Tag Archives: leadership

Summer Immersion Update – From Naomi!

Coming into this experience I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or what it would entail, but I feel as though I’m starting to catch on more. Working in the hospital again this year has been incredible. To be honest, I feel as though it has almost been a bit harder this year. For the first two days that we spent in the hospital, I found myself leaving with a sense of panic. I kept on feeling as though I had no time to spend with the patients and the friends I had created last year and also make time to create new connections. Last year I left here with the idea of applying to Youth Board, which provided me with the small sense of hope that I might return. This year, though, I realize that it would be very difficult, if even possible, to return in the coming years and visit my friends in the hospital, which is a terrifying and sad thought.

Things have been really great though overall and I’m still a bit overwhelmed and astonished that I’m actually back here. Leading is definitely more exhausting than I could ever have imagined. I feel like the Junior Leaders have many behind the scenes responsibilities, which are difficult to notice from the outside, so I don’t have a perfect image to replicate. Many of the responsibilities and tasks we have are fairly simple and would be quickly accomplished by one person, but in the effort to foster teamwork, we delegate different parts of the job to different people. It is very important and provides the participants with an opportunity to practice their leadership skills. It is just a much more tiring process when you have to delegate, check in, confirm that the job was completed, and reflect for each individual task. It absolutely pays off, though, when you see someone that was once shy and timid share, open up to the group, and blossom in the work they are doing and people they are interacting with. It really is incredible. I can’t wait to see how other develop as well.

-Naomi Rothenberg (Mercer Island High School Class of 2016, incoming first year student at Willamette University)


GV Alumni Voices: Haley Robinson

Haley Robinson, a former Global Visionaries participant, will be returning to Guatemala this week as a Junior Leader for the 2013-14 Summer Program and will be documenting her experience through photos and blog posts.


Ian: So, its been a couple of years since your own student experience in Guatemala. At what point did you decide to go back?

Haley: I decided I wanted to go back was after having a conversation with Chris Fontana earlier this year when I was looking for summer opportunities. My parents suggested that I look into volunteering with GV this summer so, after much deliberation surrounding other jobs, I decided that I wanted to devote my time to GV. Chris offered me the opportunity to travel as a trip leader, and that was the point at which I decided I wanted to go back.


Was it mostly the travel that appealed to you?

The ability to travel was definitely part of it. But, for the most part, I wanted the experience to work and travel as a Junior Leader. I have the privilege of working alongside Chris Fontana, Mario Flores, and others who are incredibly skilled at what they do. Growing as an individual and a leader in an environment like the one GV fosters is an opportunity I didn’t want to take for granted.


How do you think integrating into Guatemalan culture will be different now compared to last time?

I now have more experience travelling. The last time I visited Guatemala, I was a sophomore in high school; now I’m going into my sophomore year of college. I’ve travelled pretty extensively in that period and I think I now have more of an ability to assimilate into different cultures and groups of people. It seems more natural for me now, whereas when I was younger it was more uncomfortable.


So you think the personal connections will be more impactful for you this time?

Exactly! I think last time I was able to make strong connections with my group members, but language barriers distanced me from delving into personal connections with Guatemalans. Now, as I return, my Spanish has improved and I feel more comfortable creating those closer relationships with local people.


What will be different coming in as a Junior Leader rather than a student?

I think it will be a completely different experience, and I’ll be able to see Guatemala through a completely different lens. For almost two months now I have been working closely with the GV staff and so I will be returning with a different perspective of GV, its work, and the logistics of the programs.


What do you think is important to impart onto the students you’ll be leading?

It’s been interesting to see how my life has been affected by this program and I want to see the same transformational change in the students. I don’t necessarily know how I want to approach providing them with that experience yet, but it’s something I’ll be working on day by day—I just want to be a support for them, and listen—that’s the most important part of my job.


What will be most difficult about leading?

Being able to embrace the style of GV leadership is going to be a challenge for me since I’m so comfortable in my own ways of leading. I suppose being able to fully understand the program, being able to impart that on the students, and sharing with them the foundation of Global Visionaries is going to be a rewarding challenge for me. I want to give them a very full and unforgettable experience.


Which people are you most excited to revisit?

