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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.

Trayvon Martin, Miley Cyrus, or Why Global Education Shouldn’t Make Us Forget Our Own Communities

Pop Culture as a Canary in the Coal Mine

When I started hearing about the Tryvon Martin murder case, I was interested as much as I usually am in things that the American media chooses to be temporarily important to us. I figured it would be an issue for a while until something else—some oil spill or corporate scandal—took our attention away. I read a few of the articles, watched some videos one afternoon and read some comments on facebook. My favorite piece by far was Obama’s extremely thoughtful 18 minute speech (I highly recommend watching the whole thing) during which he said,

“A lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given that there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent—using that as an excuse to see sons treated differently causes pain… folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel there is no context for it—or that that context is being denied.”

He’s saying don’t ignore American history. USE it to understand our present.

Just a month and a half after George Zimmerman’s acquittal, my facebook newsfeed exploded again with articles and blog posts spanning the insightful to the inciting about the implications about race and prejudice in a provocative dance performance performed by a 20 year old on MTV. Again, it seemed to me like the newest hot topic—one in a long line of provocative performances that have gotten press—both positive and negative—and have essentially just ended up promoting the allure of stardom and fame as well as the individual performers who happen to be taking their clothes off at the time. But then I started to realize what Tryvon Martin and Miley Cyrus had in common: they were symbols. They both represented a discontent with the denial of the history of race in America.

What I liked about what the President said last month was that he pointed out this denial. He specifically drew attention not just to the history of African Americans and how it has shaped current dynamics in black communities, but he drew attention to the fact that many people do not think that history is relevant anymore.

What don’t you understand about “Ouch”?

As a white man, I myself have often felt that the way to overcome racism is just for everyone to agree to stop being racist right now, and then to move forward as an egalitarian society. But what I fail to recognize is all of the unconscious things that I do and think that have been informed by prejudices and then passed down to me either purposefully or inadvertently by my ancestors and by my society. I’m not saying that there aren’t people that are explicitly and purposefully racist. Obviously those people exist—and I’ll leave the task of speaking to them to a better writer.

Earlier in my life, if I felt that I had gotten a bad deal on something that I bought, I would say that I had gotten “gypped”. A friend told me a couple of years ago, however, that the word “gypped” comes from “Gypsy”. The connotation is that Gypsies, or Roma, are untrustworthy and deceitful. If I was Roma and heard someone use a slur for my people as a way of explaining getting swindled, I would probably feel uncomfortable if not offended.

If I don’t admit that there might be things I do and in the way I live that make other people uncomfortable that I am not aware of, then I can’t stop doing them. And if I believe that other people can feel offended by the things that I do and say, then I should consider their arguments when they say “ouch”.

Tryvon Martin’s trial and Miley Cyrus’ performance are simply analogies for my friend overhearing my use of the word “gypped”. The popular reactions to the two events are manifestations of something bigger lying under the surface of our society. As my behavior and consciousness was corrected by my friend, so too can our collective attitude about race be corrected in America by people sharing their personal and authentic experiences with one another—not as accusations, but as revelations that reveal hidden prejudices.

This model of introspection and cross-fertilization is something we can all do at home, no matter where we go to do work or study abroad. It is also a mode of relating to our histories and societies that we can share with our friends and colleagues everywhere we go in the world. There isn’t a country without injustice in their past, or a citizen without a prejudice that couldn’t use some attention.

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.

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