WTCI Youth Diplomats Program: A student’s heartfelt advice on pursuing an internship

Updated: Aug 16

Written by: Yunling Ying

Edited by, Adrian Tabije & Autumn Young

August 11, 2022

Recently, KwF’s Executive Director and Founder, Princess Aliyah Pandolfi was invited to conduct a seminar at the 2022 WTCI Youth Diplomats Program to a room of talented and driven young leaders. On this week’s blog, our new Graphic Design and Global Relations intern Yunling Ying speaks on her experience as a program participant.

Yunling is a rising senior based in Maryland who is interested in pursuing a career in international business and marketing. She is from Shanghai, China, and is fluent in Chinese with a basic understanding of Spanish. In addition to her fellowship at the WTCI and her internship with KwF, she is an active youth leader with Hopeworks, an advocacy center for victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, where she serves as a community engagement liaison and receives training to recognize harmful interpersonal interactions. In school, Yunling has created the Clothing Collective, a passion project of hers that focuses on supporting sustainable fashion choices and creating a safe school community for self-expression.

In the heart of Baltimore City’s Inner Harbor, next to the National Aquarium and the Columbus Center, lies the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI), where I have been spending one Saturday a month since January 2022.

How did I end up with such an opportunity as a junior in high school? By gaining acceptance into the Youth Diplomats Program, a fantastic program hosted by the WTCI. Every month, students hear from multiple guest speakers and participate in hands-on activities and discussions to understand the multifaceted approaches of diplomacy. We discuss public speaking, conflict resolution, technology, and sustainability. The program aims to jumpstart high school students' careers by familiarizing them with the knowledge, tools, and applications in addressing the world's most pressing social issues and global challenges.

International wall of flags located in the lobby of the World Trade Center Institute building.

I discovered the Youth Diplomats Program, open to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the greater Baltimore area, through an interest in international business. While scouting for information about the industry during my sophomore summer, I contacted Aisha Jones of the Baltimore Trade Commission. She answered many industry questions that I had over a Zoom meeting as we were in the peak of COVID quarantine. Aisha referred me to consider the program as she felt it would benefit me. I looked into the program details, and although it was too late to apply for my sophomore year, I made a mental note to apply the following year.

The application required basic details such as school, class, address, and extracurriculars. Furthermore, there were creative essay questions that explored your interests and personality. One thing I appreciated about the application was the lack of word limits. I took full advantage of that golden opportunity to write without limitations because I am someone who can't seem to stop writing once I've started. The board truly wants to hear everything you have to say, even if that means sifting through longer responses.

In my eight months with the WTCI, I have learned about many new topics that are not covered in my school’s curriculum, and have refined my knowledge on some topics that I have had experience with. Some who really stood out to me include:

  • Dr. Laura Sicola, who taught me about Public Speaking and Communication in a Cross-Cultural Context

  • Nick Brooks, director of Soccer Without Borders, who taught me about Refugee Migration and Reintegration

  • Princess Aliyah Pandolfi, founder of the Kashmir World Foundation (KwF), along with her student panel, who taught me about Leveraging Technology as a Catalyst for Change

Aliyah Pandolfi, Executive Director and Founder of KwF, spoke with WTCI participants on how to leverage technology as a catalyst of change.