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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

"When I was in 9th grade, I organized a trip for students at my school to participate in the LA Women’s March. I was surprised that some other students did not agree with the idea of the Women’s March. At that same time, my English teacher assigned a project to research our family history. In speaking with my uncle, I came to find out that my great grandmother Estanislada Corrales was an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement in Mexico. It validated my choice to organize a trip to the Women’s March. My parents have also taught me the important lesson of always standing up for myself. Both of my parents grew up outside of the US and have a hard time speaking English. However, this does not stop them from standing up for themselves."


School: Hiroo Gakuen Junior and Senior High School

Home Country: Japan

"The way my family has influenced me can be explained by how I define them, and that would be in one word: ‘frank.’ They are extremely genuine and honest to me about the way they feel and think- especially my mother, who treats everyone the same way and it is always with compassion. Through my relationship with my family, I learned that honesty is essential in creating a long-lasting and meaningful connection with someone. We are taught in society that in many situations, we are expected to suppress feelings of weakness and vulnerability. However, overtime I started to understand the importance of honesty and showing your true feelings, and that it is not a weakness to show you are vulnerable; rather, it helps us to build trust and strong relationships."


School: UWC ISAK Japan

Home Country: Canada

"I grew up on a small, isolated island with my mom and brother who are both autistic. I stand in awe of my mom, whose strength as a single parent has shown me the definition of resilience. My mom fought against health and financial issues to give the best life she could to my brother and I. Living alongside my brother while he struggled, I developed a strong sense of empathy. He is one of the most kind, compassionate, patient, and intelligent people I know. Intimately knowing the strengths and incredible potential of differently minded people has made me aware that society is often afraid of what it doesn’t understand. This has motivated me to contribute to making a positive impact on the world to become an open place that is able to accept everyone for who they are and enable them to flourish."


School: Westminster School

Home Countries: United Kingdom, United States

"My family has had a large influence on both my values and my character. My parents are both very liberal and forward-thinking, and I’m very grateful that I got to grow up in such an accepting environment. I feel as though these traits are reflected in my personality, and one of the things I most believe in is that everyone deserves equal rights, and that people should not be judged for things they cannot choose nor change. My grandfather inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone, and my aunt has always been pro-equality, and worked at an organization whose main goal was to achieve equal rights for LGBT+ people, and her open-minded attitude and unconditional love have helped to inspire me to be who I am today. All in all, my family has inspired my beliefs, values and character in a way that I am extremely happy about."


School: King School

Home Countries: United States, Japan

"My parents are happily married and I get along extremely well with my siblings, so I can say I was raised surrounded by love. This family dynamic is the main thing that affects me as a person. My mother and I have the textbook definition of a love/hate relationship. From her, I’ve learned that I can always be better. My father has had the greatest impact on my character and personality. This is because he’s my greatest role model and I strive to be as amazing as he is. He is extremely laid-back, independent-minded, hardworking, and sociable. I take my role as the oldest sibling extremely seriously. I think it’s important for me to be someone that they can look up to. They inspire me to be the best I can be so that I may be a positive role model to them in the way that my father is to me."


School: King's Academy

Home Country: Jordan

"It has always been my family's goal to raise me as an active part of my community, helping those who are in need, socializing and working with others regardless of their religion or race. Over time, I grew to learn the importance of generosity, modesty, manners and friendship from my father. My mother however, taught me kindness, and love. I have learned from my parents how to make my own decisions, differentiating between what is right and wrong, and most importantly look at things from different perspectives to understand them. The actions my parents involved me in since I was a child also helped form my morals and beliefs, my father and I always helped our relatives and people who are in need. All these things helped raise me into a good person, caring for the people around me and always grateful for what I have."


School: Colegio Nueva Granada

Home Countries: Colombia, United States

"My mother is a very honest, dedicated and persistent woman. She has worked and persevered through all obstacles and has taught me to do the same. This has shaped my character towards valuing honesty and putting in the effort to achieve my goals. My father has taught me to embrace my differences as well as others’ diversity because this is what makes you stand out and be unique. He has taught me to be self-aware and motivated in order to lead by example. My brother has taught me to stay true to my values and character, by also taking complete advantage of every situation and living life to its fullest. He has taught me that no matter what others’ experiences and decisions are, I should value independence and trust my judgment to find my own way because no two people are the same."


School: Phillips Exeter Academy

Home Countries: United States, Nigeria

"Having two younger brothers taught me about leadership and respect. A leader’s job is to organize their team and help them all reach a common goal, not push their own agenda. I used to order my brothers around and commanded respect by instilling fear. I thought my method was working for a while, but what would happen when they started growing up? I wouldn’t have power over them if they started towering over me. Confronted with these thoughts, I started noticing how my brothers interacted with my older sister. They never wanted to hang out with me, but they always played with her. She got them to respect her and have fun with her just by treating them as equals. That’s when I learnt that I could be respected, but that didn’t mean I was liked. I wanted to have fun with my brothers too, so I stopped abusing my power and started becoming their friend."


