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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

"My parents provided me with opportunities to interact with people of various nationalities, cultures and religions, through travelling as well as the experience of living in Singapore for four years. These experiences guided me to realize how fortunate and privileged I was to be living a fulfilling life in a first world country. They constantly reminded me to take risks and welcome challenges, even if I felt it beyond my abilities. They accepted my failures as steps to success and provided me with short-term feedback on success, which fueled my motivation and assured me that as long as I have the will to keep on trying, there will always be some kind of reward. These together shaped my values to appreciate the environment I was granted and to never forget that I stand where I am with the support of many people. My experiences of success would not have been a reality without the opportunity I was granted and the support I received from the people around me."



Jae

School: Drew School

Home Country: United States

"I grew up hearing stories of my grandparents’ wild adventures of getting lost in an Argentinian forest, as well as my father’s experiences of hearing landmines explode in the middle of the night when he spent time working in refugee camps on the border of Thailand and Cambodia. Although these stories were thrilling to hear as a child, I have recently been inspired by how much personal growth these experiences cultivated. Listening to their stories, I came to recognize the importance of actively seeking out opportunities to broaden one’s global perspective, whether that be through international travel, or simply having a conversation with someone you have never spoken to before. Additionally, growing up with my older brother has helped me to develop a sense of awareness to the importance of listening. After years of excessively debating, it was not until the moment when we both decided to truly listen, not solely use our ears to hear one another, that we gained a better understanding of each other."



Khue "Vicky"

School: St. Gilgen International Academy

Home Country: Vietnam

"Two days after my second birthday, my father lost the battle with bone cancer and spoke his last words to me: “Live a life of courage and modesty.” My childhood was filled with stories of my father’s fearless heroic life as a sports journalist, a chief editor of a newspaper, a master of martial art, a trainer, a coach and a father figure for martial arts schools in Vietnam, of the remarkable life he lived and of the astounding lives he inspired. I was brought up in what seems to be the smallest family, yet I have always been surrounded by an enormous supportive group of family friends. My mother, who has the most loving and earnest heart of all, has spent her life dedicated to making a change in the world, really believing in the power of mankind to create a better world for future generations. Life may push me through all hazards and pain, but I know my mother will always be there as my mental support. I learned from her the values of respect, appreciation, tolerance and optimism."



Louis

School: African Leadership Academy

Home Country: Nigeria

"For fourteen years, I was the only child of my parents and, as such, I spent a lot of time with them. All eyes were always on me and, after a while, it occurred to me why they seemed to be so strict and overprotective of me. The answer is simple; they needed me to be the best person I could be as I was all they had. My parents were able to send me to a high-end school and I knew the sacrifices that...went into that venture and I knew that I could not fail myself. That failure would have been extended to my family, my parents, my teachers and all who had believed in me. As a result of this, I made a careful effort to be the best person that I could be… I have tried my best to make sure that I am able to be honest, transparent and accountable in any activity that I choose to venture into or any position that I assume."



Maile

School: Taft School

Home Country: United States

"My hometown of Waimea is a small ranching town of about 9,000. As one of the most isolated places in the world, people often don’t have access to some basic necessities. Access to health care is one of the largest problems on the Big Island. We have a shortage of doctors and it is very difficult to find specialty doctors like oncologists. Because more than half of the island is rural and real estate is especially expensive, many doctors don’t get reimbursed by the government in the same way as in large hospitals in cities. The lower reimbursement combined with the high cost of living makes it extremely difficult for a small community to attract and hold qualified doctors. Access to health care and affordable housing are two serious public issues in our community."



Maria Vitoria "Vicky"

School: Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro

Home Country: Brazil

"From a young age, my parents made sure we traveled as much as possible to gain exposure to other countries and its peoples… which made me more curious and interested to study our different cultures. I grew to understand that there's always something new to learn. This realization instilled in me a thirst for knowledge. My parents helped me satiate this thirst by always giving me the resources to explore it. Every year, my extended family gets together for the Christmas holidays. These holiday get-togethers are an opportunity for my family to share with each other what we've learned throughout the year and update the others about our lives. From my relatives, I've consumed an infinite amount of knowledge. From different parts of the world, they brought me stories of how they have used their wisdom to better their lives and that of others. This has made me more eager to serve, encouraging me to explore what I knew and what I could do for my communities."



