The 4th annual Greenheart Global Leaders Conference (GGLC), held July 30th through August 4th, 2017, at George Washington University in Washington D.C., brought to life the mission of Greenheart International—connecting people and planet to create global leaders through personal development, volunteer service, environmentalism, fair trade, and cultural exchange.
Focusing on the areas of environmental sustainability, international mission-driven business and social justice, the intensive weeklong conference featured:
Seven of those in attendance at the GGLC were star Greenheart Travel alums, representing not only various Greenheart Travel programs, but also adding their unique perspectives to the overall mix of attendees from all over the globe. The opportunity to engage with alumni across all of Greenheart International’s branches truly reflected our organization’s goal of facilitating global-mindedness.
“…While we all represented different parts of the world, and had differing life experiences, we could all find one common ground: a desire to make great changes in our communities and in the global community…” – Afia Yeboah
Chiara Burns aspires to open an interfaith and cultural exchange center in the future, and has recently started her own business upon returning to the United States after teaching English in Thailand.
Travel (and my experience teaching in Thailand in particular) taught me that no matter who or where we are in the world, our differences are opportunities to learn and grow, and our similarities are precisely the underpinnings that make us human.
One reason Chiara attended the GGLC was to see how entrepreneurial types, like herself, can strike a balance between ambition and social responsibility.
Check out more of Chiara’s thoughts in her blogs for Greenheart Travel, especially on ways to overcome culture shock!
As a resident of Flint, Michigan, Danielle Wray would like to take what she gained at the GGLC to further help her own community in need—a city burdened by a water crisis and the aftermath of an economic depression. She’s currently getting her Masters in Social Work, and seeks to advocate for policy changes both locally and nationally.
Afia Yeboah was honored to present at the Department of State during the GGLC. She touched on aspects of her upbringing in Baltimore, and how teaching through Greenheart Travel programs in both China and Colombia has helped fuel her passion to continue working within inner city schools.
Being part of Greenheart has restored my faith in the state of international affairs in this world; it’s reassured me that there are good people EVERYWHERE, who are ready and willing to bring about change and to do so by leading with love.
Afia is all about planting the seeds of transformation and encouraging joy in learning. She willingly shares the skills she’s gained in an effort to help others advance, and serves as an international role model of what an African-American woman embodies.
Dive in to more of Afia’s travel adventures through her blog posts!
Lindsay Kurz spent three months interning at Rescue Paws, our stray dog rescue project in Thailand.
During my time at the animal shelter/clinic, I gave Thai street dogs as much help and care as I possibly could. In return, Thailand gave me lifelong friendships and memories that have forever changed my outlook on our beautiful planet.
Lindsay hopes to create more after school tutoring opportunities at underprivileged schools in her hometown of Indianapolis, combining her background in education and interest in social justice—the track she chose to focus on at the GGLC.
Kevin Manning aims to be a global leader in education, and found the GGLC to be an eye-opening, intercultural experience.
It was extremely interesting to meet people from such different cultures and backgrounds. This was definitely the craziest group of people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Kevin currently teaches at a secondary school in Colombia through Greenheart Travel—a journey that has been equally challenging and enlightening. He intends to develop a program, which would allow students in disadvantaged public schools to investigate potential career paths, once he returns to Ireland.
Sandy Joseph is no stranger to cultural integration. She takes pride in her Haitian roots and has mentored immigrant and international college students in Boston. Her pursuit of global relations led her to teaching English in Italy with Greenheart Travel.
From my Teach in Italy experience, I learned I could achieve more than I had previously thought. I do not usually think of myself as an adventurous person, but traveling around Europe showed me otherwise.
Sandy plans to take what she’s learned about leading diverse groups of people from her time at the GGLC, and continue helping youth from underrepresented communities, primarily in urban settings, feel empowered through education.
Amulya Maya is passionate about international development and sustainability, and enjoys working with different cultures and governments. She is teaching English in Colombia with Greenheart Travel, and thoroughly enjoys spending time with the people she has met while there.
Through moments such as learning how to make Indian butter chicken in a small town like Tunja, Sunday morning Zumba classes with mums, afterschool English clubs with my students, and playing soccer with them during breaks, I am discovering happiness. Thanks to these people and moments, I have found a home away from home.
One of the main reasons Amulya wanted be part of the GGLC was to gain inspiration to continue developing her women’s empowerment project in Colombia, an initiative she recently received a Greenheart Service Grant to help fund.
Learn more about how you can apply for a Greenheart Grant, too!
What started as 11 attendees from nine countries in 2014, has grown into something much more. These influential Greenheart ambassadors, now represented by 37 more ambassadors from 20 countries, are part of a larger network of global leaders working together to make a difference and create positive change.
Their inspiring stories show that their is no one path to making an important impact in our own communities, and when those paths lead to cooperating with one another, amazing things can be accomplished.