Contact Steve - firstname.lastname@example.org 612.436.8291
Steve's professional focus has always revolved around helping public and non-profit organizations deliver more value for those they serve, and he is excited to bring that passion and experience to his role as GCN's new executive director. He did this for 14 years as a partner in The Public Strategies Group - a consulting firm dedicated to helping government agencies reinvent themselves into customer-focused, results-driven enterprises. More recently, he helped guide Minnesota's AmeriCorps national service programs to become more outcome-driven through his work at ServeMinnesota, including serving as the founding executive director at Minnesota Education Corps - home of the Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps.
On a personal front, Steve and his family have embraced cross-cultural immersion. Both of his sons attended a Spanish-language immersion elementary school from Kindergarten to 5th grade. As part of that experience, Steve's family hosted full-year teaching interns from Spanish-speaking countries (Peru, Colombia, and Spain) for four years. They also hosted a high-school student from the United Arab Emirates for a month during the summer of 2010. Most significantly, Steve and his wife (a family practice doctor) took a year-long service sabbatical in Costa Rica in 2007-08, volunteering in a free pediatric clinic outside San Jose while their sons attended a local school.
Steve also volunteers his time in his own community including running the twice-a-year book fair at his son's school, doing spring clean-up in St. Paul city parks, and chairing the steering committee for the local Boy Scout troop.
All of these immersion and service experiences have not only produced great friendships and wonderful memories, they have also reinforced Steve's belief that we will reach better, more sustainable solutions to our global challenges if more of us spend time living among and learning from individuals and communities unlike ourselves.
Contact Linda - email@example.com 612.436.8271
Sensing that she was not complete, she started traveling at age 16 in search of something that might make her whole. What began as a senior class eco-tour to Dominica has turned into Linda's life work as an advocate for respectful cross-cultural encounters and responsible travel.
In 1996 Linda went to Nicaragua as an international observer of the presidential elections. She studied abroad in Ecuador on the University of MN's Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID) program for one year. Passionate about community development and motivated by GCN's mission, Linda led her first GCN team to Llanos de Morales, Guatemala in 1999.
In 2001, Linda and her husband put their six month old daughter in a front-pack and ventured off to Santiago, Chile. Linda studied at the University of Chile in the Masters of Arts in International Studies program. In conjunction with the UN's Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (CEPAL), she completed her thesis entitled, "La relacion entre el ecoturismo y sus impactos sociales: El caso de las poblaciones locales en Chile y Ecuador." Linda and her family (+ another one on the way) returned to the states after receiving her MA in 2003.
Most recently, Linda had been serving the Twin Cities immigrant community as an ESL instructor and curriculum writer at the Lincoln Adult Education Center in Minneapolis, MN.
Moreover, she has worked in management, development, administrative and research positions for the Institute for New Americans, Seward Community Co-op, Trece Lunas Arts Collective, Rethinking Tourism Project, World Bank Project SICA, Augsburg College's Center for Global Education, and the US Dept. of Justice.
She has taught Spanish for managers and workplace English at area restaurants. Linda volunteers her time as a Junior Girl Scout Troop Leader and is also the Lake Nokomis Service Unit Manager for Girl Scouts River Valleys. She also volunteers for her son's school carnival at Dowling Urban Environmental School and is the co-chair for her neighborhood's annual National Night Out Celebration. Linda holds a BA in International Relations and Spanish from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN.
"I still imagine a million and one places I'd like to visit, but even more people I'd love to meet."
Contact Laura - firstname.lastname@example.org 612.436.8274
She comes to GCN excited to support the organization's mission, continue to learn more about indigenous cultures and participate in international community service. Laura holds a dual B.A. degree in International Relations and Spanish/Latin American studies and a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University in Washington, D.C.
