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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.



 

Aadya

School: City Montessori School

Citizenship: India

“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.”


Andrea

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.”


Chiamaka "Nancy"

School: African Leadership Academy

Citizenship: Nigeria

“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."

Chloe

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."


Dayan

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."

Deven

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."


Ecem

School: American Robert College of Istanbul

Citizenship: Turkey

“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.”


Elyes "Ilyes"

School: African Leadership Academy

Citizenship: Tunisia

"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."


Finn

School: Freies Gymnasium Zürich

Citizenship: Switzerland

"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

Citizenship: Vietnam

"'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."


Jules

School: Oakwood Secondary School

Citizenship: United States

"I am fortunate to have two families, my nuclear family and my ‘chosen’ family at Los Angeles Ballet Academy. My nuclear family taught me to stand up for myself while being considerate of all perspectives. My mom borrowed her mantra from John Lennon, which soon became mine: “There are no problems, only solutions.'' As the founder of Step Up, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a pathway to change for women and girls, my mom always found solutions, greatly influencing my outlook. While my mother represents a vocal advocate for young women, my father has instilled in me the value of listening, which makes me feel heard and taught me to appreciate all perspectives. I found my ‘chosen’ family in my coaches and fellow students at Los Angeles Ballet Academy, building deep-rooted relationships fueled by our shared love of dance and respect for one another. This ‘family’ has taught me the importance of teamwork and constructive collaboration. My two families instilled in me the responsibility of advocating for women, the importance of having an open mind, and the value of cooperation. These attributes have shaped me into the person I am."


Juliana

School: Colegio Nueva Granada

Citizenship: Colombia, Spain

"My parents have always believed in me and their pushing me to accomplish even the smallest things created a can-do attitude within me. This influenced my character because it taught me determination and hard work. I go after my dreams and don't give up no matter how many times I fail, and as Gandhi once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history”. With no doubt this has proved to be true throughout my life, inspiring me to be the best version of myself. My parent's unconditional love and integrity taught me the importance of forgiveness, honesty, and compassion and gave me one of the most important traits, empathy. This is a trait of great value as it allows one to better understand others, allowing one to be helpful, respectful, and compassionate. Being empathetic has influenced me because it made me a person who values friendship and family, as well as made me a better friend, allowing me to be there for others and offer my support. However, being empathetic has also made me more involved within my community, as it created my passion for service and helping others."


Kafin

School: University of Indonesia

Citizenship: Indonesia

"As an only child, I would say that family is one of the paramount things in my life. I think it is, if anything, the first experience the child engages in that vaguely resembles institutive education and the larger community — in a way, it is a microcosm of society. Knowing that it has certainly impacted how I orient myself through the world. I am still learning to become a person of integrity — I also struggle with discipline and self-esteem — but I feel my family has really supported and nurtured me to aspire to better myself every time."


Kamilla

School: United World College ISAK Japan

Citizenship: Tajikistan

“Family for me represents unconditional love and equity. My peace-loving grandmother was my very first instructor, who supported my choices while also allowing my free spirit to wander through cultivating my curiosity and intellect. She taught me the value of believing in myself and chasing my dreams. My interest in research and invention was kindled the moment I saw my beautiful mother in a sleek, white lab coat giving a university lecture to a group of medical students. My mother instilled in me the importance of financial independence and self-sufficiency in women. Today, I can openly share my thoughts in front of a huge group of people, handle my own finances, and respond to any circumstance without panicking. This is only possible because I was educated by a loving and compassionate mother. My aunty, on the other hand, taught me how to defend myself and my ideas. She instilled in me a positive perspective and a can-do attitude. She inspires me every day, and if I can become even 10% like her, I'll know I'm doing well. Overall, I'm glad for all of the strong women in my family, and I aspire to be like them someday."


