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Abby Falik (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST Raise your hand if you consider yourself to be a global citizen and this might mean that when you're voting you consider a candidate's foreign policy plans or there's some global scope in the work that you do. So keep your hands raised if you think you're a global citizen. Now keep your hands up if you have some kind of firsthand experience in the developing world at a formative time during your life. Keep your hands raised still, if you think that without that experience you would still have the same deep, visceral sense of global interdependence. How true it is, that a mind stretched by global experience never returns to its original dimensions. For me, it began when I was 16 and I had the opportunity to live with a family in a rural village in Nicaragua. I spent the summer working in the fields, teaching in the school, and I had my sense of myself in the world radically transformed -- experiences so profound that I have ever since been committed to answering the question of how we can ensure that many more, and more diverse, young Americans have similarly transformative experiences of poverty and development at a younger age. So we all know that US schools are notoriously bad in preparing our young people for global leadership. But the statistics are stunning. 90% of American students can’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia, and 67% can’t find Iraq, even though we’ve had troops there for the last five years. 74% believe that English is the most commonly spoken language in the world, when in reality, there are twice as many native speakers of Mandarin as there are of English. A third of US students believe that the US accounts for 30% of the world’s population, when in reality, it’s 5%. And my personal favorite? 73% of Americans, and over 50% of our congressional representatives, do not have a passport. Isn’t it time for a passport to be necessary in running for Federal office? Today, despite the importance of personal experiences of poverty and development, less than 1% of Americans will ever meet any of the 3 billion people around the world who still struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. This fact has a profound impact on how Americans view, and interact in, the world. Programs like the Peace Corps require that students have a college degree. But for students at the critical juncture between high school and college, the only opportunities for international travel or global service, outside the military, are small and super-expensive. Global Citizen Year will change this. How are we going to do it? First, we’re going to engage colleges and universities across the country. Imagine thousands of high school seniors receiving acceptance letters that say, “Congrats, we’ll see you in a year, take a Global Citizen Year.” Next, we’ll partner with NGOs around the world to create a vast network of placement sites for our young people. Finally, we’ll bring in new resources from the public and private sector to create a new program that’s accessible to kids regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. Here’s what it looks like. Each year, we’ll recruit and train a diverse corps of emerging leaders. We’re not looking for academic all-stars, we’re looking for kids with passion and potential, a bit like what Malcolm was talking about in terms of the “cap gap.” And we will bring these young people together in an intensive training, sort of like the training we just went through with the Fellowship boot camp, thanks to Andrew and Co., and we’ll introduce them to social innovation, global systems, leadership development. The students then travel, in teams, to country posts in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where they’re introduced to local language and culture, and they spend the next six months working as apprentices with on-the-ground organizations -- efforts in education, appropriate technology, public health, environmental conservation. All these kids speak English, they’ll all have passion and real energy to give, and they all know technology, and there is no doubt that we can put those skills to constructive use. But the program doesn’t end there. When the kids come back, we’ll continue to support them in bridging their experience internationally to their communities at home. They go back to their local high schools, organize assemblies, conferences, seminars, to get others engaged in the experience that they had. It’s not enough to travel and then feel like you’re somehow elite, or globally savvy, but instead you come back, and you have a sense of what it really means to engage in the US context, as an American civically, with a global perspective -- the new responsibility that that creates for you. And over time, we’ll continue to support our alums, as they move through college and figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. Our vision is of building a pipeline of social innovators, who bring personal insight and real conviction to the fight against global poverty, into positions of influence across all sectors. We’re dreaming big Imagine if every 18-year-old in this country spent a year working and living in the developing world before they began college. It’s hard to imagine that the world would not begin to change. Today, we have a full business plan, an expert consulting team, and an all-star council of advisors, including the head of Teach for America, the head of City Year, the head of the Peace Corps Association. We’ve begun to receive some publicity. Thanks to Pop!Tech, we were recently featured in the New York Times, and we’re just beginning to gather the resources we need to get off the ground. We’re designing our pilot now, and our aim is to build our pioneer class so that one year from now, our first group of students will begin their Global Citizen Year. With your help, we can reposition the US role in the world. We can’t afford not to. Thank you. This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License For details please visit POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 29 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 94
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Social Innovation Fellow Abby Falik speaks at Pop!Tech 2008 about Global Citizen Year.

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