Laura grew up speaking Spanish and loving Latin America, thanks to her summers spent at Concordia Language Villages as a student and later a total of 10 years as a counselor. In 2006 she traveled to Peru with the Fulbright Program to study the impact of political decentralization policies on marginalized rural indigenous communities in the southern department Puno. Her research focused on the areas of health, education, and development needs in Aymara communities of extreme poverty living over 14,000 above sea level. Laura also worked on a project with rural farmers to promote organic quinoa production and access to the local restaurant market. She volunteered with a local tour agency to develop a youth literacy volunteer curriculum on the island communities of Lake Titicaca. Later, she spent time in Lima, expanding her knowledge of travel resources and non-profit organizations in other regions of Peru and nearby countries as the assistant manager of South American Explorers Clubhouse.
Outside of GCN, Laura and her husband volunteer their time by hosting State Department guests for the Minnesota International Center.
Contact Gaston- email@example.com 612.436.8293
After finishing his studies in Administrative and International Law, and having developed an interesting career in the Ministry of Economy and the UNDP program in Argentina, Gastón traveled to Spain where, unexpectedly, he decided to pursue a Master's degree in Public Administration at the University of Alcalá. There, he obtained a Diploma in International Cooperation at the Complutense University and began the doctorate program in Applied Economics.
Upon reaching candidacy, Gastón decided to travel to the Dominican Republic to work at a socio-juridical research foundation and participate in projects to improve the conditions of Haitian workers in the sugar industry.
This experience ignited a passion for the Dominican Republic, a country with which he has established lasting and meaningful ties with a desire to improve development projects and the work of nonprofits.
As a result of these experiences and expertise, Gastón is 1 of 20 selected participants -out of nearly a 1,000 applicants- of the 2011 Atlas Corps Program that provides specialized training for leaders of nonprofits in the United States, through which he will be serving both Global Citizens Network and Intercultural Student Experiences.
Contact Jenn - firstname.lastname@example.org 612.436.8280
Jenn has worked for five years in fundraising, building grassroots support, and the general administrative functions with the Fund For Public Interest Research. She helped build a groundswell of community grassroots support on behalf various non- profits that focus environmental advocacy, consumer protection, and human rights (Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Human Rights Campaign, Amnesty International, the state PIRGs, and USPIRG.) Most recently, she gained three years of experience working in the field of wind power development as a GIS specialist and administrative assistant.
Jenn is so excited to be on GCN’s team because of the mission. She strongly believes in the building of cross-cultural partnerships that create a global community, and feels it is a great fit for both her talents and passion.
Jenn rides bikes as transportation and occasionally for sport, but it also just helps keep a big, goofy grin on her face. She went car-free over ten years ago and never looked back. She loves riding, no matter the weather. In fact, riding year-round is what has helped her to truly appreciate the beauty of winter in Minnesota.
Contact Molly - email@example.com 612.436.8273
Molly graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a bachelor's degree in Sociology, Women's Studies and Spanish. She had her first international living experience in Costa Rica during her Junior year of college, where she completed an internship through the Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS). Her work focused on AIDS/HIV education and prevention within the Nicaraguan border communities. Living with a host family that welcomed her with open arms changed Molly's life and ignited her commitment to the field of international education. After graduation, Molly joined a professor and Fulbright recipient on an adventure in Venezuela. There, she studied the feminist movement alongside a VENUSA student from Minnesota and joined a movement to get guns off the streets. Molly also brought her A game to the country and worked as an assistant basketball coach for elementary aged children.
Her experiences living abroad, led her to seek a master's degree in International Education through the School for International Training Graduate Institute, which she will complete in 2013. She is very excited work on the GCN/ISE team because it aligns with her values and personal mission to promote international education and change lives through building relationships with people around world.
