Jonathan portrait
Jonathan Lahdo Dubai, United Arab Emirates The Huntsman Program In International Studies and Business
Arts and Culture

Students admitted into the Huntsman Program choose a target language to build fluency and increase their familiarity with the regions in which the language is spoken. Jonathan studies Arabic, a language he initially learned at home and later during high school in the United Arab Emirates. However, Jonathan’s fascination for language does not stop there; he also studies French and Persian at Penn.

Jonathan’s classes encourage him to approach language holistically. In Professor Melanie Peron’s memorable class, French 226: French History and Culture, Jonathan studied French history while practicing French with his professor and peers. Moreover, Jonathan’s Arabic classes help him master formal written Arabic, which differs from spoken Arabic, by analyzing Arabic literature and media.

Global Engagement

Jonathan studied abroad in Lebanon at the American University of Beirut. With the help of the Huntsman Program, Jonathan personalized his experience abroad. Jonathan, who is half Lebanese, was able to explore his identity and heritage by taking classes for native Arabic speakers while other international students pursue English language instruction at the American University of Beirut. The ability to speak Arabic regularly and to hold academic discussions in Arabic was unparalleled.

Jonathan’s global interests also extend to his extracurricular activities on campus. As the Co-Vice President of Professional Committee for the Wharton Asia Exchange, Jonathan and his peers bridge the gap between the Penn community and Asia. The club hosts a week-long series of events called Asia Spotlight Week in addition to professional events and social activities throughout the year. 

Political and Social Advocacy

Jonathan’s profound commitment to advocacy and service is reflected in his work for PURE: Penn Undergraduates for Refugee Empowerment. PURE supports many initiatives on and off campus, including tutoring Philadelphia-area refugees, implementing human rights awareness campaigns, and working alongside Penn Law’s human rights and immigration clinic, the Transnational Legal Clinic. Through his work with PURE, Jonathan acts as a translator and interpreter for the law school, helping with many pro bono cases. Jonathan’s work is varied and meaningful. His experiences include translating affidavits and interpreting for imprisoned refugees.

Moreover, Jonathan collaborates with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture to promote the richness of Arab culture and language. To celebrate Arab culture in the greater Philadelphia area, Jonathan worked with Al-Bustan and PURE on a music festival for Syrian refugees. The event featured Syrian musicians and meaningful discussions on the concerns and challenges that Syrian refugees face in the United States.


The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business combines high-level study of business and language, which is the perfect fit for Jonathan. With an international background, including Syrian and Lebanese heritage as well as an Australian citizenship and high school in the UAE, Jonathan embraces the Program’s global mindset. Moreover, Jonathan has a long-standing interest in language and business. In high school, Jonathan served on the business side of the Formula One in Schools project. Ultimately, his team’s race car went to the World Finals, where they worked with a high school from Ireland to win the best international collaboration award.

Jonathan is majoring in international studies in the College and simultaneously pursuing a concentration, in which he is leaning towards management, in the Wharton School. Jonathan’s interest in management is encouraged by Wharton’s Andrew Carton and Samir Numohamed, both Assistant Professors of Management, who strive to mentor their students personally while teaching classes that stand out for their depth of knowledge and attention to quantitative and qualitative aspects of management.

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