Ka Yan "Alice"

School: Diocesan Girls' School

Citizenship: Hong Kong

“I live in a simple family full of love where my parents stick to only a few core values like health, love and trust. These values are of the utmost importance because once you lose them, you may lose them for life. Therefore, I am fed with nutritious meals and do a lot of sports. In my opinion, love and trust are values more related to other people. Working in a team has a multiplier effect, including promoting creativity, diversity and specializing in individual strengths. However, different people may have different thoughts. That is why dealing with people is an art. My parents act as my role models by not being mean and showing their love and trust to others. For other values, they influence me in a more indirect way, e.g. from reading stories to me with a moral when I was young to sitting aside to let me learn from mistakes. This trains me to be courageous enough to face any challenges in life.”


Keyan

School: Dyatmika School

Citizenship: Canada, United Kingdom

“My family is very loving. I think my family is generally quite generous with the time and effort we give to one another. There's rarely any fighting or only ever light arguments. This has made me very grateful because many people don't have a group they can rely on for support. This has taught me to respect each other and to look out and protect each other in whatever relationship. My character is obviously not as tough because of this, but I think that's ok. I feel like my family is not just my blood, but also my childhood nanny, my tutors, swim instructors and mentors because they are who I spend a lot of my time with as well."


Khanh "Chris"

School: Pomfret School

Citizenship: Vietnam

“Responsibility and selflessness are two of the most important values that my parents have fostered in me since I was a child. My grandmother often recounts the story of my dad breaking a window when he was young. He was playing soccer with his friends in a tiny alley in the neighborhood. One errant shot later and my dad’s favorite soccer ball now occupied someone’s living room. Nobody was home at the time, and he had the option of retrieving the ball and fleeing without consequences or facing the wrath of the homeowner when they arrived. Even though his friends left him, he chose the latter. His integrity and responsibility impressed the homeowner so much that they forgave him for his honesty and no punishments were levied against him. Taking ownership and responsibility over my own choices, I seek to espouse this same character trait in my own life. My mother’s selflessness is something that I aspire to fully obtain and can only do my best to emulate. She often took my brother and me out on weekends to clean up trash on the streets. Each summer, we traveled to schools with disadvantaged and underprivileged children and donated school supplies and food. She values honesty, empathy, and character development over everything else. Despite the fact that my parents raised me in fundamentally different ways, they both had a tremendous impact on who I am today. "


Lassiter

School: Phillips Exeter Academy

Citizenship: United States, Ireland

“My Mother lived in Ireland until I was born and had a very traditional Irish Catholic upbringing. I, myself am not religious, but I do pick out messages from religions such as Catholicism and Buddhism. Catholicism’s focus on forgiveness and giving to the less fortunate are two ideologies that have stuck with me. Other religions, such as Buddhism, also have significance in my life. The idea that all living things should be valued, meditation, and the concept of putting good energy back into the world are morals that I carry. My father’s upbringing was centered around science and education, which brought a passion for learning to my character. My dad is also from the Caribbean and for a time ran a hurricane outreach program focused on rehabilitating the island he’s from after Irma. His empathetic and calm demeanor while taking on responsibility inspired me to foster the same type of proactive leadership within myself. My own experiences and the people around me have made me a more open and grounded person. My school is a hodgepodge of people from different backgrounds and listening to other students has helped me develop an understanding of the diverse experiences that each person and culture face."


Lucy

School: Northfield Mount Hermon

Citizenship: United States

"The school I attend is competitive, filled with predominantly college-bound, hardworking students. Many spend summers in summer school or at internships. I, on the other hand, spend my summer working at summer camp and on a month-long vacation at my family's homestead property in Canada. In my first year of high school, this often left me feeling that I was not doing enough. However, the influence of my family, primarily my mother, has since changed my perspective. I see the value in being well-rounded and having experiences other than those just in the classroom. My mother encourages me not to choose activities that I have the best chance of succeeding at, but instead the activities that make me excited at the thought of participating. Now, when I attend school or any other program, I am able to channel a love of learning. I am able to see that being able to solve a calculus problem can be just as important as knowing how to build a fire, canoe on a windy day or interact calmly with an angry five year old. Simply because knowledge has different applications and impact on our lives does not mean that it is any less valuable."


