Introducing the GCI Fellows 2022!
We are thrilled to introduce you to the GCI Fellows 2022!
In just a couple of weeks, 36 Fellows from all corners of the globe will start their 10-month GCI Fellowship by gathering in person at the GCI Summit 2022 at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. All 36 will become part of our global community of lifelong agents of positive change as they design and implement local solutions to global issues through the lens of ethical leadership while learning new frameworks for dialogue and problem-solving rooted in mutual respect and empathy. The overarching theme of this year’s program is Sustainability, and the goal is to present opportunities for students to make a difference in their own communities and to build a lifelong and life-changing community of peers across the world.
This year's cohort of Fellows represents 43 different cultural heritages, speaks 24 languages and studies at 33 schools in 15 countries!
Continue reading to learn more about each Fellow and their stories.
School: City Montessori School
“My mother has played a very vital role in my upbringing. I lost my father to a car accident at the age of 3 and my mother, a student at that time, managed to become financially independent. That has been my inspiration through all the tough times in my life. I have been raised to enjoy the present, cherish the people around me and be appreciative of all I have. Coming from India, where being a widow is looked down upon, has taught me to work towards educating and uplifting my society. My upbringing has taught me to be an independent, free-thinker, to enjoy my present and make the fullest of whatever life gives me. I will bring to St. Andrews the best fusion of Indian values, something that is liberal and uplifting but also is rooted in my proud and rich historical and cultural heritage.”
School: Phillips Exeter Academy
Citizenship: United States
“I’ve always seen my family as not only my parents but also as the community that raised me. They’ve all molded my values and character; I am who I am because of them. I learned how to be resilient from watching my family trying to survive everyday, and because they’ve never given up, neither will I. I value education because my family never had that opportunity in Mexico nor in the U.S., and I know they had dreams of going to college. I aim to accomplish the dreams of my family, because I want to make them proud, but also to set an example for all the children who grew up the way I did. My family has been so selfless and they’ve all done as much as they could for me, for my success. I grew up admiring and yearning to be like them, and because of that my values and character have been created with their hard-working spirits in mind and every day I know they are with me because I learned the most important skills from them.”
School: African Leadership Academy
“From a young age, my family has taught me the importance of self-compassion. I’ve learned to be kind to myself first, and then show compassion and respect towards others. This has helped me to not only be understanding when I make mistakes but also to view these mistakes as opportunities to learn. Further, through my parents’ hard work in providing for my sibling and my needs, despite the difficulties in the process of immigration, I have learnt to persevere. I am determined at working hard to achieve my goals despite any obstacles I may face. In respect to my culture, my family has taught me the value of community. In the words of my mother: giving back to the community is like planting the seed for a better future. I have embarked on community development projects ranging from a non-profit organization (Brighter Future projects) and advocacy and activism (Conscious to Change) to fundraising, volunteer work and making donations. All these projects are based on my passion for community progression through literacy development, economic justice and inclusivity of disadvantaged individuals in my immediate community."
School: San Domenico School
Citizenship: United States
“Growing up in a two-mom family has been one of the greatest influences on my values and character. My two mothers not only spoke of justice and perseverance in the face of hate, but lived it. Having to get officially married and remarried three separate times due to fluctuating state and federal laws around same-sex marriage was a defining event in my life, as at the age of three I attended their third and final marriage ceremony. Their defiance and courage to express their love in the face of bigoted laws taught me at a young age that love as a value and aspect of one’s life must be diligently fought for, politically and socially. Not only did they demonstrate fighting for their civil right to love each other freely, they embodied the value of loving compassion since I was born. My parents’ consistent emphasis on compassion, forgiveness, and positive-discipline in parenting set the framework for my core values. These values that developed at a young age morphed into my deep passion for racial justice, prison reform, feminism, environmental justice, and activism of all areas. Through social justice, I can truly embody each core value I have learned as a child and continue to learn."
School: Senegalese American Bilingual School
Citizenship: Senegal, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo
“Family represents the base of education. In my case, my family has helped me become a responsible, mature, and polyvalent man; through the challenges and highlights that we've been through. My parents divorced when I was still 8. During this time of life when we still need both maternal and paternal love, I experienced the difficult separation from my father and started to live in a single-parent family with my mother and my three other brothers. Despite the challenge of growing up without my father around, it has made me emotionally resilient to certain situations, and resourceful. In addition, as a child living in a single-parent family, I took on much of the character and attitude of the parent responsible for my guardianship. Thus, I'm doing my absolute best and striving for perfection like my perfectionist mother. Moreover, I'm always looking at the positive while striving for a better future just like my optimistic father. Secondly, as a family of practicing Christians, much of my moral education has been based on the gospel. Among these Christian values, I can state respect for the food God provides us, self-compassion, honesty, and love for one's neighbor. In conclusion, my family built who I am today, and I'm grateful that they took care of me."
