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UT Junior Researches Middle East for Peacemaking Nonprofit

Published: August 30, 2011
Yasaman Sherbaf ’13 was a 2011 program intern with the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Task Force on the Middle East.
Yasaman Sherbaf ’13 was a 2011 program intern with the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Task Force on the Middle East.
Yasaman Sherbaf ’13 was up to her eyeballs in research this summer, breaking down to the dollar the U.S. military budget for the Middle East. She charted and created graphs and took notes on military aid to Israel, the funds spent on a U.S. camp to end the Israeli occupation, funding for U.S. military bases throughout the Middle East and U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia.

It was all part of her summer internship with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a nonprofit organization with U.S. offices in New York whose mission is to work for peace, justice and nonviolence. The end result of Sherbaf’s work will be a published paper on the organization’s website.

“In school I’ve taken history and government classes, but I had never really focused on any of these specific topics,” said Sherbaf, an international and cultural affairs major. “I learned a lot.”

One article Sherbaf wrote, “Social Media and Politics: Reconsidering the Twitter Revolution,” is posted to FOR’s website.

Sherbaf said she’s always had an interest in working in international affairs with people from different cultures, faiths and backgrounds. While at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, she networked with other staff members and plans to keep writing for the organization.

“I’m interested in peace work and helping others have a voice,” she said.

More than that, Sherbaf said the experience made her grow. While her hometown is in Fairfax, VA, she spent the summer onsite at FOR’s headquarters in Nyack, NY. Having to learn her way on her own helped prepare her for this fall semester where she’ll be studying abroad in Spain starting in September.

“This was just a small step for me, preparing me to study abroad,” said Sherbaf, who is minoring in Spanish. Coming from Iranian roots, she also speaks Farsi.

Sherbaf had a 2010 summer internship in Washington, D.C. with the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation, which was a unique experience itself. What she has learned is that taking the initiative to get an internship makes a difference.

“I was able to learn so much and increase my research skills and writing,” she said. “This experience has helped me move on to the next chapter in my life.”

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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