Well, I actually planned a dinner with my original host family, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again. I’m also excited to reconnect with Sandra, Billy, Aurelio, and others from the Guatemalan team. Now as a Junior Leader, I’m looking forward to creating deeper personal and professional connections with them.


What do you think, besides the physical work that you’re doing, you’ll leave the Guatemalans with after you go?

I think once I get a sense of the community and how much it’s evolved since I was last there, I’ll be able to better tell. Times have changed since I was last there, technologically and otherwise, and I’m interested to see the advancements that their society has made. As far as what I’m gonna leave them with, I really can’t say at the moment. I think that will come with time.


Follow Haley’s adventures on the GV blog – https://gvisionaries.wordpress.com – enjoy regular updates featuring photos and writing documenting the 2014 Summer experience and more!

Noah Zeichner featured in Rethinking Schools’ Fall 2013 issue for his article “Rethinking Shit: Excrement and equity.”

Art By Erik Ruin
Erik Ruin

Noah Zeichner teaches the Global Leadership Class at Chief Sealth International High School, which was developed by Global Visionaries for students to have a safe environment to discuss the issues of our world today and what can be done about them. Zeichner often addresses global poverty in his class sessions, and his unit on rethinking shit has quickly become one of his favorites.

Approaching the topic of human waste is uncomfortable at best, especially in the classroom setting. However, Noah Zeichner has found a way to make a lasting impact on his students by approaching the world’s sanitation problem with an immersive perspective, by making his students delve into the topic of shit and how it affects our world. In the early moments of his class session, Zeichner shows his students a clip from the film Slumdog Millionaire of a boy delving through a latrine in Mumbai in order to meet a famous movie star. Zeichner comments, “The latrine scene is disgusting, and our natural reaction is often to laugh. It relaxes the students enough to be able to talk seriously about a seriously gross topic”.  Showing documentaries and film clips that show how truly horrific this problem is, he is able to trigger emotional reactions in his students to interest them and inspire them to learn more.

The spark of inspiration is as simple as learning key facts, such as the scary truth that 40 percent of all humans have nowhere to defecate. To those who have never had to worry about having a place to go to the bathroom besides waiting in a long line at a busy place, this fact may seem shocking and hard to hear; but for those who have to go to the bathroom in the same water they use to cook their food with, it’s all they know. However, Zeichner makes it clear that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Zeichner stresses the importance of looking at the causes and consequences of this global issue, and not just possible solutions that don’t address the root problem. Simply delivering toilets to those in need without educating them on the consequences (and benefits!) of their own human waste isn’t going to do enough. Addressing the imbalance of power and wealth within our world is a necessary step towards change. Altering our current economic policies that favor the wealthy is a crucial element to think about when discussing what can be done to help places in dire need. For Zeichner, change is a possibility through educating his students and inspiring them to educate their friends and families, to one day inspire change globally.

Here at Global Visionaries, we’re focused on the idea that youth leadership can inspire change throughout the globe, and we believe empowering today’s youth is the key to economic and social action. New and innovative ideas spread like wildfire through groups of young people who are truly inspired. We’ve found that one of the best ways to reach youth is by bringing these programs straight to their schools. To find out more about the Global Leadership Class, check out the description found on our website.

To read the full article featured in Rethinking Schools, you can subscribe via their website.

Intern Insights: What Are We Doing Here?

By Noel Chapman, PR & Communications Intern

image[1] rotatedHello GV Community!

My name is Noel Chapman, and I am a PR and Communications intern.  I introduced myself at the beginning of the year (see Greetings from New GV Intern Noel Chapman), but I wanted to talk to you all in more detail about what I am doing here.

You may have seen me or my classmates around the Global Visionaries office, out and about with Earth Corps or digging in at the Local Roots farm.  We are all a part of the Humanities for Leadership Studies major at Seattle University, but what exactly does that mean and what in the world are we doing at GV?

As I said in my previous article, the Humanities for Leadership Studies (or BAHL as we call it) is a degree that studies both leadership theory and philosophy as well as practical skills that any leader should have.  This major is in direct fulfillment of the last part of Seattle University’s mission: “empowering leaders for a just and humane world.”  Sounds a lot like GV’s mission, “Empowering young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future,” doesn’t it?

