The Global Changemakers Presidential Awards Ceremony, held on September 1, 2023, at Canyon Crest Academy’s Proscenium Theater, was a remarkable and unforgettable event that celebrated the outstanding achievements of youth leaders dedicated to shaping a brighter and more connected world between San Diego and Kenya.
Distinguished guests, including Ambassador Thomas Kwaka Omollo, the Consul General of Kenya; Dr. Anne Staffieri, Superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District; Garry Thornton, Assistant Principal of Canyon Crest Academy; Dr. Leila Naderi, a member of Mayor Gloria’s International Affairs Board; and Walter Lam, President of the San Diego Rotary International Committee, graced the occasion with their presence. Their collective support and encouragement played a pivotal role in paving the way for these young leaders.
The awards presented at the ceremony are a tribute to the exceptional leadership exhibited by the students of Canyon Crest Academy. Through their involvement in a service-learning project in Amboseli, Kenya, they launched the establishment of the Maasai Education Center—an institution equipped with computers, electricity, and Wi-Fi, enabling the Maasai community to connect with the world. This initiative stands as a testament to the students’ determination and vision to cultivate a more unified global community.
The climax of the evening featured the presentation of the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House, symbolizing national recognition, and a Letter of Recognition from Mayor Gloria of San Diego. These honors not only acknowledged the students’ efforts but also served as a reminder of the potential that youth hold in shaping a brighter future.
The ceremony resonated with youthful vitality and the determination displayed by the students. The rhythmic beats of Kenyan drumming echoed through the air, and the enticing aromas of East African cuisine enveloped the room. It was an immersive experience that encouraged attendees to embrace the rich tapestry of Kenyan heritage.
Ambassador Thomas Kwaka Omollo, Consul General of Kenya, delivered an inspiring keynote speech, emphasizing the importance of youth-led initiatives in building bridges between cultures. He underscored the significant role these young leaders played in promoting cross-cultural understanding, not only in their local communities but also on the international stage. And how the youth play a critical role in environmental conservation and congratulated them on making a difference in Kenya.
The awards ceremony was not merely about recognizing their accomplishments but also empowering them to continue their remarkable journey of service to humanity. This ceremony served as a poignant reminder that our youth are not just our future; they are the architects of a better world today. It provided an opportunity to showcase San Diego’s international partnerships, with a particular focus on the Friendship City partnership between San Diego and Amboseli, Kenya, highlighting the importance of connecting and learning from indigenous communities.
The event also offered a platform to extend gratitude to the donors and partners who had made this transformative project possible. The San Diego Rotary was acknowledged for its generous support, which had a profound impact on the success of the initiative. MCV extends an invitation for high school students, their families, and teachers to travel to Kenya next spring break—an opportunity to participate firsthand in this transformative initiative, working with the Maasai and contributing to positive change.