Lujain

School: English Talents School

Citizenship: Jordan

"The positive correlation between the values I hold and my childhood stems from the quality time I spent with my grandma growing up. Not to disregard the honorable efforts my parents put into raising the confident, independent woman I am. I’m simply suggesting that the one person who had the greatest impact on my personality was her and that even by the end of her journey, she transformed me into THE better version of myself. My grandma shared a story that, at the time, neither of us thought it would have any impact on the way I perceive the world. She was riding the bus back from the orphanage she manages, holding a load of gifts that would entice any child's attention. My 6-year-old uncle innocently asks about their belonging, knowing well that they were for less fortunate kids. Accordingly, she answers. He naively mumbles under his breath "I wish I were an orphan," not intending to experience their misery. This story never ceases to flash back into my mind whenever I feel ungrateful that things I worked so hard for didn’t go my way. Even though being caught up in the moment makes me feel injustice, deep down, I’m comforted by the fact that the thing I wanted, after all, wasn’t best for me."


Malyq

School: Santee Education Complex

Citizenship: United States

"My mom and grandmother have influenced me by keeping me on a good path away from trouble. As a small child, I had lots of cousins in gangs and I would hang out with them. My big cousin Jimmy taught me how to do graffiti. It got really fun but then I got caught. My mom told me I could still do art but in a way I don't end up in the back of a cop car. So I started drawing, then I tried painting and doing graffiti legally at Venice Beach and on plywood in my backyard. My mom kept me out of trouble by showing me I could do what I like without getting in trouble with the police. Another way my mom and her situation with my father has influenced my character is how I have extra respect for all mothers, especially single mothers.There is a large sum of my family that have involvement in gangs, but I'm making my own path by trying to make my future career firefighting. I would like to be a firefighter to provide help to people that need it and who do not have the ability to help themselves."


Mariam

School: King's Academy

Citizenship: Palestine

"I grew up in Gaza, a war zone that is filled with conflict and the strict rules of the culture. My mom raised me alone. My mom is the superhero of my life, the one who made me realize that I can be whomever I want. She always knew how to protect me. My mother’s arms were the wings that made me realize it was time to start in a new place with a new life. It is my mom who made me realize it is time to start acting against the strict rules that tried to break my wings. My mother raised me and influenced me to follow my own rules where I see all people are equal and all people deserve to live happily. My mother was the one who taught me that I am working for myself and my community. The one who inspired me to be strong and independent. I am so thankful for this amazing gift that I got to be the daughter of a great fighter who taught me that my voice can be heard and to work for the values that can make my and my community's life easier and better."


Maya

School: The American School in Japan

Citizenship: United States, Japan

"I am Japanese-American, meaning I have had two very different, and sometimes opposed, cultures ingrained into me. My father is American: his openness and entrepreneurial mindset have inspired me to approach discomfort forthrightly. My mother is Japanese: her mindset of sacrifice for the greater society instilled in me to take care of the broader community, even if it means making personal sacrifices. Though it seems easy to reconcile these cultures, it has been hard at times. To be "American" is to be outspoken, but in Japan, "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down." Growing up, I had questioned which philosophy was correct, but I’ve realized that there's no one right answer. Instead, both mindsets have a place and time. Beyond my Japanese-American values, my brothers have also instilled within me certain characteristics. My older brother is an introvert: he has shown me the importance of self-reflection, as it helps deepen people's understanding of their hopes, dreams, and goals. My younger brother is an extrovert: he has shown me the importance of camaraderie and friendship, as both can be used to unite people around a common cause. I have taken lessons from both by reflecting on how I want to impact this world and engaging with others to inspire them with my own vision."