettlement of Iraqi and Afghani interpreters who served American forces in combat.