Milgo

School: The Hotchkiss School

Home Country: Somalia

"My parents have taught me, through example, the value of hard work, unwavering drive, initiative and hope. Although my parents are from the same city in Somaliland, they come from opposite backgrounds. Despite the many trials and adversities that were prominent at the time or still exist as obstacles to today’s youth, they both had the opportunity to attend school... create goals and dreams. But when the first major civil war erupted, it triggered two things in my parents: immense fear and the desire for a better life. They both fled their homes and sought asylum in the States. Through their untiring effort combined with the support and cooperation of other Somali youth communities in America, my parents completed their schooling, supported their families as they established careers and managed to find each other in the process. They were constantly guided by the same core principle and goal: seeking education to strive for the progress of their people and country."



Nga Laam "Vivian"

School: Diocesan Girls School

Home Country: Hong Kong

"My mother and father grew up in a poor family and they have escaped poverty through their persistence and hard work. They have taught me to be brave in facing obstacles in life because as long as I do not give up, there are always solutions to problems. They constantly remind me to stay optimistic about the future even when I am going through hardships and stress. They have made me a stronger person who would never give up until problems are solved. I have a sister who is a year younger than me. As her bigger sister, I have the responsibility to take care of her and offer help to her. I have become an empathetic and understanding person who is willing to not only assist my family members, but also all other people in the community who are in need. I have also become more self-aware as a role model for my younger sister. This makes me a good leader who is caring and behaving well."



Osama

School: El Cajon Valley High School

Home Country: United States

"Growing up in my family, I was taught that education was important as well as helping others when they are in need. Due to the war, my parents were forced to evacuate their home country in order to provide a safe environment for our family. My parents were both college graduates and had very successful jobs. Moving to America was a huge sacrifice for them but they knew this would provide much better opportunities for my brothers and me. Since my family sacrificed so much, the principle way I can show appreciation is by following their example and representing them in a positive way. Even though I am not super religious, I do participate in some social activities at our local mosque. This has given me an appreciation for my parent’s religious beliefs and culture."



Pratika

School: The Cathedral and John Connon School

Home Country: India

"I have always believed that a person’s family is the greatest influence in their life. If we are taught to believe certain stereotypes, or we observe our parents exhibiting certain behaviors, we begin to emulate those beliefs and actions ourselves. The first - and most important - thing my parents taught me was the value of respect. It was unacceptable to speak down to anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or gender. I was raised to not be blind to society’s inequalities, but to consciously work against them. My strongest influence was my grandfather. His passion and love for community service and making a difference to society has permeated to me. My sensitivity and caring nature towards people is reflective of this upbringing… Another cause he was extremely passionate about was organ donation – something that is a viewed as a taboo in Indian society. Observing him convince my family to register as an organ donor, I was inspired to create my own initiative that raises awareness of organ donation."



Rawad

School: King's Academy

Home Country: Jordan


"I was raised in a working-class family with both my mother and father working under the Ministry of Education. My father always insisted on the idea of "working hard now to live happily after.” Hence, my siblings and I were always working hard in school and it paid off at the end, where they are all successful. Both of my siblings are studying medicine, one is an architect and the other is a pharmacist. My father did the impossible to provide us the best he could to make us feel like any other people. The divorce of my father and mother made me tough and a man in a body of a child. The year of the divorce was the harshest year in my life from facing an economic crisis to feeling completely broken from the inside. However, life continues and as they say, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.”"



