Your Guests Presenters:
Robin Wiszowaty born and raised in Schaumburg, Illinois, currently splits her time between Toronto and her adoptive home of Kenya. She made the leap in her early twenties and went to live in a Masai village. Suddenly she found herself spending her days hauling water, evading giraffes and living in a tiny hut made of cow dung with her adoptive family. Immersing herself in their culture and communicating solely in Swahili, she was forced to face issues she'd never considered: extreme poverty, drought, female circumcision, corruption—and discovering a love for people in the most unexpected places. Since then, Robin has made Kenya her home, serving as the Kenyan program director with Free The Children to implement long-term development projects in partnership with local communities. She brings understanding about the challenges of living in two worlds. She has extensive experience working with Me to We; a program to inspire global activism.
Justin Bedard, born in Lilongwei, Malawi, spent his childhood playing in the islands of Indonesia and his formative years exploring the depth of Chinese culture. Justin has maintained an ongoing interest in community development and is recognized for his commitment to youth programs around the world. He has worked with the Global Issues Netweork and been involved with conferences in every continent. Having filled his life with adventure guiding, organizational consulting, leadership facilitation, community development and time playing in the mountains, Justin was a co-creator of the WAB Wild Outdoor Education Program at the Western Academy of Beijing and has been with JUMP since its conception in 2006. Justin holds a B.A. in International Development with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Guelph. Most notably, Justin has been awarded the Canadian St. John's Ambulance Award of Merit and the Dragon Award for Courage and Service to Humanity.
Frank Cohn holds his Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, specializing in International Social Development and Social Enterprise Administration. He currently works as the Executive Director of a start-up non profit, Globalhood Inc., runs their primary project, Global Potential, and also works part-time as the Associate Director of Bushwick IMPACT, a family resource center in Bushwick. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, he has worked extensively in the field with marginalized youth, women's groups, and communities, including a post as Field Director for an NGO in Central America and with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in Social Policy and Development for Youth. In 2005-6 he was the Founding President of the Columbia University Partnership for International Development (CUPID). He brings 10 years of managerial and supervisory experience with Community Service and Development programs, and regularly conducts trainings for human service staff on Communication, Stress Management, and Team Building. He has work experience in 12 countries in Asia and the Americas, and speaks fluent French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and functional Hindi, Haitian Creole, and Italian.
Rajendra Subadi, a Nepali national, was 24 years with a newborn baby and a small trekking business based out of Kathmandu, Nepal when he decided he needed more from life and that he had a greater purpose. At that time he decided he would start an orphanage in Kathmandu. Because of poverty and political unreast within the country, Nepal has a very high population of homeless people and orphaned children. Against the advice of family and friends, Rajendra rented the ground floor of a personal dwelling and 'rescued' 10 children from the streets. The plan was to support the children through profits from his trekking business and through volunteers. This was in 2004 and unfortunately soon after the orphanage openend the political unrest in Nepal hit its peak which meant there were no volunteers and no trekkers. Rajendra spent his life savings and his family and his orphanage were deep in debt. Again, against his family's advice he kept moving forward knowing what he was doing was right and was what he was meant to be doing. By early 2009 the political situation had stabilized, trekkers and volunteers began to return to Nepal and Rajendra was able to begin to see the progress with his orphanage and with the children. By summer of 2009 things had really picked up and Rajendra began to think about the possibility of purchasing land and building a new home for the children in OCEAN Nepal. Recently this dream was realized through connections made with the ACS community, land was purchased last October and this October the grand opening of Ramro Sathi ("Best Friend" in Nepali) House took place. At the end of October the 10 children moved in to the ground floor of the new facility and by February the entire 3 1/2 floor facility will be finished bringing the capacity of OCEAN Nepal to 24 children.
Chris Bashinelli was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After a decade-long acting career spanning MTV to The Sopranos he decided to pursue a more meaningful goal. Headlines about world hunger, human suffering and extreme poverty, made him curious how the other half of the world survived, so he went to live in Africa. Now he's traveling to impoverished areas worldwide to find out first hand how the other half of the world lives. Chris is the producer and host of Bridge the Gap, an entertainment web series about cultural exchange that empowers young people to take action towards alleviating global poverty.
Pippa Biddle was selected by the Jane Goodall Institute and Dr. Jane Goodall as the Roots & Shoots Youth Leadership Fellow for 2010 - 2011. As the Fellow Pippa is leading the Global Youth Leadership Campaign and serves as a mentor to the National Youth Leadership Council. Over the course of her Fellowship, Pippa will be spreading her message of hope and the power of youth service through speaking engagements in the United States and abroad. Taught the value of giving back from a young age, Pippa brings a great deal of experience to Roots & Shoots. As a member and co-head of the service club Concordia at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, Pippa planned and mentored students as they developed service projects that gave back to the community. Among these projects, was a Mother/Daughter Leadership Tea aimed at building confidence and leadership skills in girls in the Connecticut foster care system as well as growing the bond between foster moms and daughters. Pippa has also lead and participated in a reading buddies program, assisted in planning residential camp for children with HIV/AIDS, and served as coach for individual athletes in Alpine Ski Racing with Special Olympics.