One of the reasons why I love this major is the combination of theoretical discussion and then practical application.  This has occurred in many classes that I have taken for my major requirements so far and is also seen in this internship experience.  It really ensures that I am learning and remembering the information that I get in class.

During the sophomore year of the BAHL degree, we must participate in a local internship.  This is obviously a time for professional development and skill building.  However, our major does not just leave it at that!  We take a class in tandem with our internship.  Fall quarter the class was heavily informational as we learned about organizational theory and culture.  During winter quarter and now spring quarter, we are doing more application than theory as we reflect in papers and present our observations to our classmates.  We focus on applying the knowledge we gained fall quarter.

For those of us at GV, this has been such an incredible learning opportunity.  We have and continue to delve into GV’s organizational culture and how GV really works.  It has enhanced my internship experience so much! Because of the design of this educational experience, I can now say that I learned much more than those basic office skills that any intern can pick up on; I learned how to identify an underlying organizational culture and evaluate how it fits in with the every day functions of the office.

If you have any questions for me after hearing about this program, please feel free to ask (especially any interested high school students)!  I’ll be around the office Wednesday afternoons; so if you’re in, say hi. I promise, interns don’t bite!

“A Letter to Our Readers: GV and Me” By Samrawit Zeinu

A Letter to Our Readers: GV and Me

By Samrawit Zeinu

Meet Samrawit Zeinu. A recent GV alumni, a current youth board leader, a recent speaker at a Founders Club meeting and an all-around Global Visionaries enthusiast. As Samrawit prepares for college, she applied for the Gates Scholarship which included an essay she wrote centering around her time with Global Visionaries. With her permission, we decided to share her experiences and words about Global Visionaries with you, the readers. Enjoy!


Question: Discuss your involvement in and contributions to a community near your home, school or elsewhere. Please select an experience different from the one you discussed in the previous question, even if this experience also involved leadership. What did you accomplish? How did this experience influence your goals?                 

Answer: One of life’s greatest moments for me happens when I am giving back to my community.  Through service to others, I am able to give thanks for everything I have been fortunate enough to have.  No one asked my aunt to adopt me.  She believed that taking me in would give me a chance to have a better life. Adopting me was no simple act and she knew she would have to take on a lot of responsibility.  This act was her way of giving back to our family and community.  She believed that if she could help me then one day I would be able to help my family in Ethiopia and my community there.   Growing up in Ethiopia, I had the humble experience of watching compassion take place between strangers.  This experience has motivated me to give back as well.

My sophomore year in high school, a youth leadership program, Global Visionaries (GV) came and presented at my school.  During the presentation the concept that stood out to me was a quote that stated, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together” by Lilla Watson.  I wanted to join the program because of its focus on youth empowerment, leadership opportunities and self-awareness. The program was more than just going to Guatemala and helping others; there was an equal exchange. Having lived in a third world country, I would have hated for someone to see me as a charity case and not someone who can also offer something in return. That was what made me want to be involved with the program.  I have been a part of this program for the past three years. During my first year with the program I met weekly with other high school students to talk about social justice; I volunteered as an intern, and went to Guatemala.

The purpose of Global Visionaries is to have students understand their ecological foot prints and where each of us is currently standing in society through monthly meetings.  I was encouraged to take on challenges to help the environment such as only taking three minute showers, not buying plastic water bottles, and recycling in my household.  It is hard to adapt, but these are changes I continue to make throughout my life.  Another part of the program included doing local community service.  I became a GV intern to give back to the community that was teaching me so much and changing how I viewed my life.  I helped with filing and organizing in the GV office and wrote thank you letters to the donors of the program.

The summer of my sophomore year I went to Guatemala with the same group of students for two weeks.  I had the opportunity to volunteer in construction to help build a local school, reforestation, or in a hospital.  I volunteered at the local hospital because I am interested in medicine. It was not at all what I had expected. Many of the patients permanently live in the hospital because they have been abandoned.  I worked in the different wards which included, babies, young children, adult men and women and the elderly.  In most cases, these patients did not have any visitors.  I will never forget the smiles that were on their faces as we met them and began to do activities with them.  In the young women’s ward, I met a woman named Wendy.  Every day she would stand by the gate and ask the name of the person who wanted to pass through.  If their name was not Wendy then she would not like it. So one day when I was passing by, I told her that my name was Wendy and in an instant, excitement overtook her.  Each day that I visited her, she would talk to me about anything that was on her mind.  Even though the language barrier made it difficult for us to communicate, it did not matter because we found a way to talk by drawing each other pictures. Before I left Guatemala, I confessed that Wendy was not my name and she told me that was okay because she liked my name too.