School: Boston Latin School

Home Countries: United States, Nigeria

"My parents were born and raised in Nigeria, and they have passed down the values of Nigerian culture to me. My Nigerian culture supplements the American culture I have grown up with; this realization came after learning how to balance the two completely different cultures. My Nigerian culture has taught me to respect my elders and their guidance. I have learned from my family that no should be left behind, and that my siblings and I need to support each other and always lend a helping hand. My family has instilled in me the value of humility and leaving a positive impact wherever I go by being kind to others and having a diligent work ethic. My family has shown me how true leadership begins by helping others and giving respect to everyone. Therefore, I aspire to be a selfless hardworking leader in my community."


School: The Cathedral and John Connon School

Home Country: India

"My open minded nature about religion and sexuality came from my parents who taught me that one can only appreciate life when they view it through an unfiltered and clean vizor. Acceptance was the key word in their teachings and I realise that in today’s world it is the one quality that society requires. My feeling of national pride was strengthened by [my grandparents]. Had it not been for my competitive and ambitious national ranked tennis playing cousin, my strive for greatness and love for competition and achievement would have been missing. I feel my strongest quality is my curiosity and my need to question everything laid before me. After all, knowledge is power, and no one taught me that better than my idol, the person in my family who inspired me to take a path towards greater understanding, my elder sister."


School: Rato Bangala School

Home Country: Nepal

"Growing up in a household that valued compassion and kindness above everything else, I am grateful that it conditioned me to be the best, most empathetic version of myself. As a little girl, I had many strong female role models. Growing up with so many inspiring women to look up to, I knew that I wanted to make my mark in the world, not by being famous, but by being kind. By always keeping others first and doing whatever I could to help those that needed it. I started volunteering, immersing myself in books and seeking knowledge and experience from everything I could. I worked hard in school, but never gave up my passion for service and for music, always finding time to do what I loved. I'm not perfect, and I always make mistakes, but I'm trying to make my mark in the world, one act of kindness at a time."


School: Stiftsschule Einsiedeln

Home Countries: Switzerland, Hong Kong

"I have a very large extended family with 21 cousins and many aunts and uncles. This has shaped my personality in a way that I always feel like I belong to something bigger because in my family, I share a lot of the attention. This has made me more comfortable when dealing with people and less egoistic: I am often part of a bigger group. Secondly, my parents have always taught us to be thankful for what we have and stay humble. This has helped me be aware of the fact that we should all be conscious of our privileged environment, what we possess, consume, and waste; and try to play our small part in resolving this imbalance. Furthermore, due to my bicultural background I perceive myself to be open-minded and have a good understanding of the different ways that people think, act and interact with each other."


School: Kaiyo Gakuen

Home Country: Japan

"When I ask for help, members of my family never give me a direct answer; instead they encourage a more profound exploration of the matter at hand. I hope that this will yield in depth understanding and critical thinking skills. My family also gave me several opportunities to interact with students from all around the world, welcoming exchange students to our home. Through this experience, I came to love and appreciate my own culture from an outsider’s perspective. I noticed that I cannot gain much from the diverse backgrounds of others without truly understanding my own. It is important that we keep in mind the cultural influences on our actions to better understand issues of global importance."


School: King School

Home Countries: United States, United Kingdom, Russia

"At 3 years old, I was adopted from Irkutsk, Russia. Although it took stacks of paperwork and approvals, a long process through the tough and intimidating Russian courts, and 5 trips, my parents were determined to get me out of that orphanage and into our family. It is because of their fight that I understand my own life as an opportunity to apply that same determination to give others that same chance. My parents have helped to show me the value of an education in becoming a curious and independent thinker. Whether it's because of the story of my background or how I was raised, I've always found it fascinating to learn the stories of others, and how aspects of people's experiences have come to formulate what they believe. To me, there's always something to be learned from every person and their experiences."

Yan Ying "Eunice"

School: Diocesan Girls' School

Home Countries: Hong Kong, Canada

"My family values love and acceptance. On a practical level, my parents are very hardworking and responsible. They inspire me to strive for excellence and uphold a work ethic of commitment. Aside from work, we openly share our experiences every day, supporting each other through the ups and downs in navigating life. Most importantly, my family encourages my character building. One memorable moment was when, upon receiving the news that I had won a competition, my grandma said, “Congratulations! But remember, it is equally important to accept failure when it comes.” Those wise words have been ingrained in my mind and since then, I have learnt much more about myself and about the importance of winning with humility, losing with grace and learning from my failures."


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

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