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  • Writer's pictureGCI

A Summer Update to the GCI Community

Updated: May 21, 2021

This week marks the first full week of July, normally one of our busiest times as the GCI Team completes final preparations and excitement builds for the GCI Summit and the GCI Seminar. Unfortunately, as was announced in April, this year's programs have been cancelled due to COVID-19 (the coronavirus). Although we will not have the opportunity to greet and get to know 28 new Fellows and 12 new Educators this year, we are still dedicating this summer to realizing GCI’s vision of creating a global community where individuals embrace their unique, colorful stories and cultures.

GCI is focusing on supporting our next generation in innovative ways, including through our successful, academically-focused Virtual Harkness®* Sessions for our Ambassadors (alumni) and by empowering our Ambassador Advisory Council (AAC) to host non-academic, cross-cohort "Virtual Hangout Sessions". Our Virtual Harkness® Sessions were conducted over videoconference, led by members of our GCI Faculty from Phillips Exeter Academy. The first sessions covered a range of topics about the coronavirus.

Dr. Eimer Page created an open dialogue with our AAC members about their individual experiences with lockdowns and about how they are pivoting from summer plans that were similarly affected by the coronavirus. During his session, Dr. Tom Simpson addressed the topics of ethics and leadership in the current climate, while providing our Ambassadors with an opportunity to explore what the world may look like on the other side of the pandemic. New GCI Faculty member, Kadeine Peterson, MS, introduced our Ambassadors to a more scientific-related conversation for her session, as they explored the question "Could we have seen this coming?" by learning about Lyme disease and using it as a model for study.

Our COVID-19 series concluded with guest speaker, Dr. Tavajay Campbell, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Belmont University. Dr. Campbell led an engaging conversation where our Ambassadors explored the process of vaccine development and examined the pipeline for coronavirus vaccinations.

Our next sessions dove into environmental justice with Kadeine Peterson returning for a two-part discussion. During the first session, the conversation centered on global food insecurity and offered our Ambassadors the opportunity to share observations of their own communities. For the second session, Ms. Peterson guided participants in thinking about environmental sustainability, conservationism and justice/injustice; Ambassadors were again asked to share and analyze their own experiences.

We have been incredibly moved by the conversations that occurred during each of the Virtual Harkness® Sessions. Ambassadors from every cohort joined us from all over the world and from different time zones, to engage in each conversation. From Tokyo to Mumbai to Tehran to Mombasa to London to Santiago and to our own backyard in Connecticut, our Ambassadors impressed us with all that they have learned about the world around them and all that they hope to contribute and improve.

GCI is committed to seeking out new, virtual ways to connect and engage our 160 Ambassadors and the greater GCI Community. Stay tuned for details about GCI’s first ever alumni engagement platform – expected to launch this September. We continue to push our mission forward, to empower our youth and work together to make a brighter, more welcoming future for all. We are grateful to you as an important member of our GCI Community and excited to make an impact together.


Yumi Kuwana

President and Founder

Global Citizens Initiative

*Harkness® is a registered trademark of Phillips Exeter Academy


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