Human trafficking is an enormous problem in South Africa that is rarely brought to light by its people or other populations around the world. Fortunately, Chiara Delaney, a teenager from South Africa, was able to shed light on this devastating issue during the March 2010 EduCare Global Issues Conference held in Doha, Qatar. Over 27 million people have been victims of human trafficking and this number continues to increase. 1.2 million children are taken or tricked and kidnapped for human trafficking every year and half of them are African. Children are trafficked for forced begging, child soldiers, forced labor, organ trafficking, illegal adoptions, and sexual exploitations. Chiara is trying to help with this issue by buying and renovating a safe house in the Valley of Fish Hoek for young girls who have been victims of human trafficking. The initiative is known as “S-Cape” and will offer 6 month and year long programs for girls who need rehabilitation. In order to complete her work, there is a large amount of money that Chiara and her friends still need to raise.
It all started as a school assignment four years ago. When Cameron Oliver was told he had to do a project, he chose to do something related to camels after reading a newspaper article about their plight. According to Cameron’s extensive research, currently one in two camels in the UAE will die a painful death due to trash that is not disposed of properly. The biggest culprits are plastic bags, which can blow from the city out into the desert. “The camels eat the plastic and it calcifies in their stomachs, forming a mass like a hard rock. They think they’re full so they don’t eat any more and they just lie down and die a slow, painful death – the younger camels die in three days, but for the older ones it might take up to three months.” Since that first project in 2007, Cameron has gotten international recognition thanks to an interview he did with Reuters TV. In 2008, he was the first child to ever win the prestigious Abu Dhabi Award. The enthusaistic student was also awarded first place in the International Young Eco-hero Award 2009 based in USA. In addition to speaking at several schools around town like the American Community School and Emirates National School, Cameron also organized a trip to clean up the desert. With the help of the Abu Dhabi 4X4 Club, 33 students and adults spent the day in the desert collecting two trailers full of trash. Despite global acknowledgment, Cameron’s sole sponsors at the moment are his parents, Mark and Michele, who help him print his awareness campaign bumper stickers and other campaign items bearing the “Please stop killing me, Don’t Litter” logo, which are used at presentations at schools.
Nicole Lopez Del Carril from Buenos Aires, Argentina and Boulder, Colorado, is a freshman at New York University Abu Dhabi. Nicole works in the Community Outreach office at NYUAD to create opportunities between organizations and students. In high school, Nicole was president of her Key Club, a community service organization, and involved in the Student Government. In her community, Nicole was the Youth Chair of her local Relay for Life, a community event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. Nicole is studying Social Research and Public Policy and speaks English, Spanish, French, and is learning Arabic. In the future, she hopes to work for a humanitarian effort in an NGO or through the UN.
Daria Karaulova was born and raised in Russia. At the age of 15 she became an exchange student spending a year living in the host family and studying in a public American school in a small town New Castle, PA, the USA. America first introduced her to the world of community service and volunteer work. She was involved in various volunteer activities in YMCA ( swimming coach assistant for children and disabled people), as well as presenting and explaining the cultural differences between Russia and the USA to American teenages. The experience that I achieved in the USA, inspired me to help developing community outreach in my home country of Russia. I worked and volunteered at different positions in the American Councils in Moscow, started working with a very poor orphanage house, as well as donating fund raised money and supplies. My life logo is: "In order to change the world, start with yourself".
Jorge Zárate was born in Mexico, raised in Argentina, did high school in China, and is now studying at New York University Abu Dhabi. He is majoring in Biochemistry, in hopes to attend Medical school upon graduation. As President of his high school's Student Council, Jorge organised a 400-strong campaign to motivate his classmates to make a difference in the world; he has also been involved in theatre and Model United Nations, and lead an education programme for the less privileged. Jorge speaks English, Spanish, French, Mandarin and is learning Arabic; he hopes to work for the United Nations in the future.
Tom Taylor from Adelaide, Australia, has a history of involvement in social justice campaigns. From leading a forum for his peers about Climate Change to travelling to Borneo with WWF Australia to write on the complex social issues that hinder conservation efforts. He is passionate about environmental and human rights causes and sees himself working in one of these sectors in the future. In the meantime, he studies History at New York University Abu Dhabi.
Edward Withers is a 3rd- year student from NYU New York, working as a Resident Advisor at the Abu Dhabi campus, while continuing his degree studies in Politics and Middle Eastern & International Studies. He is specifically Interested in a game theory approach to international politics and how decision-making takes place at the international level. At NYU Edward have experience running volunteer teams for student government, and also worked as an Academic tutor.
Usama Hussain was born and raised in Lahore Pakistan, graduated in the top 1% of his class from Lahore Grammar School, and is now studying in New York University Abu Dhabi. As a student in Lahore, he launched a campaign to collect funds for the flood victims in Pakistan and with the help of five great friends raised more than 3500 dollars in two days from school faculty and fellow students. As member of the school’s student council and President of the Science Club, he organized several social and cultural events and also participated in Model United Nations and debating competitions.
Laith Aqel is a Palestinian American, born in Jordan though he spent the majority of his life in the United States. As a committee chair for his local branch in New Jersey, he organized a Relay for Life event in association with the American Cancer Society, raising over $70,000 in a single night. Very much involved with Middle Eastern affairs, Laith has also worked with the National Arab American Medical Association to raise funds for the establishment of the first National Diabetic Centre in Palestine. Currently, he is a student ambassador at New York University Abu Dhabi and intends on studying Social Research and Public Policy with future aspirations in international law and humanitarian work for voiceless oppressed groups.