Juan Diego López Rodríguez
As an Education Program Summer intern with the Inter-American Dialogue, Juan Diego López Rodríguez (GSE’17) had his hands full this summer. “The Organization of American States hired the Education Division of the Dialogue to draft a manual of sound practices to enhance education quality and equity in the region.” In charge of primary education, Juan Diego has spent his time finding policies, programs, and initiatives effective in increasing education quality and opportunity for students. He’s also spent his time going to events, jogging on the National Mall, reading in restaurants, and taking in all that life at a think tank has to offer. We discuss that and more in his profile.
What areas of public policy interest you?
Education, social policy, and international relations.
What does a typical day in DC look like for you?
I’m fortunate to live close to the Dialogue so I can benefit from the extra minutes of sleep that I gain for having a short commute. The work day starts at 9:00am. On Mondays we have a staff meeting, where we talk about what events are coming up and summarize the latest developments in the region—Venezuela has been coming up meeting after meeting! Since it is a close-knit community, it feels like we’re having a natural conversation at the office. This is one of the advantages of working at The Dialogue, that you make strong connections with everyone in the office. Michael Shifter, The Dialogue’s president, passes by my desk most of the days, exchanges a few words with me and always asks me if I am working hard! The rest of the days, I start by looking through my schedule, see if I have any meetings or events I want to attend. For instance, my first week at The Dialogue we hosted the President of Panama. Since then, we’ve had events on Venezuela, the peace process in Colombia, Mexico and U.S relations, and Energy in Latin America. I’ve also been to events at other institutions. After planning my schedule for the day, I catch up on the news, read the Latin American Advisor, which is a publication by The Dialogue with news from the region. I do this for about an hour and then I start working on the project that I’ve been assigned. At some point in the day I check-in with the director of the Education Division, and the two associates to hear feedback on the policies for the chapter I am writing. There might be times when I translate texts, work on my blog post for PPI or The Dialogue, and do data-hunting. After work, I exercise at the gym in the Dialogue’s building or jog on the Mall. Then, if I feel that I have the energy, I’ll cook myself dinner, but if I don’t, I either order in or go out. I actually enjoy going out to dinner because I can take a book, and usually stay at the place for longer just reading. Around 8 or 9pm, I come back to my house, relax, and start to get ready for bed.
Have there been any surprises regarding living and working as an intern in DC?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how willing people are to help you. I found that everyone at The Dialogue, and in other organizations, is always trying to guide you, to give you advice, to connect you with people. I think that I’ve been surprised by the culture of assistance in DC.
Name one object that you brought with you to DC that reflects your personality.
I am a big Star Wars fan, so I brought my Yoda action figure with me. It’s on my desk in my room. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of the quote, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda has been rooting for me since I arrived in DC!
In 30 years, what will you remember about living and working in DC?
On the humorous side, I would say how hot and humid the summers are. On a serious note, the PPI dinner with donors. Senator Bennett’s talk was great. The questions were insightful, and it was good to connect with the rest of the PPI interns and hear about their experiences. In addition, I’ll remember jogging on the Mall after work. I park my bike, and then go up all the way to the Capitol and down the hill to the Washington monument. Every time I’m running towards the monument I think to myself, “Woah, this is cool, I’m in D.C.!”