Posted on June 19, 2014 in Arab American Institute

Every summer, AAI selects a small group of interns from an applicant pool of almost 200 undergraduates and recent graduates. Chosen interns are deeply involved in their communities, highly successful in their studies, often speak multiple languages, and demonstrate hard work and enthusiasm in all aspects of their lives. Interns are selected to represent AAI at a variety of organizations in Washington, DC and abroad, ranging from advocacy groups and political parties to members of Congress and government agencies.

We are looking forward to working with our Summer 2014 interns, selected from a remarkably competitive field for their impressive history, experience, and motivation. Each person has unique skillsets and many have already produced excellent research and reports.

AAI will feature the writings of each of these interns in the coming months, so look out for guest posts from each of the people below.

Interested in interning with AAI? Learn more about our internship program and apply to the 2014 Fall Internship Program here.

Elizabeth Adams graduated from the University of Illinois with degrees in Global Studies and Earth Systems, Environment, and Society and a minor in Arab Studies. As an undergraduate, she traveled to Amman, Jordan and studied at the Jordanian Institute of Diplomacy while interning for an environmental NGO, “Friends of the Earth Middle East.” She contributed to research and the development of the Good Water Neighbors project and the Jordan River Rehabilitation project. Upon her return to the United States, she became a certified mediator and was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors at a non-profit conflict resolution center. Additionally, she held a position as an Academic Hourly under the Middle East and North Africa Specialist at the University of Illinois’ International and Area Studies Library where she worked with the Arabic, Persian, French, and Ottoman Turkish collections. Finally, she worked as a site educator for Cunningham Children’s Home providing emotional, educational, vocational, and spiritual support to teenagers and young adults who were recovering from traumatic childhood experiences. This summer, she is placed at the Arab American Institute.


Deema Al Ghunaim is from the UAE and Kuwait, and is currently a rising senior at Georgetown University where she studies international politics with a focus on international law. This summer, she will be working at the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force, which focuses on civil society initiatives primarily in Syria and Palestine. Deema’s primary interests include peace-building, policy studies and women’s empowerment in the Middle East. Her previous internships include working in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Division of the Dubai Financial Services Authority.


Born to a Greek-American mother and a Lebanese father, Madelaine Assi is a rising senior at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida majoring in International Relations with a minor in Economics. She became particularly interested in the narratives and experiences of refugees after working at the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services Center last spring in New Haven, Connecticut. This summer, she will be interning at Churches for Middle East Peace and then traveling to Beirut to attend a 6-week intensive Arabic class at the Lebanese American University. She plans to spend the upcoming school year completing her photography-based Honors thesis with data collected during her experience this summer. Madelaine will begin applying to various graduate degree programs for Middle Eastern/Arab Studies in the D.C. and New York areas. Eventually, she hopes to establish herself in the field of foreign policy in the Middle East with a focus on conflict resolution.


Nora Chamma is a Syrian-American born in Arlington, Virginia to parents from Damascus and Homs. She is a rising junior at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service where she is majoring in International Politics with a concentration in Foreign Policy & Processes. She is also pursuing a certificate in Arab Studies. Prior to interning at AAI, Nora held managerial positions at KUMON and JW Tumbles where she instructed developmental classes for children of all backgrounds to teach them mathematics and English and to enhance their social skills. Nora also served as Jr. Youth Advisor to her church's Teen SOYO (Society of Orthodox Youth Organization), where she coordinated pan-Orthodox social events, simultaneously working to preserve Arab heritage among the Arab American Christian community and raise funds for humanitarian relief in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. Her primary interests are in the Arabic language, conflict-resolution and international development, specifically in areas of the Middle East.


Emily Cooke was born and raised in Ellicott City, Maryland. Emily is a rising senior at Davidson College in North Carolina, and will graduate with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Religion. At Davidson, Emily plays on the lacrosse team and serves as captain. Outside of athletics, she is involved with DIA, a campus based association for both international students and those interested in international political affairs. During the fall of 2013 Emily attended school in Copenhagen, Denmark. During her semester abroad Emily primarily studied the intersection between religion and politics, specifically the relationship between Islam and democracy. Emily also spent time volunteering for Trampoline House, a nonprofit organization designed to aid asylum seekers in Denmark. Emily is excited to be placed at the Center for American Progress this summer, where she will be working on issues related to Islamophobia.