Through the hospital work team I learned that material wealth is not important.  It is who I am and what my beliefs are that is important.  I believe that words are not always necessary to communicate with others and it is important to not take simple interactions for granted.  The hospital work team also reinforced my goal to become a part of the health care system. The hospital I volunteered in was crowded with patients awaiting a doctor.  I know that I cannot cure every disease and treat every patient but I am willing to try. I just want to live my life accomplishing as much as I can.


Check out a video of Samrawit!

GV Youth Leader Samrawit Zeinu shares her story:

Spring Trip is Right Around the Corner

Spring Trip Group
The Spring Trip participants pose for a group shot at their recent retreat at Camp Sealth.

Global Visionaries’ Spring Trip is coming up soon; April 6th to the 19th to be exact!  This trip is another way that GV accomplishes its mission of empowering future leaders through service and cultural learning.  It offers activities such as coffee farm work, construction building classrooms, working at a local hospital, and Spanish language class.  In order to fully immerse themselves in the culture, the participants will be living with local families, working alongside Guatemalan youth that are a part of GV Guatemala, and hopefully see some historical landmarks.

But this is GV, right?  So, enough about the details and let’s hear from one of our participants: one of today’s global leaders.  I asked participant Fiona Carlile who attends West Seattle High School to share with me some of her thoughts as she prepares to leave for Guatemala.

Q: What are you most excited about for the trip?

Fiona: I’m excited to build relationships with the people at the hospital and with the other people on my work team.  I want to bond with the people there even if I can’t speak Spanish.

Q: What are you nervous about?

Fiona: I’m nervous about the fact that I can’t speak Spanish.  I’m nervous I won’t be able to communicate with my host family and build relationships.

Q: How has the experience been so far?

Fiona: It’s been really good! I’m amazed I’ve really gotten to know everyone on the team and in the GV Family.  I feel a lot better about the trip now that I know everyone.

Small Spring Trip Group
Fiona, first on the left, and her fellow Spring Trip participants prepare for their experience in Guatemala.

There’s one look at what’s racing through a participant’s mind as they prepare to go on the culminating trip to Guatemala.  The changes that have already begun to take form in these young leaders and the things they have learned so far are about to be put to the test during the Spring Trip to Guatemala, and most of them cannot wait.  Let’s continue to support them in their endeavor as the trip gets closer and closer! We are planning on keeping you up to date with the participants while they’re in Guatemala so be sure to visit and bookmark the GV blog or like the GV Facebook page.

Fiesta de Global Visionaries: Igniting Leadership through Community


What is your idea of a global visionary? A leader? A helper? A role model? How about a global thinker – a person leading community building efforts through strong relationships and global citizenship?

A Global Visionary is a young person being the change we all hope to see. 

Global Visionaries is a torch that sparks a fire in all of our youth participants. We ignite their leadership, citizenry and hope for creating better communities for our future.  At GV, we know that each visionary will blaze a trail in their own communities; light fires and empower us all from within.

Keep our leaders’ embers aglow by joining us on May 11, 2013, at the Fiesta de Global Visionaries: Igniting Leadership Through Community, our 12th annual auction and gala. It will be a night to remember as we raise our glasses high, celebrate and cheer on Global Visionaries past, present and future.

Fiesta de Global Visionaries

Igniting Leadership Through Community

Saturday, May 11, 2013

5:30-9 pm

Brockey Center, South Seattle Community College
6000 16th Avenue S.W.
Seattle, WA   98106-1499

Individual tickets are $80.00 – purchase now.


Can’t make it but still want to support GV? Make a gift.


