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Announcing the GCI Fellows 2018!

Updated: Jul 24, 2018

We are thrilled to introduce you to the GCI Fellows 2018! 

In just a couple of weeks, the 28 Fellows from all sectors of society and all corners of the globe will start their GCI Fellowship by gathering at the Global Citizens Youth Summit 2018. All 28 will become part of our global community where individuals embrace their unique colorful stories and cultures as they design and implement solutions to global issues that transcend social, economic and political boundaries.

This year's cohort represents 22 different cultural heritages, speaks 27 languages, and studies in 24 schools in 11 countries! And over half of them are on needs-based financial aid to take part in the GCI Fellowship.



 

Abby

School: Westminster School

Home Country: United Kingdom


"My family has taught me that absolutely anything is possible as long as you work hard. My father moved to the UK from Sri Lanka when he was only 18 years old to escape from the war and my mother did the same soon after. My parents knew only very basic English and had no money. My dad had never stepped outside of his village community in Sri Lanka. My parents couldn’t afford a university education, but immediately worked hard to make money from a small corner shop. They lived together in a small box room just above the shop, where my sister was born… My parents worked 24/7 and never took a break. I have learned that there will always be hardships you must suffer and challenges you must face, but if you work hard, there will also be success. My parents started from nothing and their story has inspired me to have grit and strength of character."



Adya

School: The Cathedral and John Connon School

Home Country: India


"My mother had a tough childhood where her mother left her and her siblings when she was only nine. Being the oldest sibling, she was handed a lot of responsibility at a young age. She has taught me gratitude... forgiveness and not to hold grudges against others. My father was handed the company at the tender age of 17. He has taught me the values of responsibility and accountability and to never take things for granted. My grandmother volunteers and teaches English to underprivileged children in a girl’s convent. She would regularly take me there to play with the children and it was here that I decided that I, too, would love to make a small difference in their lives. My family has played a fundamental role in nurturing and molding me into who I am today. My character is a reflection of all the values they have instilled in me."



Alexander "Alex"

School: King School

Home Country: United States


"I have lived a truly multi-cultural existence, as my mother is from Venezuela and my father was born in Chicago. Most of my extended family on my mother's side still resides in Venezuela… My family has ingrained in me a passion for studying international issues and appreciating other cultural ideas. My parents have also taught me the importance of honesty, respect and integrity… My mother has served on numerous boards and spent her earlier career trying to establish the rule of law in Latin America. My father has created important initiatives for the disabled community. I have tried to follow their example. I formed Caritas for the Levant at the age of 12 to foster an understanding of the plight of religious, ethnic and LGBTQ minorities in the Middle East before ISIS' atrocities became front page news. In high school, I have turned my attention to the Hispanic community and diversity issues, forming El Foro Hispano, serving on diversity leadership councils in my school and as a junior member of the Center for Prevention Services to help at risk Hispanic teens."



Alexandra "Alex"

School: Wellington College

Home Country: United Kingdom

"Being loud. Not in the sense that they are noisy and annoying, but in the sense that they are very clear and forthcoming. If there is an issue, it isn't avoided around the dinner table just because it may start a disagreement; debates are encouraged and our conversations thrive through our differences of opinion. Bringing up issues to the table helps solve them faster and has taught me to keep an open mind to other takes on any given topic. This aspect of my family life has influenced my values and characteristics and allowed me to be more vocal with my opinions. When I am with my friends, we often discuss politics at great length and I believe that it is no coincidence that most of my friends are in the debating society at school along with me."



Alqaim

School: Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa

Home Country: Tanzania


"I come from a household where my parents could hardly agree upon anything: my father is a progressive thinker and identifies as agnostic, whereas my mother’s beliefs are heavily borrowed from her conservative Islamic beliefs. The two diverse parenting styles that they exhibited gave me the room to form my own opinions on matters such as religion, politics and ethics. One common value that both my parents shared, however, was the importance of using education to better my community and lead a life of service. This has helped me foster a sense of civic responsibility and driven me to engage in service-related pursuits. Another way in which my family has influenced me is through teaching me never to succumb to peer pressure and always remain focused on my aspirations."



