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Introducing the GCI Fellows 2019!

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

We are thrilled to introduce you to the GCI Fellows 2019! 

In just a couple of weeks, 28 Fellows from all sectors of society and all corners of the globe will start their GCI Fellowship by gathering at the GCI Summit 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. All 28 will become part of our global community where individuals embrace their unique colorful stories and cultures as they design and implement local solutions to global issues that transcend social, economic and political boundaries.

This year's cohort represents 26 different cultural heritages, speaks 24 languages and studies at 22 schools in 12 countries! And 75% of them are on needs-based financial aid to take part in the GCI Fellowship.

Continue reading to learn more about each Fellow and their stories.



School: Wellington College

Home Countries: Italy, United Kingdom

“Family is a vital part of who I am a today; my mother from Colombian origins has influenced my values and character in a multitude of different ways. Initially she taught me to hold my morals sincerely close to my heart, always being lovingly kind and true to myself. This is something I believe very strongly in, seeing as our modern day society normally influences the younger generation to divert from being one’s true self. My father, on the other hand, is my idol, his constant dedication to work and aspirational and hardworking mindset has consistently pushed me to work harder on a daily basis. My father’s Italian origins has given me endless opportunities to communicate with a variety of different people. Finally, my brother, a true pillar in my family, has influenced my patience and has injected a confidence in me to speak up and do the things that I love.”


School: Westminster School

Home Country: Iran

“I was raised in a family of six: maternal grandparents, two aunties, and my mum. I was admittedly closest to my grandpa, who has always been my best friend. My best childhood memories are when I went on exciting adventures with him. He taught me the importance of remaining calm in difficult situations and being the adult in the room which I have kept in mind in every difficult situation that I have been since then. My grandpa lives in Iran and my mum and I have lived in the UK since I was 9. Due to some unfortunate geopolitical circumstances, I have not seen my grandpa in 5 years, though I FaceTime him every night and discuss the day’s events with him. I am not sure when I will see him again, but I am sure that I will never stop learning from him.”


School: The American School in Japan

Home Countries: Japan, United States

“My family has impacted how I conduct leadership roles. My parents come from two very distinct cultures; my father is Jewish-American and my mother is Japanese. Because of this, both sides of my family have different life experiences and values. Instead of shying away from each other because of this, they have actively embraced and celebrated the others’ culture. Seeing the way in which different viewpoints and backgrounds enriched both sides of my family has taught me the importance of including a diverse set of perspectives as a leader in my school service clubs; rather than finding multiple perspectives threatening, I find them a source of strength and valuable insight.”


School: The Graded School

Home Country: United States

“From having a wild toddler-hood in Africa to a well-educated childhood in China to middle school in the Middle East and now high school in Brazil, I’ve lived each stage of my life around the world. As I started high school, however, there was a big part of me that was unsure about who I was. Where was I from? What did it mean about who I was if I didn’t have a home? Partway through my sophomore year, I realized that my identity is more rooted in the people in my life than in the places I’ve lived. My family has been the one thing that has remained absolutely consistent during times of change and crisis, and they have been what’s shaped me into who I am. They have taught me to be strong in my beliefs.”


School: Hisar Foundation Schools

Home Countries: Turkey, United States

"My grandparents from maternal side are the Kipchaks, which is a Turkish nomadic group that have lived through Russians, Balkans and Georgia, and migrated to Turkey almost a century ago. My paternal grandparents migrated to Turkey from Bosnia and both cultures have affected me throughout my childhood. Migrating and attuning to different cultures has been a reality in my family and has taught me how to humanely connect people from diverse backgrounds through rich cross-cultural dialogues. They have also taught me the value of sharing knowledge. Sharing knowledge is also very crucial in a developing country like Turkey to elevate the quality of life and eliminate biases and dictatorial ideas and practices. Coming from a multicultural background, I have developed an appreciation for collective work. Sharing resources and working collectively at a goal creates wonders much beyond expectations."


School: Tagore International School

Home Country: India

"As the only child, my parents have been my sole support system, the people who I look up to for help and advice. My parents have taught me to be just in my decisions and honest to myself. They have also taught me to be considerate and envision myself in the other person’s shoes. I feel this is a great quality to possess in order to be empathetic. It is this quality of valuing truth and equality that has made me passionate about righting social injustices and helping to create positive change however possible. One of the most precious lessons that I have learnt from my parents is to always feel comfortable in my own skin. They have taught me that adopting western styles blindly does not signify development, and have instead taught me to merge the best of both worlds."