Here’s a sneak peek at some of the fantastic items up on the auction block:

  • a walk-on role in the hit show Nashville, filmed in Tennessee
  • dinner in New York with The Moth storyteller and author Dan Kennedy
  • an authentic crew jacket from the Academy Award-winning film Titanic
  • two fantastic tours of Pike Place Market given by a Market insider mom/son duo: one historic tour for adults including gift certificates to Market shops, and one children’s/teenager Market tour/scavenger hunt thanks to one of our own students
  • A white-water rafting adventure with a unique twist: your intense white-water jumps will be captured by the beautiful photography of one of our youth

Parents, Auction Procurers and other Supporters

Thank you to everyone who met the first procurement deadline of January 31st – we’re getting so excited to reveal all the amazing items as May 11th approaches.  This month’s contribution date is Thursday, February 28.

Support our leaders with meeting each deadline by helping them think of how they can turn their skills and talents into sharable experiences.  Can they knit? Would they be willing to teach a children’s knitting class for 12?  Do they want to organize friends to dedicate one day a month for a year to washing someone’s car?  Got a photographer on your hands? How about offering an in-house family portrait session? Perhaps they’d like to contribute the clothing and accessory line they designed and constructed.  Every talent, skill and commitment of time is worth contributing!  We all have a special something and we encourage our youth to channel that special something into a very special experience for our Fiesta attendees!

A Special Request

We’ve got lots of amazing opportunities out of town, and we’re looking for people to donate frequent flyer miles so we can make sure some of these unique items have round trip flights included.  Please let us know if you can help out with frequent flyer mile donations!

Sponsorships and Advertisements

There are other ways to support our students: sponsorships and advertisements.  Do you know a friend who owns a hair salon who’d like to advertise the Fiesta in their store, or would be interested in sponsoring the event in some way? Let us know!  Have an item to donate?  We’d love everything from desserts and hotel stays to frequent flyer miles and spa packages.

We’re also looking for sponsorships and advertisements.  Know a friend who owns a hair salon? Maybe they’d like to help advertise the event in their store – or sponsor the event in some way. Let us know!  Or maybe they’d like to donate an item or service.  We’re looking for everything from desserts and jewelry, to air miles and spa packages. If you can help with these areas, please contact Cynthia Hope at hope.cyn@gmail.com or Jennifer Johnston (procurement) jcjmail@comcast.net.

If you’d like to volunteer, please contact Amy Maguire at AmyMaguire@global-visionaries.org.

Keep the fire alive – come support our Global Visionaries’ creation of a just and sustainable future!

Samrawit Zeinu — a Global Leader — Thanks You

Dear friends,

I am so inspired by the words of Samrawit Zeinu, a senior at Chief Sealth International High School, who has grown through Global Visionaries for three years.

I am asking you to read about her GV experience in her own words and then partner with us to empower another young leader like Samrawit today by making a gift – whether it is $10 or $100 – to empower a young person today.

Samrawit ZeinuThrough the hospital volunteer work I did, I learned that material wealth is not important.  It is who I am and what my beliefs are that are important.  Before GV, I didn’t have confidence. When I faced problems, I kept to myself.  After GV, not only did I have more confidence in myself but I am also more assertive. I am more open to feedback and I am able to speak about how I feel.  I learned that the way issues turn out depend on my reactions to them.  That made me want to change how I reacted to things.

GV changed my outlook on the world – how I perceive things should be. It hit me at my core.

It has been three years since I completed the [First Year GV Leadership Program] but the values I learned are still strong inside of me. If I catch myself complaining, I remember my brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and my friends in Guatemala don’t have enough.  I now hold myself accountable. Before when I thought about home, Ethiopia, I thought of my family. Now, when I think of my country, I think of its problems on a global scale. As a matter of fact, I think about countries all around the world. GV has made me want to contribute to the country that has made me the person I am. I intend to become a cardiovascular surgeon with Doctors Without Borders. I want to give those countries the voice they deserve.

Global Visionaries, much more than just another cultural immersion program, provides the educational and leadership platform enabling youth to develop the necessary skills to change their own habits and to transform their local and global communities through social entrepreneurship. Please give online now or mail a check to:

Global Visionaries
2524 16th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144

I am so grateful for your continued support. I wish you and your family a joyful 2013.

p.s. you can also see Samrawit’s full speech on video

Thank you,

Christopher Fontana, Executive Director
Global Visionaries

Letter from the Executive Director

Annual Appeal Header


“As someone from the south end of Seattle, getting to know kids from Mercer Island
along with my Cleveland High School peers is a powerful thing.
Stereotypes are destroyed and we’re better for it.”