Anas

School: International Academy, Amman

Home Country: Jordan


"Despite growing up in several foreign countries, I was taught to maintain my mother-tongue, Arabic, as my parents believed it to be the basis of my identity, despite the confusion it inflicted on me while living in Australia. This created loyalty towards my customs and traditions regardless of the distance between me and my country… My mother has taught me perseverance and strength. An example of this is my transfer to a new school where, at first, I felt out of place and my grades were suffering. My mother sat with me every day to tell me she believes in my success. If not for my mother and values of endurance, I would never have been able to be who I am today. This does not mean that I blindly obey whichever values I have been taught. I evaluate them and decide whether to apply them to my life or not. For example, kindness, endurance and gratefulness are all parts of my character passed on to me that I continuously stand by."



Andy

School: Valhalla High School

Home Country: United States


"My parents sacrificed so much by coming to the United States. My parents brought my sisters and I to the United States for one reason only: to have the freedom to live as an Iraqi and become an American citizen. Due to the war in Iraq, my parents were forced to evacuate out of the country... My dad left behind his successful jewelry shop and my mom was a straight A student with a goal of a professional career. My parents’ religious values and culture have been a great asset to me. They taught me that the belief in God can give me moral strength and guidance in time of stress... For instance, some people have yelled at us, made fun of us and discriminated against us for who we are and where we come from, but my parents have told me that not all Americans are like these few. We have been welcomed by most residents and our church."




Birk

School: Ethical Culture Fieldston School

Home Country: United States

"At seven years old, I knew more funeral vocabulary and etiquette than your average adult. It was my uncle’s home, a fourth-generation business that he inherited from my grandfather. Steeped in Polish tradition, the house always represented my family’s place in the community… He was the fun uncle, the one who didn’t have kids and always had time to play soccer. As far as I was concerned, he lived the dream. Everywhere we walked in the small town of Northampton, Jay knew someone. He taught me the meaning of a real family business. He showed me the value in sticking to your roots and building trust in a community. As I re-arranged flowers and filled bowls of mints at the funeral home, I learned from my uncle. He taught me to tie my tie, give firm handshakes and express my condolences to every family that walked through the door. Night after night, Jay was professional and strong in the face of adversity and sadness. He showed me that a humble, respectful reputation will carry you a long way."



Diane

School: African Leadership Academy

Home Country: Kenya

"I am fortunate to come from a family where sacrifice is a principle that is highly upheld. My parents have spent several resources, were focused on investing in my future and encouraging my betterment. My family saw the possibilities of an influencer with the aim to seek justice and someone with the capacity to implement constructive change. They have supported my endeavors of finding where I can make a positive impact, be it in supporting me in music or motivating me when I pursue science… Additionally, honesty is a more challenging aspect in my family that has truly built me. It is painful to hear difficult truths, yet my family recognizes that truth is the only means to improve yourself properly. My appreciation for honesty, however challenging, is based on knowledge that this is the pathway for improvement. Finally, I often have a manner of questioning and challenging concepts. My family has not only tolerated this, but also engaged with me in these conversations as opposed to ending them."



Eita

School: Tenafly High School

Home Country: United States

"Never limit yourself. This is the philosophy that has created all the successes in my life. My parents have taught me this in their respective ways... Throughout all the years, I noticed that, just like my mother, my open-mindedness shows in my demeanor, which attracts people. I am not necessarily outgoing, but people naturally come to me and when they do I am able to adjust to them. This is because I can observe and analyze people and accommodate myself in their interest. My father taught me that with hard work and a strong desire, there are no limits and he is the epitome of this idea; from nothing to something, my father hustled from a remote and tiny town in Japan to prospering in the busiest city in great America. Despite his success, he continues to work diligently and never shows complacency. My father is my role model and what I respect even more is his humbleness; he has never boasted of his accolades or successes."



Elizabeth

School: Phillips Exeter Academy

Home Country: United States


"My family has had the biggest impact on who I turned out to be. Being the youngest and growing up around so many different people has been so valuable. My older sister and father are two of the most assertive and powerful people I know. They know what they want and get it because they believe in themselves more than anyone else could. I draw from their strength everyday when I need to and have learned how to stand up for myself and be assertive. My mother is quite the opposite. She is soft-spoken and will kill anyone with kindness the moment she meets them… My older brother is very charismatic and leaves a lasting impression on anyone he meets. He can make a crowd laugh up a storm or leave them on the tips of their toes with a story he tells. From him, I learned to enter every room and meet every person with a big smile, even if I don't feel the same inside, and about the importance of human connection."



Emiri "Emily"

School: Shibuya Kyouiku Gakuen Shibuya High School

Home Country: Japan