School: King's Academy

Home Countries: Jordan, Ukraine

"Although I come from a small family, every member successfully ingrained a quality in me that defines who I am today. Starting with my father, he taught me to always have integrity. I remember him telling me when I was young that being honest with myself would make me reach the highest peaks in my life, whether it for establishing relationships or for work. From my mother, I learned commitment and passion. My mother set me out into a journey of self discovery and helped me realize that what I aspire to do, which is to make a positive impact in my society. From my younger brother I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and get creative. With him, I learned how to turn my ideas and thoughts into a craft or a story. My family’s values consulate around being the best version of yourself."


School: UWC Mahindra in India

Home Country: Vietnam

"I have quite an eccentric family - two elder brothers, one from France and one from India. Without our parents, we learned how to emotionally support each other. My French brother is a great idealist. Calm, joyful, and romantic – like mother nature that he respects so much. We always talk about human nature, philosophy, and the environment.. Many of these are abstract concepts, but they add so much value to my personal being than many years of schools and notebooks. My Indian brother, however, is more practical. I aspire to think critically and innovatively like he does. It keeps me going every day, knowing that: I should not be afraid of dying, but I should be afraid of dying without acquiring enough knowledge of this spectacular world. Thanks to my brothers, I find my middle ground in the extremes of idealism and pragmatism: Curiosity."


School: Bourguiba Pioneer School

Home Country: Tunisia

"Since I was young, I loved spending time with my family. I enjoyed all the deep and constructive conversations we have. I was lucky for always being supported by my parents. In fact, the way they made sure to communicate to me how much they believed in me made me grow into this person who believes that nothing is out of reach if I want it enough. Fortunately, they aren't overprotective; they let me take initiatives by myself which taught me how to be responsible. They taught me by the sacrifices they make not to take anything for granted and that if I really want something I have to work hard to get it. My family has always believed in me, which challenges me to always strive to improve. That's why I can never thank them enough because without them, I couldn't have become who I am today."


School: Tokyo Gakugei University International Secondary School

Home Countries: Japan, South Korea

"My family broke two very traditional stereotypes of the roles of men and women; my Mom was the breadwinner of the family, and my Dad was the “house dad” (or so I like to call it) who took care of the housework. My Dad didn’t mind the fact that he was the only dad in school events, nor did my Mom seem too bothered that she wasn’t fulfilling the conventional role of being a house mom. This special environment my parents created has shaped me greatly. I felt the need to question and challenge various concepts or traditions that shape the world around us. They fostered the value of equality, and the belief of whatever men can do, women can do too. But most importantly, they raised me to not always conform to conventional rules, especially when there is a need for change. "

Karina Brunella

School: UWC ISAK Japan

Home Country: Peru

"My parents are immigrants from the rural areas of our country; none of them were able to attend university, and both of them had to start working at a young age. Seeing the sacrifices they made for me and for my sister as we were growing up (abandoning better work opportunities in order to take care of us, staying without food when there was not enough for all of us, volunteering to help others within their tight work schedules) made me aware of the duties I have toward both others and the ideals I hold. My actions need to be coherent with my beliefs: after all, it does not matter what I believe in if I don’t act according to it."


School: The American School in Japan

Home Countries: Japan, United States

"I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan until the age of 10 years old. We moved to United States when I was in 4th grade and I attended US public schools until the middle of 10th grade of high school when we moved back to Tokyo. I am now in 11th grade at The American School in Japan. My father is first generation American. His father was raised in Singapore and his mother was born and raised in the Philippines. My mother was born and raised in a small town in Japan and my grandparents still live there today. In Japan, the term for mixed-race is “hafu” which comes from the English word, “half”, and is sometimes thought of in a negative way. I am proud to be “mixed” and I think I am much more accepting of different cultures, different languages because of my “mixed” family and the way I was brought up. "


School: Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School

Home Country: United States

"My family has traditional values they inherited from their parents, who live in El Salvador. My grandparents’ strictness towards my parents was eventually passed down to me. This continues to influence me to start becoming more of an independent young man with a mature mindset. Growing up in a strict family in a low-income area, my parents never give me what I truly desire. They do this for two reasons; one because we are a low-income family and two, they believe that a child who does not struggle will not appreciate the small blessings that life hands us. This became my go-to motto that engendered my life with motivation and inspiration. I am proud to say that my family is paving a pathway that will allow me to soon look back and see my young relatives follow my footsteps."


School: Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School

Home Countries: Mexico, United States