Contact Filiberto - firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.436.8275
Filiberto is a PhD candidate in contemporary Guatemalan history and comes to us from sunny Southern California where he was also a trade unionist at UCSB. He is so compelled by the mission of GCN that he was willing to leave the temperate climate of Los Angeles and brave the snow banks and cold of the beautiful Twin Cities. He has travelled extensively throughout Latin America to visit family in Mexico but also for research. His first international experience was in Australia when he was 17 and propelled his interest in intercultural learning. During his time at Pitzer College he participated in a study abroad in Venezuela out of a curiosity over the Chavez administration. He then participated in human rights delegations to Chiapas Mexico where his interest and commitment to indigenous communities began. At Pitzer, Filiberto worked closely with the External Studies office to evaluate program offerings and consider new program sites to support Pitzer’s central mission of intercultural learning.
Upon graduating from Pitzer College he spent a year abroad on a Watson Fellowship studying post conflict civil society in Guatemala, South Africa and Northern Ireland. It was in his six months in Guatemala that he encountered a group illegally squatting land in protest of the disappearance of their political leader. Sixteen members of the 2,000 strong Nueva Linda community were massacred by government security forces. In trying to understand the dynamics that led to the massacre Filiberto created a documentary film and dedicates his PhD work to understanding conflict in Guatemala.
Filiberto is excited to live and work in the twin cities and welcomes any and all suggestions for fun things to do.
Celia is joining the GCN team as an intern during her last semester as an undergraduate at Metropolitan State University. In May, she will receive her bachelor’s degree in Technical Communications and Professional Writing with a minor in Research and Information Studies.
Celia was introduced to cross-cultural immersion experiences early in life, attending a K-5 Spanish immersion school. Her family hosted two teaching assistants from Mexico and built long-lasting friendships that continue to this day. Before high school she had the opportunity to travel to Spain and spent two weeks traveling the country and living with a host family. Ever since her trip abroad, she has had a passion for traveling and new adventures!
Outside of school, you can find Celia reading, quilting or playing with her cat, Dennis.
If you want to expose your children to other cultures in a way that is more real, in-depth, personable and memorable – by working in community with them rather than just traveling – this is the way to really learn about another culture.
We were exposed to something few of us get to experience. Most often we simply drive through communities. This time we got to meet and really get to know people, and they were so generous. We got far more out of the experience than we gave.
Kathy P., Rock Point, AZ (family of 4)
This was our best family vacation and a phenomenal experience. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to do this with my children. My children realized that although the people in the community we visited didn't have a lot of material possessions, they had some things we didn't. The community members were funny, loving and generous.
The group experience was what made it so great. The team leaders were remarkable. They never passed judgment and treated my children like full members of the group, so they acted that way. The experience made them more confident and more excited about taking other travel adventures.
Marcy G., Xiloxochico, Mexico (family of 6)
Volunteering in Tanzania was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes not only to the needs of our fellow global citizens, but also to the lovable and exhilarating culture of Bukoba.
Megan age 19, Bukoba, Tanzania
GCN wasn't just a volunteer trip but instead a life altering two weeks that helped me discover myself.
Shannon age 15, Bukoba, Tanzania
Our GCN sponsored program in Tanzania wasn't a vacation but rather a deeply moving experience our family will cherish for a lifetime.
Sean, Dad, Bukoba, Tanzania
Working side by side with my husband and children, helping, reaching out, and learning from people in a culture vastly different from our own together as a family was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. We are already planning our next volunteer vacation.
Karen, Mom, Bukoba, Tanzania
This experience changed all of us. Nothing can compare with it. It's made my kids into global citizens. Before we left for Kenya, I was concerned that my kids were getting spoiled, but the trip showed them how happy people were, even though they had so little by comparison. They also discovered how much more important it is to have experiences instead of things.
My kids are so mature now as a result of the trip. They have a new and broader world view.
Nancy F., Maili Tatu, Africa (3 time repeat participant with 2 kids)
I took each of my two granddaughters on a trip when they turned 13, as a rite of passage. It was tremendously bonding for us. It deepened our love and our relationship, but it also sensitized the girls to different cultures and helped them gain an understanding and empathy for others.
One of my granddaughters was extremely wary. She said, "I don't know how to do this and I don't want to be there." But by the end, she was begging to stay. She had formed some amazing friendships. It was quite a transition.
