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Stories From a Connected World

A blog about the experience and ideas of One World Youth Project.


Catalina Talero named Executive Director of One World Youth Project

Talero joins OWYP as it celebrates its first decade of service advancing cross-cultural understanding

Washington D.C., November 5, 2014 — One World Youth Project (OWYP) today announced that Catalina Talero has been named Executive Director. Talero comes to lead OWYP with nearly fifteen years of education management experience as the non-profit organization concludes a two-year program development period at the El-Hibri Foundation (EHF) and its tenth year as an organization.

EHF anticipates awarding OWYP a major three-year anchor grant, starting in 2015, to facilitate the non-profit’s return to independent 501(c)3 status.  EHF President Judy Barsalou welcomed Talero, saying “Catalina’s years of relevant experience and multi-cultural background prepare her superbly to take on this leadership role.”

Talero succeeds OWYP Founder Jess Rimington, who served as Executive Director from 2004 to 2012 and now sits on the OWYP Board of Directors. In its first decade, OWYP evolved from being an all-volunteer effort to operations run by eight full-time staff delivering a two-pronged global education program offered jointly to universities and middle schools in five countries. After leading OWYP’s successful acquisition by the El-Hibri Foundation, Rimington transitioned in 2013. “During the last two years we’ve seen our impact deepened as our programs strengthened,” stated Rimington. “After this important development phase, I couldn’t be more excited for Catalina to apply her wealth of experience to lead One World Youth Project into its next decade!”

“We are thrilled to have Catalina now lead the OWYP team” said Cady Voge, a senior staff member since founding in 2004. Voge was a programmatic leader in the transition of OWYP, whose work has included launching OWYP’s newest curriculum, innovating training models and expanding OWYP’s university offerings. Mychal Estrada, also a Program Manager at OWYP during this organizational turning point, added, “As we transition into this important stage in OWYP’s history, I know our team will continue to find innovative ways to fulfill our mission and vision while maintaining the ‘special sauce’ that makes us truly unique. It’s an exciting time for all of us.”

Talero joins OWYP with a decade of experience in educational program development and evaluation and 12 years of competitive fundraising. She earned a master’s degree from George Washington University in Human/Organization Development with a focus on International Education, and an Honors Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Her graduate honors include the Angeline Anderson Fellowship and a 2009-2010 Fulbright in international civic education program development, funding and evaluation (Colombia).

Before joining OWYP, Talero served as the Director for the Washington, DC division of Global Kids, Inc. In this role, she more than doubled their reach in the DC area, revitalized their Advisory Board and aligned their curriculum with Common Core state curriculum standards. Previously, Talero worked for the United States Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education: International and Foreign Language Division. Her Title VI portfolio included National Resource Centers (NRC) and Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) programs in Latin America and Canada. Talero specializes in strategic funding, evaluation, multi-lingual survey design and information assurance.

“Joining OWYP this fall truly feels like a homecoming for me,” says Talero. “Celebrating the institution’s first decade as a member of this outstanding team is a privilege and an honor. Together, we’re building the groundwork for the next ten years and beyond.”

One World Youth Project prepares a new generation of empowered global citizens by engaging university and middle school students in cross-cultural interactions with students abroad. Guided by curricula developed to encourage empathy and action amongst youth, OWYP develops the skills needed to address world challenges.



Project Ambassadors in Islamabad Reflect on Their First Lessons in the Classroom

The Project Ambassadors from NUST in Islamabad, Pakistan reflect on their first lessons in the classroom during the Fall 2013 Semester. The Project Ambassadors visit Islamabad Model College for Boys weekly.

Written by Nauman Muhammad Khan, Maria Riaz, Waheed Ud Din Siddiqui, and Syed Maaz Imran

Having worked with OWYP as a project ambassador for over six months I have had tons of amazing experiences. Last month we started out giving facilitation lessons to seventh grade students at Islamabad Model College for Boys, G-10/4. As a PA, I was assigned to tell the students about OWYP and facilitate their learning by teaching them the OWYP curriculum. The first lesson was of course about getting to know each other.

But it wasn’t just the children that were new; it was a new experience for me too in the powerful role of being a facilitator and the effort to do justice with it. I found the children to be extremely excited about us. The best part I like about every lesson is the interactive part. Every OWYP lesson has some kind of interactive activity, a point where you have to let the children suggest you possible answers or start discussions or play games like for the introduction part we played the “game of names”.

Pair 1 Cultural Exchange Week 2 from OWYP Teams on Vimeo.

Only with these kinds of activities can one grasp the children with all their vigor and impatient tendencies. Pretty soon, I was over with my first ever hour spent as a teacher. The time spent was very productive in an amazing sort of way. OWYP curriculum is very meticulously drawn and has all the features to keep children involved, make them learn and keep it fun for us PAs. I like being at these lessons and working on them to get the children through the OWYP curriculum.

Day 4 of the 2013 Summer Training Conference

Eddie Percapio and Bridget Larson are this year’s Project Manager Fellows of their Washington D.C. Hub Team at Georgetown University. Georgetown University was the first university to launch a OWYP Hub on their campus, and Eddie and Bridget are proud to expand their Hub and deepen the program’s impact in Washington D.C.