Sama

School: King's Academy

Home Country: Jordan

"My elder brother and I teach refugees research, leadership and thinking skills; I get to observe him speak powerfully and considerately. His dedication has taught me to always give my best effort and to respect whatever task I’m completing. I’ve learned from my younger brother to always ask questions, suggest innovative ideas and to find joy in the little things. It’s not difficult for me to trace the trait of dedication back to my parents, as they’re both such hard-working, devoted and benevolent characters. My father encourages us to be ambitious, well-rounded and practical… Resilience, courage and generosity are a few of the characteristics my mother has taught us. She has ingrained in us a deep sense of value for time, which is why I’ve developed an aversion to idleness."



Shelzy

School: Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School

Home Country: United States


"My family is a group of hardworking individuals; they have accomplished many goals and have always cared for one another… I was taught to go after my dreams, no matter how hard it would be to get there… I’ve always been determined to be the best student I could be and thus far, I have been; my school work is my main priority. My father is a perfect example to explain why I have become a hardworking person. His working long hours for over 15 years with very little vacation time has pushed me to do what I have to do in school, so that I can become successful and give back to those in need. However, I know that I shouldn't overwork myself, my grandmother taught me that even when I am working hard, it’s important to take time for self-care so that I can stay mentally and physically healthy and happy too."



Skylar

School: Ravenscroft

Home Country: United States

"My family has greatly impacted my values and character. I have been raised in a diverse community where many recognize the achievement that is diversity and cultural inclusivity. My parents are accepting of all cultures and people, as well as different sexual orientations. Neither of my parents have forced their beliefs onto me, allowing me to foster my own ideas... As these ideas have formed, I have had many opportunities to gain more knowledge about other cultures and these opportunities have contributed to my view of other cultures in a positive way. I wholeheartedly believe that in order to achieve change, there needs to be cooperation between cultures and different types of people in order to get a wide range of ideas and be able to implement actions that lead to change. My family has encouraged me to foster these ideas and accepted them without question or second thought."



Tanner

School: Kamehameha Kapalama

Home Country: United States

"My family has been a huge part in who I am today and I would not be in this position without them. I think the biggest value that I learned from my parents is commitment. As a little kid, I did different sports, such as soccer and basketball and loved playing both of those sports. However, sometimes I got really tired of going to practice and always wanted to ditch. That being the case, my mom never let me skip practice and would force me to go to practice. While I hated the fact that I had to go to practice, each time I went to practice I had a lot of fun. The commitment that I learned from my parents forcing me to go to practice has carried over into my school life and character. No matter how much I don't want to finish my homework or go clean the yard, I understand that these tasks are my responsibility and I always try and finish through."



Tsetsen

School: Orchlon International School

Home Country: Mongolia

"My parents grew up in a socialist state and lived modest lives. However, they always told themselves that they weren’t going to stay comfortable with the norm. Within them grew a fiery ambition to achieve more and break through the status quo… They finally saved enough for a one-way plane ticket to a different life, a better life. They moved to Australia, with nothing but their passions and thirst for knowledge and, in six months, they learned the language, bought an apartment and had stabilized themselves economically. Hearing their stories of self-improvement and dedication has taught me to never become complacent with what I have and to always strive for greatness. My ultimate dream is to keep improving myself till the day where I can give back even a small amount to the two people that gave me an infinite amount of love and support."



Zaid

School: King's Academy

Home Country: Jordan

"Since I was a child, my family sought to prepare me for the outer world by teaching me responsibility, self-reliance and wise decision-making. Being the oldest son of a Bedouin father has influenced me to become more responsible and independent. Since I was 4 years old, my father perceived me as the house’s second man. He kept telling me, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” When I finished my first-year at King’s Academy, I realized that my humble school tuition was a burden on my family since I had two sisters in college… So, I got a summer job in one of the far hotels to my house... I started to work every summer vacation. Making me have such an experience did not only benefit me financially, but it also made me realize that sometimes I should step up, make the wisest decision and rely on myself to succeed in all life situations."



Thank you for your continued support. We are so excited to share these new GCI Fellows' journeys as global citizens with you!

ABOUT US
 

Global Citizens Initiative, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit social enterprise registered in Connecticut, United States. We empower young global citizens from all sectors of society to be lifelong leaders of positive change. EIN 46-1850022.

 

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