Monday, October 15, 2012

Every Learner Should Experience GIN

This past weekend Graded hosted the Global Issues Network Conference of the Americas and it was an amazing learning event for all involved. The planning committee of Leo Sabo, Edu Ramos, Eliana Keinan, Carlos Krell, Pollo Suarez, Jennifer Gadsen-Carpenter, Geoff Carpenter,  Caitlin LaFrance, Mark Engstrom, and David Bair has been working for over a year to organize this event. Over 300 students participated from 27 different schools and another 70 of Graded's students volunteered to support the event. Daisy Krell, Lika Kishino and Aleandro Oliveira also provided valuable support. The team built the theme around Wangari Waathai's story "I will be a humingbird" and each participant was asked, "What's your drop?"

GIN takes community service and lessons on sustainability to a new level. A level which our students certainly deserve and need for today's world. It's not about holding bake sales to raise money for community service, it's about looking at how local groups can tackle issues related to J.F. Rischard's book, "High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them." It's clear that everyone involved in this weekend's conference left inspired by the learning and with hope for the future. GIN is an event for all ages.

So, what are some of the takeaways for students this weekend?

Students learned from their peers through team workshops. These workshops provided participants with ideas and solutions that can be taken back to their schools. Some of the examples included:

  • working to eradicate lion fish from the Dominican Republic reefs
  • eliminating disposable plastic on various campuses
  • reforestation projects in Quito, Ecuador
  • organizing and running summer camps for children
  • promoting peace at UAS
  • creating beautiful hanging gardens using plastic bottles
You can view all of the videos at the GIN of the Americas Youtube site. 

The students also had access to passionate professionals who have decided to dedicate their lives to improving the world. While typically a keynote speaker will come to a conference, speak and then leave, at GIN, the speakers are accessible to students throughout the conference. Imagine being able to speak to Mike Furdyck, John Liu, Rob Burroughs, Linda Ragsdale, Lori Kumler, Sammie Raynor and Bruno Massote. All are excellent role models for our students because they are not just talking about addressing sustainability issues, they are taking action. Here are just a few of the interesting tidbits that students may have 

Linda Ragsdale
  • Mike Furdyck decided to start TakingITGlobal, a not for profit organization designed to connect youth from around the world instead of seeking fortune as an entrepreneur in the information technology industry.
  • Linda Ragsdale promotes peace and the idea that we all have a choice how how we act. This after being shot in the terrorist attack in Mumbai.
  • Lori Kumler shared information on Brazil's water policy and how it is helping clean up rivers.
  • John Liu who is working with governments to rehabilitate ecosystems gave us all a wake up call to act and change our ways.
  • Rob Burroughs decided to use his passion, football, to stop the spread of HIV in Africa through Grass Root Soccer. Rob is currently a senior in college but he is a alumni of GIN conferences.
  • While students can certainly collect waste for Terracycle, Bruno Massote showed them that his company is using sophisticated technology to reuse and recycle very hard to recycle trash. 
  • Sammie Raynor showed how young people were able to create, Lumana, a micro-finance corporation that helps small business owners in Ghana succeed.
Lori Kumler

Mike Furdyck


  1. Congratulations on a hugely successful event! :)

    Cheers, Michael

  2. Michael, Thanks for participating and providing our students with ideas for how they can make their mark on the world.


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