Below are the reflections of YouthActionNet alumni on their Fellowship experience and the program’s ongoing support throughout their social change journeys.
The Laureate Global Fellowship is a mindset changing retreat; it has helped me realize my strengths, my potential, and my vision for making the world a better place. I am now connected to an inspiring family of like-minded fellows.”
—Katia Zahwi ('17 Fellow), Co-founder, Architects for Change, Lebanon
The Laureate Global Fellowship was life changing for me—from the retreat and how the workshop was delivered to the mix of fellows from all around the world to the spirit of the organizers—I just loved all aspects of the Laureate Global Fellowship. I hope one day to return as a facilitator for subsequent cohorts to come.
—Dysmus Kisilu ('17 Fellow), Founder, Solar Freeze, Kenya
The Laureate Global Fellowship gave me the time and space to reflect on issues which due to a fast-paced life I don't get to reflect on very often. Through excellent facilitation, impeccable organization, and the retreats structure and content, I feel I grew as a person and a leader. Thank you for this amazing opportunity - and I can't wait to contribute to the network!
—Sylwia Wodzinska ('17 Fellow), Co-founder, MamyGlos, Poland
I generally find leadership seminars to be motivational talks which sound great, but lack substance. The retreat was based upon sound research and provided concrete tools to help me in my leadership and social entrepreneurship.
—Leo Henghes ('16 Fellow), Founder, UniTED, United Kingdom
I am a better leader because of this Fellowship program. We have plenty of challenges ahead and I can't think of a better placed group to help us tackle them.
—Emma Colenbrander ('14 Fellow), Co-founder, Pollinate Energy, India
They say some experiences change you forever. For me, the Laureate Global Fellowship is one of them. From design thinking to program planning to personal growth, the sessions afforded us experiential learning opportunities—allowing us not only to be creative and innovative, but also to see how our learning applies to real life.
—Anoka Abeyrathne (’14 Fellow), Founder, Growin' Money, Sri Lanka
This experience [the Laureate Global Fellowship] has shown me that if I’m going to be really effective, and if I’m going to make the change I want to see, I have to be more deliberate about my leadership style and what it means to be a leader and how I can best lead and act to get done the things I need to get done.
—Michael Long (’14 Fellow), Founder, SailFuture, United States
My first time stepping out of Africa, seated on a plane for the [YouthActionNet] leadership retreat in Istanbul was more than fun, adventurous, and educational...It made me informed, inspired, transformed, empowered, connected, and ready to end HIV/AIDS and poverty in the slums of Kampala.
—Muhammed Kisirisa (’12 Fellow), Executive Director, Action for Fundamental Change and Development (AFFCAD), Uganda
The Fellowship elevated the capabilities I had honed in my work while pushing me out of my comfort zone—in the best way possible—to consider other facets I had to develop to become a better leader.
—Arundhuti Gupta (’11 Fellow), Founder, Mentor Together, India
It's an honor and a privilege to be part of YouthActionNet. Beyond learning, I’ve gained great friends and a partner that is always striving to add value for its fellows.
—Lina Useche Jaramillo ('10 Fellow), Founder, Impulso Microcredit, Brazil
The retreat was seriously one of the best experiences I've ever had. I met lots of interesting people, learned many things, and truly experienced the growth potential of my organization. The topics dealt [with] were extremely useful for both me and my organization. It was great to recognize that you form part of a group with the same passion to do things!
—Kerstin Forsberg ('10 Fellow), Founder, Planeta Oceano, Peru
Being a YouthActionNet Fellow has greatly improved my confidence in what I'm doing. It has helped me to speak about it more clearly and succinctly and has given me the courage to set about magnifying my fundraising and marketing efforts."
—Joy Olivier ('08 Fellow), founder, IkamvaYouth, South Africa
Networking with like-minded youth allowed us to learn from others' experiences, share new techniques, and mutually reinforce our drive to keep going... YouthActionNet provided me with technical tools and the emotional boost a young leader needs in times of crisis.
—John Miller Beauvoir (’07 Fellow), Founder, Center for Education, Reflection, and Debate, Haiti
YouthActionNet has provided me with support, connections, and good advice when I needed it. It's that feeling that someone is always ready to lend a hand that I appreciate most.
—Selene Biffii (‘06 Fellow), Founder, Youth Action for Change, Italy
IYF was the first organization to recognize and celebrate my work as a filmmaker and activist. This recognition helped me forge my future path—courageously and with renewed sense of conviction... Meeting others like me from all over the globe was hugely inspiring.
—Harjant Gill, Ph.D. (’03 Fellow), Filmmaker; Professor of Anthropology, USA