-16 year-old Global Visionaries leader


Thank you for being a member of the Global Visionaries family. Put another way, if you are reading this, I recognize you as a Global Visionary and I am proud to be part of your family.

GV is a catalyst for uniting youth across economic and racial spectrums. Our programs invite young people to recognize and manifest the global leaders that they are. These “spectrums” rarely interact, let alone solve problems together. However, solving global problems is just one part of our mission at GV.

To accomplish this mission, our youth need your support! I ask you to make a gift now to our year-end annual campaign. By doing so, you are empowering young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future.Please “put in your grain of sand” as Guatemalans say, to enable the GV family to reach our $10,000 Annual Appeal goal.

And here’s the best part – your support will position GV to reach our 2020 Vision:

GV will serve 20% of Seattle public high school youth by 2020

That’s 2,543 youth impacted each year through peer-to-peer education.

I am excited to share with you Global Visionaries’ 2012 Annual Report. This year, we have gone paperless for both our Annual Report and Annual Appeal. I invite you to enjoy the report and to celebrate our many accomplishments.

We thank Spring 2013 participant Fiona Carlile’s fabulous father, Dave Carlile, and his team at Sublime Media, Jeanne Buchler, Ryan Moeck, Corey Campbell, Kirk Kriskovich, David Linder, and Liisa McConnell for beautifully crafting and designing our 2012 Annual Report.

Give to Global Visionaries TODAY to empower young global leaders.

I wish you and your family the very best this holiday season. We look forward to collaborating with you again in 2013!

Grateful for your endless support,

Christopher Fontana
Executive Director, Global Visionaries

The Spark of Social Justice

By Noel Chapman

photo (2)

The last thing I would have wanted to do in high school was sign up to sit in a small room for two hours every Monday night and talk about heavy subjects like sexism, racism, or ageism.  However, this is exactly what the Pro Justice Team at Global Visionaries has committed to doing.

The Pro Justice Team, or PJ as it’s normally called, consists of eight high school students from a variety of schools.  PJ is a part of Youth Board, a program for second year students who have decided to continue to be a part of GV in different leadership positions.

PJ focuses on learning about and educating others regarding “cycles of oppression and privilege” as Tiffany Lumley, Assistant Program Manager, explained.  “They focus on a different ‘ism’ each week and break it down.  They learn ways they can fight that ‘ism’.”

I had to check this out and see for myself what it was that these high school students are learning about each week, and I was blown away by the material that they were actively paying attention to.

This past week PJ had Anita Nath come in and talk to them about the work that she is doing with Unite Here, an organization that helps hospitality employees find a voice.  Anita herself is a boycott organizer and is working with the Hilton and the Edgewater boycotts and marches.

I was stunned to hear these high school students making connections between this local issue and concepts like racism, sexism, and imperialism.  I mean, imperialism?!  Isn’t that something we all learned about once in history and quickly forgot after the quiz?  Apparently not to these PJ members; they were keenly listening to every word that Anita was saying.  I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they were identifying how the abstract “isms” that they have been learning about were actually happening in their own city.

The PJ members learn a language they can use to describe social justice issues around the world.  This is a language I did not come into contact with until college.  They are able to name specific forms of oppression, utilizing labels to take the first step in social change.  To read more about the use of language and naming see former GV intern Tim Takechi’s article.

Not only is the PJ team provided with this terminology, but they are given the opportunity to pass it on to the first year participants.  PJ is in charge of one culture night of the year in which they facilitate the sort of discussions and learning that they have been exposed to the whole year.  They also are in charge of a section of the first year participant’s retreat which has been said to be one of the most powerful parts.

If you want to learn more about what the PJ Team is or get involved in what they are doing you can check out Anita Nath’s work with Unite Here at www.unitehere8.org.  Unite Here even has a Facebook page under the name Unite Here! Local 8 where you can stay updated on the events that are happening in Seattle.