School: Ethical Culture Fieldston School
Citizenship: United States, United Kingdom
“One of my greatest privileges is that I am a part of a supportive and loving family. Something that I think makes my family so cohesive is the ideals that my parents raised my two sisters and me on: honesty and hard work. When my grandparents immigrated from India to the United States, they believed in the American dream. My paternal grandfather left the conflict in India due to the Partition of British India. He came to America for refuge and opportunity. Since he didn't have enough money to bring my newborn father and grandmother, he immediately sought an education to gain a respectable background. When my grandfather finally worked hard enough, he started his dream job as an engineer for the tech company, Bell Labs. Soon after, my grandfather saved enough money to bring my father and grandmother to Elizabeth, New Jersey, settling into a house that my grandmother still lives in today. Despite my parents telling me the importance of hard work and sacrifice, I see my grandparents as living proof. Whether it be my grandfather working hard to make enough money, or my grandmother sacrificing herself in India, my family's definition of hard work and sacrifice has made me the person I am today."
School: American Robert College of Istanbul
“Due to my father’s occupation, my childhood years were spent moving from one place to another. When we finally were able to settle in one place, I was introduced to the concept of a close-knit family. My hometown was—and still is—an unprivileged town located in Central Anatolia. Being surrounded by this small community, I always had someone asking me about how I was doing at school. I used to slide over these questions saying, “I was doing okay.” But they were never satisfied. Most of them had spent their lives in the same house they were born into. Only my mom and my uncle had gone to university, and the rest hadn’t even gone to high school. Their motives were sincere: they wanted me to have what they couldn’t. Looking back, it worked. I came to Robert College as a residential student and with a full scholarship. I have a great GPA. I aim to study Computer Science and earn my first million before I turn 35. I was then able to see how I could make myself useful the way they wanted me to be: if only I could create a small change in my community.”
School: African Leadership Academy
"My family has always been supportive of all I do. They incentivize me to try new activities and experiences and most saliently, to stick to the ones I like most. This has pushed me to always get ready and excited to learn new concepts of life. Through the various activities I was able to participate in as a child (music, sports, exchange programs, volunteering), I have become more empathetic because I gained the ability to easily put myself in someone else’s shoes. One of the most frustrating things in my family when I was younger was making/buying gifts that would please my siblings and parents. In the family, we tend to only value items that are “original”. That very authenticity made it difficult for me to come up with innovative ideas and put them into action. As much as it was challenging when I was younger, I am very grateful now because I always tend to be creative not only in gifts but also in school projects and music writing. Lastly, community service is a top priority. I treasure the Sundays we’d get ready to help feed the homeless or rebuild rooms in a disadvantaged community. I have always been involved in giving back to people wherever I am."
School: Freies Gymnasium Zürich
"I have a very large, extended family with 21 cousins. My cousins reside in Switzerland, the United States and Hong Kong. Even though we live on three different continents, we see each other regularly and this has given me a very international outlook. This exposure has also led me to realize how important it is to treat every individual with respect - even if they are very different and have opposite morals from myself. My parents have always been open-minded and supportive of my choices. I followed the footsteps of my sister and brother and went to the same elementary and middle school as they did, but for high school, I decided to chart my own path and transferred to a bilingual school further away from home in order to pursue my education both in German and English. While both of my siblings have selected liberal arts universities (my sister is at EHL and my brother, a GCI 2019 alum, is at Harvard), I would like to attend ETH – the “MIT of Europe” – where you select your concentration before admission and most of the classes are in your chosen field. I am thankful that my parents believe in me. With their trust and support, I feel safe to pursue my own dreams."
Giang "Viet Giang"
School: Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted
"'Bong lua chin la bong lua cui dau,’ or in English: ‘The riper the grains a rice plant produces, the deeper it bows.’ This motto, by which my parents live, is a manifestation of their humility. Their childhood struggle working to help feed their family and study simultaneously gave them a certain perspective they passed on to my twin brother and I. Whenever we score high in an exam, my parents would congratulate us, but concurrently remind us of the strenuous steps ahead. My brother is also instrumental in my character growth. Being the energetic ‘captain’ on the basketball court, I can be hot-tempered when opponents provoke me, but fortunately, my twin brother chooses to engage competitors with serenity, using his voice only to call out plays or encourage his teammates. My love for knowledge can be attributed to my mother. Growing up, I would always wake up in the morning only to find her engrossed in a book. Largely due to her, now my desk is stuffed with books, ranging in topics from finance to data science. I am currently writing a book on decentralized markets, such as cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange trading (forex). These markets are banned in Vietnam."