Written by Eddie Percapio and Bridget Larson

There is a saying that you never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Well, at the OWYP summer training conference in Stony Point, you don’t truly know your fellow Project Manager Fellow until you 1) butcher their language in the attempt to converse with them, 2) discover their preferred alternate universe, and 3) engage in a pre-workshop pillow fight with tensions running high. In any case, all of this crucial information was discovered today, before most of us even had the chance to eat a full meal.

Today we started off with an exhilarating energizer, which was much needed since we got back from New York at around 2am and everyone was a bit discombobulated, especially myself, since the perceived 5 minutes lapse between my alarm and when I got up turned out to be a full hour. Today’s energizer was the “Tree-chopping activity” (for lack of a better name), in which players formed groups of three and simulated the act of chopping down a tree (the middle person raised their arms in an impression of a tree and the end two people acted out chopping down the tree, sound effects included).

After the icebreaker we began our first workshop, during which Myk, Cady, and Anjali led us through technical details of social media. For example, we explored various routes of using Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Vimeo, and some elements of Gmail. Following, we all engaged in a “scavenger hunt” using social media to demonstrate the skills we learned.

After lunch began the workshops run by PMFs ourselves. Equipped with new techniques building and sustaining connections among PAs and marketing tools to spread the word of OWYP and our work, pooling our personal experiences and innovative thinking allowed us to help each other create a tighter global network. Shortly thereafter, as per our usual meal schedule, a Stony Point van picked us up for dinner.

We enjoyed a dinner of authentic American barbeque complete with hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, macaroni salad, and extra sweet lemonade, on two outdoor picnic tables. The show to follow our dinner began with the call of “Ice cream!” from Ayesha’s mouth. As I raced my fellow PMFs to the kitchen, I realized we were late to the game. For a peaceful, interfaith conference center, these guests definitely know how to elbow their way to earn some chocolate and vanilla ice cream. After all, carrot cake and fruit can qualify as a satisfying dessert for so many days.

After quickly returning to our respective spots on the picnic bench, we quietly delved into one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I’ve heard that the best conversations happen over dinner, but I would argue you learn the most about people over dessert. For example, I learned that Ayesha, my new pocket-sized Pakistani friend, enjoys the shivers caused by a bowl of ice cream as big as her face. Program Manager Cady, on the other hand, will sit patiently stirring her ice cream until it melts into the just the right soupy consistency. Regardless of its shape and temperature, any friend of ice cream is a friend of mine.

Day 3 of the 2013 Summer Training Conference: NYC Excursion

Ayesha Safeer is serving as one of the OWYP-Pakistan Project Manager Fellows, along with her peer Aymen Zehra Naqvi who was unable to attend the conference. Ayesha and Aymen have demonstrated incredible creativity and entrepreneurship in building student and staff support for this program at the National University of Sciences and Technology, and have big goals to scale their Hub and their impact in Islamabad.

Written by Ayesha Safeer

So, who says having a child-like enthusiasm for Starbucks or Time Square is immature and ‘childish’? Whoever says it should have seen what happened at the Day 3 of the STC 2013! A team of extremely dynamic, incredibly professional and amazingly talented university student Fellows showed how they can rock when it comes to going on a trip to NYC.

Before coming to New York for the Summer Training Conference (STC), I knew how amazing it would be to finally meet all the OWYP staff and PMFs but never had imagined that we all are going to bond so greatly this soon that it feels like everyone is working with the best team they can ever work with. The experience of learning about different cultures, the inspiring stories behind why we are doing OWYP by its founder, the sharing of deep reflections and the best practices for running the program by the experienced PMFs just became one of the best experiences we all could have this summer. Aymen from Islamabad Hub was being missed.

The 3rd day of the STC started with a beautiful posing of mermaid by our UG PMF Jessica and hence marking her victory in the energizer, “Captain of the Ship”. With all the amazing learning and workshops going on since two days, the third day of the STC was planned as an excursion trip to New York City. Everyone was super excited and couldn’t wait for the workshop to end and get to the bus.

Some unexpected experiences were thrown our way, such as dining at this cool and happening place called ‘Diners’ and dancing our ‘waiting-for-the bus moves’. Once everyone was boarded on the bus, the two hours journey to the main city provided all the Fellows a chance to share their stories and bond stronger than ever.

The rest of the evening was like a dream for some of the first-timers. Arlinda Vula, our Fellow from the Kosovo hub had her heart racing as she stepped into Times Square and asked me to check if it was still beating. It was really kind of the Fellows from USA to guide the rest of the group about different places and always watching out for any support during that time and of course the crazy pictures just added more fun at every place.

A stroll exploring the Central Park, conquering the rocks, putting up the spontaneous dance party with amazing drummers, taking the subway to Brooklyn, and having dinner with the most beautiful view of the New York City and a view of Statue of Liberty; it was all good to be true and too much to take in. But it did not end there; the walk over the Brooklyn bridge back to Manhattan with the dazzling lights just seized the day with the amazing OWYP team walking the ‘New Yorker’s style’ to catch the subway and then the bus back to Stony Point. The memories of this day are going to last forever in our minds.

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