Jad Ireifej is placed at Welcome.US, working towards making June the first ever Immigrant Heritage Month. A rising senior at Davidson College, majoring in Political Science, Jad has been abroad almost as often as he has been in the classroom, studying in nine different countries – including Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Oman, and the UAE – during his college tenure. Born in Atlanta, Georgia to a Jordanian father and a WASP mother who “hardly knew what an Arab was,” Jad grew up in Connecticut, California, Dubai, Amman, South, and North Carolina. He blames his life of travel on his father’s ‘alleged’ Bedouin blood. Jad has previously worked at KB Charitable Trust in Greenville, SC as an intern at a camp for at-risk-youths and volunteered at the Madras Christian College’s Community College, a school for non-traditional and socially disadvantaged students in Tambaram, India. He has a passion for social justice through education. The son of an immigrant who came to the United States with nothing but his 9 siblings and strong mother, Jad is proud of his immigrant heritage and how this country gave his family the chance to work towards a better life, and is happy to be a part of the larger movement to guarantee that America continues to be a land of opportunity for immigrants. He is also a carpenter in the Davidson College Scene Shop and President of the Davidson Middle East and North African Student Association.


Nadeem Istfan is currently pursuing a BA/MA in Economics, a BA in International Relations, and a minor in Arabic at Boston University. His research interests are Economic Development and Political Economy. As the former BU Lebanese Club President, Nadeem has promoted Arab culture around campus through various social events. During his leadership, he organized a five hundred person Lebanese Hafla at BU with authentic food, live music, and traditional dancing. This summer, Nadeem is the Demographics Intern at AAI, helping improve and update documents regarding the demographic profile of Arab Americans.


Hanane Lahnaoui is a rising senior at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. She is majoring in International Economics and Multi-Languages (Chinese & French) and minoring in Government. Last summer, Hanane worked as a research assistant for the Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Lab at the School of Social Development and Public Policy at Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China. Her research focused on social finance and how it contributes to economic development around the world. Hanane has previously worked with the Amideast office in Morocco where she assisted with the study abroad programs conducted in the country. Hanane spent last semester in Washington, DC doing an off-campus program with the Washington Center where she interned with Manchester Trade, an international trade and investment company, while taking a class on Global Business and volunteering at the Ethiopian Community Center. At St. Lawrence, Hanane is a teaching assistant for Arabic classes and an intern at the Language Resources Center. Previously, she served as the president for the Islamic Culture Club. This summer, Hanane is working with the Brookings Institute. Hanane is Moroccan and is fluent in Arabic, French and English and has a basic understanding of Chinese and Spanish.


Sara Maaiki is a senior at Wheaton College in Massachusetts where she is a double major in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. A Lebanese-American, she is involved with her college’s Intercultural Center, Interfaith Alliance and Middle Eastern Awareness Club. Before joining the Arab American Institute, Sara spent half her junior year studying abroad at the University of Haifa in the Honors Peace & Conflict Studies Program. During her semester abroad, she was an intern at Kayan-Arab Feminist Organization. Here she acted as an English writing liaison for the Palestinian foundation, publishing numerous English language reports and networking with other organizations. This summer, Sara will be working in the office of Representative Karen Bass (CA-37). After graduation, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree with a focus on the Levantine countries of the Middle East.


Myles Teasley is a 2014 graduate of Davidson College from Los Angeles, CA, where he majored in Political Science and Arabic. At Davidson, he served as President of the Middle East and North African Students Association, Vice Presicent of the Pre-Law Society, and was heavily involved in student government. He was also an Arabic Department tutor his senior year. His interest in the Arab World led him to study abroad for two summers and a semester in Tunisia and Morocco. He has previously interned with the ACLU in Los Angeles, the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID) in Tunisia, and was a Field Intern in Morocco with the Solidarity Center MENA Field Office. Myles’ primary interests lie at the confluence of foreign policy, conflict resolution, identity politics, and youth apathy and political mobilization in the Maghreb. Myles looks forward to returning to DC in a year for a master’s degree in Arab or Middle East Studies. Myles is a government relations intern at AAI.

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