Welcome to the Global Visionaries “Alumni Hub” – a place to stay connected with fellow alumni and get involved with GV!
Each year Global Visionaries builds schools and community spaces for villages that are in short supply of public facilities. To do this, the team starts with the foundation and builds up. The same happens with the youth who participate in Global Visionaries.
Far more than construction volunteers, the youth in our program learn the foundations that allow them to grow into responsible and compassionate people. This foundation allows youth to build their lives as agents for social justice, cross-cultural understanding, and environmental sustainability.
With this in mind, we wanted to check back in with a few of our alumni and see the kinds of lives built with Global Visionaries as part of their foundation.
Cohort Years: 2014-2016 | Current Role: Nonprofit Branch Manager | 3 Words to Describe GV: Empowering, Leadership, Compassion
Richard Wang best summarizes his time in Global Visionaries with one word: Family. After working hours under less-than-ideal weather conditions besides his Global Visionaries peers, Richard realized he had created a strong bond of fellowship. Not only did he learn about the world, its injustices, and what he can do to affect positive change, but Richard also learned about tolerance and acceptance. He remembers looking around a large Global Visionaries circle and seeing only love in everyone’s eyes – no judgement, only continual acceptance.
Richard is now a sophomore at the University of Washington, pursuing Electrical Engineering and Pre-medicine. He is also the branch manager of the Social Diversity for Children with Disabilities, a Seattle-based nonprofit. Richard credits Global Visionaries for encouraging him to join the organization, saying he wanted to continue giving back to the community after his time in the program. This passion was awakened as part of his volunteer work in Guatemala. Richard visited a hospital where children with disabilities were left behind. His initial reaction was fear, fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. However, Richard pushed through when he made eye contact with a particular patient. Against his fear-riddled intuition, he went over to greet her. Upon a quick pat of the hand, Richard knew his doubts were baseless. The patient couldn’t talk, but her smile said it all. Global Visionaries taught Richard how to push passed his fears and break down internal barriers to achieve true interpersonal connections.
Cohort Year: 2009 | Current Role: International Education Program Associate | 3 Words to Describe GV: Stimulating, Empowering, Challenging
Haley Lepp joined Global Visionaries as a sophomore in high school with no idea what to expect. She was thrown into a world of new experiences and new people. After months of fundraising and planning she was thrown into another new experience – travelling abroad. While staying with her host family in Guatemala, Haley was surprised at how they disposed of trash. The norm was to dump it in the street or take it to visible dump sites. Before then, she had never considered where her own waste went when she was home. Global Visionaries taught Haley the importance of self-reflection and when she returned from her trip, Haley made an effort to eliminate plastic waste in her daily life.
The impact of the trip to Guatemala stayed with Haley long after Global Visionaries. She studied international affairs in college, where she participated in multiple international exchange programs, abroad and in the United States. Even now, Haley continues to be inspired by the cross-cultural learning and activities she found at Global Visionaries. After college, she was accepted to a fellowship with the U.S. Department of Education and moved to Jordan. While there, she helped develop youth leadership programs for local displaced youth. Now, Hayley is the program associate for an international education nonprofit. She’s currently working on an online peacebuilding and exchange program between 200 U.S. and Iraqi teenagers.
Cohort Years: 2008, 2010 | Current Role: International Policy Worker | 3 Words to Describe GV: Foundational, Empowering, Joy
Phillip Bruan’s time with Global Visionaries guided him towards his true passion – travelling and helping those less fortunate than him. During Phillip’s visit to Guatemala, his home-stay mother taught him about compassion and friendship. He remembers the care she put into their home-cooked meals and how lovingly she would response to his goofy gestures and broken Spanish in an effort to communicate. These awkward, but enjoyable moments showed Phillip that seeking the path less traveled and getting out of his comfort zone can fulfill life in a way that is unique and vibrant.
Phillip is now traveling the world with a goal to visit 30 countries before the end of next year. When he’s not traveling he’s in the Philippines, aiming to build a platform to speak on behalf of disadvantaged youth in the country. Before pursuing his dreams of travelling, Phillip studied in law school. He soon realized that he lacked a sense of fulfillment. Phillip’s time at Global Visionaries sparked a sense of global citizenship. His time with program opened his eyes to his privilege as a U.S. citizen and college graduate. He found that it is necessary to engage in constructive conversations to tear walls down and help communities overcome systematic oppression. Phillip’s still using that awareness and passion today in his efforts to give a voice to orphaned and vulnerable children in the northern provinces of the Philippines.
Cohort: 2007 | Current Role: Physical Therapy Doctorate Student | 3 Words to Describe GV: Hands-on, Leadership, Inspirational
When Sara Schendel participated in Global Visionaries, she got an opportunity not many other high school students had – the opportunity to travel abroad. Not only did this allow Sara to see a world entirely different than her own, but it also taught her how to be fearless. During her time in Guatemala, Sara learned that you can always find a connection with someone, regardless if they come from a different background or even if they speak a different language. Sara is still thankful that Global Visionaries opened her up to firsthand experience that went far beyond what any textbook could have taught her.
Sara is now a graduate student working towards a doctorate degree in physical therapy. She plans to donate her knowledge and skills to countries who are lacking funds for basic healthcare. During her trip to Guatemala, Sara spent a lot of her time volunteering in the local hospital. While there, she saw many patients whose disabilities would have been minimal if they had access to physical therapy. However, basic healthcare isn’t accessible to many Guatemalans – a cultural difference that hadn’t occurred to Sara prior to her visit. Without the means to tend to their ailments, the patients’ conditions worsened to the point that they required a hospital visit. Sara credits her time with Global Visionaries as helping to shape her career choice of physical therapy.
Cohort: 2009-10 | Current Role: Policy Coordinator | 3 Words to Describe GV: Connection, Leadership, Transformation
Molly Freed went into Global Visionaries as many participants do – excited to meet new people and gain leadership skills. Not only did the program exceed those expectations, but she found a passion that would follow her into adulthood and shape her career. In high school, Molly help create the World Water Week, which had 300 students teaming up with international teachers and a nonprofit to highlight the significance of being a conscientious water user.
Molly is now a Policy Coordinator who works in water resource management and still plans events like World Water Week, but now on a much larger scale. This year Molly helped plan the Net Positive Water Summit, an international one-night event that invited participants to take a deep dive into practical and sustainable water solutions. It was one of Global Visionaries’ Culture Nights made her realize the importance of water conservation. Participants sat in a circle with their eyes closed, listening to the youth leader. The leader poured popcorn kernels into a metal pot. Each kernel equaled one gallon of water. The first pour represented the amount of water the average resident of Antigua used in one week, the second a resident in Seattle. The difference was a smattering of clangs versus an avalanche that lasted for minutes. It aroused a sense of duty in Molly and she’s followed that feeling ever since.
Cohort Year: 2007 | Current Role: Financial Analyst | 3 Words to Describe GV: Civic Duty, Impactful, Globally Aware
Greg Wilson entered high school in 2007 as many other young men do – excited about sports. Only a year later, Greg’s outlook on life changed forever. After the completion of the year-long program with Global Visionaries and the capstone trip to Guatemala, Greg’s worldview blossomed. Instead of caring about the latest pair of Jordan basketball shoes, he realized his passion had shifted to civic duty, empathy, and leadership.
Growing up as a racially mixed man, Greg greatly appreciates the emphasis Global Visionaries puts on racial and socioeconomic diversity. He credits that emphasis to choosing a career with a company who shares similar values. Greg is now a successful financial analyst in Seattle and he still carries the values he learned through Global Visionaries with him every day. Global Visionaries taught him how to be confident, decisive, and patient.