From Internship to Impact-From Internship to Impact-Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
08 January, 2024

From Internship to Impact

From Internship to Impact-From Internship to Impact-dianaarticlejan24
A Year 11 Student's GIS Adventure in Conservation
Meet Diana Vasile, a dynamic Year 11 student whose educational journey transcends the conventional boundaries of textbooks and classrooms. Introduced to the captivating world of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) during a week of work experience in Year 10, Diana's exploration was ignited by the guidance of Ms. Juett, Assistant Head of Secondary, and the encouragement of Dr. Haïfa Ben-Romdhane, a Professor in Environmental Engineering and Geomatics at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. This encounter blossomed into a further remarkable four-month project, culminating in the creation of a compelling StoryMap that intricately weaves together environmental narratives using GIS technology. 

Inspired by her initial success with "The Amazon Rainforest - SDGs in Action," Diana's journey took an unexpected turn when Dr. Haïfa Ben-Romdhane proposed her to join the collaboration with the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). Little did she know, this collaboration not only became a testament to her dedication and proficiency, but also an entry into the prestigious 2023 ArcGIS*StoryMaps Competition. Join us as we delve into Diana's transformative experiences, where passion, technology, and environmental advocacy converge in a narrative that goes beyond the ordinary.

* What is ArcGIS? ArcGIS is a geospatial software for viewing, editing, managing and analysing geographic data.  The software suite allows you to create maps, perform spatial analysis and manage data. The focus for ArcGIS is on location intelligence and analytics.

My adventure in GIS

I'm Diana, a Year 11 student, and I want to express my gratitude to Ms. Juett for connecting me with Dr. Haïfa Ben-Romdhane, a Professor in Environmental Engineering and Geomatics at Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Dr. Ben-Romdhane offered me the chance to do my week of work experience on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), last June 2023. As a student of Geography and Computer Science, this was a fantastic opportunity. Dr. Haïfa Ben-Romdhane facilitated my entire internship, from settling in, to the daily activities utilising GIS.

ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition

After creating my own StoryMap on the Amazon Rainforest (an open project which I had decided I would link to the Climate lessons in the IGCSE curriculum), Dr. Ben-Romdhane suggested collaborating with the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) to showcase their conservation efforts through ArcGIS, utilising geographical data to effectively convey their endeavours in sustainable conservation practices. This coincided with the ArcGIS 2023 StoryMap Competition, so the team and I decided to submit it under the "A story about an Indigenous or locally led project" track.


Collaborating with DDCR and Sorbonne University, I worked on the project for a period of four months (June- October), gaining hands-on experience with GIS and learning from experts in the field. The experience taught me teamwork, meeting deadlines, handling spatial data, and creating an engaging StoryMap structure. Despite challenges in map creation, the team's support led to a successful project.

Personal Growth

While I have encountered specific processes in class (e.g. teamwork, infographic designing, text editing), the internship provided real-world insights into wildlife distribution patterns and sustainable management intricacies. The constant refining and updating of the StoryMap, based on client feedback, showcased the challenges and growth in a professional setting. I believe the main challenge and hence aspect that brought forth most growth and development has been to create and fine-tune the maps embedded on the website. To view her map, visit:

What message would you like to share with your fellow students and readers?

Apart from now forming one of my highlights of Year 10, work experience has given me an opportunity to explore possible career options and comprehend the application of school-taught skills and subjects to the real world. I believe it is an incredible opportunity all students should grasp! Theory can only take you so far. Work experience is essential!

In partnership with the DDCR

Basil Roy, conservation officer at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) expresses his appreciation on Diana’s work: “I am thoroughly impressed with Diana's outstanding project for the 2023 ArcGIS StoryMaps Competition. Diana created a captivating DDCR GIS StoryMap, incorporating satellite imagery, audio-visual content, and field data to showcase the reserve's conservation initiatives and biodiversity. Her contribution greatly enhances public awareness, and we are now featuring Diana's StoryMap at the DDCR Visitor Center and on our website. We look forward to visiting BIS Abu Dhabi in the new year to engage with your students, showcase, and discuss this inspiring project, fostering a spirit of positive change for the future.”

Victoria Juett, Assistant Head Teacher, remarks: “Diana's impact extends beyond personal success; she is making a tangible difference to the UAE's country and culture. We proudly celebrate her successes as a beacon of inspiration for future students.

Furthermore, as a direct result of Diana's internship and in alignment with the school's ambition to embed sustainable education, plans are underway to incorporate the teaching of technical skills using ArcGIS into the KS3 curriculum. Diana will play a pivotal role in supporting this initiative, leaving a legacy for generations to come. Join us in recognising Diana's remarkable journey and the positive impact she continues to make on both the educational landscape and the environment of the UAE.”

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