My advice to families considering this kind of trip is this: Even if you have some hesitation, trust that the experience will be transforming for your child and for your relationship with your child. My two granddaughters are totally different personalities, but the same positive transformation happened for both.
We had so many one-on-one reflective conversations about what we were experiencing and learning. It's a different and more intimate way of being with children.
The team members were incredibly kind to my teenagers. The leaders were such good role models -- caring and inclusive.
Meg V., Rock Point, AZ 2003; La Push, WA 2007
The truly amazing thing about this community is the pride, character, and sense of respect you feel being with them. They carry themselves with esteem. Being with them, you know they will not only survive, they will succeed, collectively using the resources available to them for the good of the whole.
Joyce, Pennsylvania; Kenya Participant
With the beauty, the simplicity, the strength and comedy of this place, each day becomes an adventure to be anticipated.
Gladys, Ontario; Kenya Participants
I learned much more that GCN is about the process of building long term relationships with communities, not necessarily about the process of "building!" It was truly priceless to be allowed to be on the 'construction site' with a bunch of indigenous people in Mexico. Tourists DO NOT get that opportunity-nor should they. We all believed WE TRULY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Diana, Colorado; Two-time Mexico Participant
I have just this last hour arrived back home after what can only be described as an experience of a lifetime, the people at Jampaling were wonderful and I return with a feeling of accomplishment, and everlasting respect for a group of people who work so hard with such limited resources to achieve their goals.
David, Ontario; Nepal Participant
As a GCN volunteer you expect to fill the role of giver, giving of your time, efforts, money and heart. During a recent trip to Nepal, I felt more like a wide receiver for a pro football team, with countless blessings being passed my way! It started before I even left with support from a bunch of people, some of whom I don't even know, my sponsors through fundraising.
Cherril, New York; Nepal Participant
A positive growing experience that will unfold as time moves on. I do appreciate the warm hospitality of the local Navajo people and thank them for all they did to open our eyes and heart to their life, culture and values.
Jerry, Minnesota; New Mexico volunteer
It has become the most meaningful thing I've experienced in my life. It was more than a casual cultural exchange. I never felt like a tourist - I felt like I was coming home.
Ted, New York; New Mexico volunteer
The trip to Rock Point was a wonderful experience for me. Our team really "connected" and are talking among ourselves of doing other trips together! We all agreed we haven't laughed and sung songs like we did there for a long time. The Navajo people are wonderful, and we were able to share songs, dinner with them and they with us. We were able to complete the projects they had for us and still have lots of time for culture exchange.
Lynne, California; Arizona volunteer
My goal was to get lifted out of my personal and professional rut, to have my head and heart spun around and to land more solid and grounded. For the most part this happened.
Nancy, Vermont; Guatemala volunteer
Because of a scholarship provided by Global Citizens Network, I was able to spend two weeks volunteering in Guatemala, in a rural village called Llanos de Morales. This was my second trip volunteering in a developing nation (I went to Nicaragua two years ago), but my first time working with GCN. My experience was unforgettable and I would recommend it to anyone!
The best thing about the trip was getting really close-up pictures of horses. The hardest part of the trip was leaving Chirapa
Tana-Isabel, Washington; Peru youth volunteer
I wanted to be "in the middle of nowhere" and enjoy it as well as learn about the Quechua culture. My comfort zone has expanded and I enjoyed getting to know the people!
The most inspiring moment for me was receiving a genuine Quechuan percussion instrument as a gift from the community. It showed me that the community valued my presence and it is something that I will never forget.
David, University of Minnesota Participant; Peru volunteer
As I zipped into my sleeping bag, I reflected on this totally crazy, awesome experience, and in many ways wondered how (why) we are having so much fun. This is -- by far -- the best trip we have ever taken as a family and perhaps even my best trip ever. Everything is an adventure. We are living it rather than observing it. Amy S., Chicago, Guatemala volunteer