Friday Aug 7, 2015

"Africa's Untapped Natural Resource - It's Youth"

Corey Johnson

Executive Director Imagine Scholar

Scribe: Neil Bretvick Introduced by: Wendi Fischer

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in this issue:

Updates on the upcoming golf tournament, committee sign ups, district conference, a short video presentation on the Rotary International Conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and a presentation by Corey Johnson of Imagine Scholar.

speaker program:

Corey Johnson, Executive Director of Imagine Scholar gave today’s feature presentation.  He formed Imagine Scholar in 2009 to help students in South Africa who have demonstrated great potential find a path to success.

Imagine Scholar has 10 staff who support an enrollment of 60 students.  Their emphasis is on teaching these students to develop critical thinking skills.  They do this through a curriculum that focuses on “6 Cs”:

1. Curiosity

2. Character

3. Critical Thinking

4. Communication

5. Citizenship

6. Compassion

The goal is to develop young leaders, who in turn are able to be of service to their communities, and exhibit caring and compassion for those around them.

Corey gave examples of four students of Imagine Scholar, and the impact they have had on others.

Justice, a 15-year old student, has learned to be a great chess player, winning matches against adults in tournaments.  He has started a chess program for other students to learn the game.

Mandisa, who is from a single-parent home, won a national leadership competition in her country, and was selected to attend an African Leadership Academy on a full scholarship.  She is the second student selected from Imagine Scholar for this prestigious honor.  Mandisa wants to start a community health program.

Rodger, another 15-year old, has great skill with plumbing and electrical systems, and did the work for a complete house in South Africa.  His next project will be putting in a solar electrical system for an entire building.

Enky, for whom our club has provided a scholarship to attend Imagine Scholar for the past three years, is focusing on nutrition programs in an area that traditionally has a very poor diet.  She will attend college in South Africa.  A short video was presented featuring Enky, where she spoke of how Imagine Scholar has helped her and others, and in which she also provided a thank to the BBRC for our support.

There was no time for Q&A from the audience, but Corey stayed after the meeting to field any questions from members.

club business:

President Paul Chapman opened the meeting.  Laura Cosacchi gave the invocation and pledge, and Bob McKorkle introduced visiting Rotarians and guests.

Tanya Franzen-Garrett reminded members that we are each expected to be on at least 2 committees and encouraged all to visit a table where committee sign-up sheets were available, or to go online to to sign up there.

Next, John Schwager gave an update on the upcoming Golf Tournament.  There were no new sponsors since last week, but many new items were secured for the auction, which Kit Bowerman discussed. Members were encouraged to provide or procure auction items, if they know of possible donors.  Especially good are the use of vacation properties.  Contact John or Kit for an auction procurement form, or if you have any questions.

Wendi Fischer reminded everyone about the Rotary District Conference to be held April 29 through May 1 of 2016 at the Resort at Coeur d’Alene, and encouraged all members to attend.  The BBRC band will be performing at the conference this year!

Sergeant at Arms Ann Norman fined all the members with August Birthdays $2, then brought up Colleen Turner and Kit Bowerman, who along with Ann were all sporting Rotary logo apparel.  Each told a story of how they obtained the apparel and members had to determine which story was a lie.  Since Kit’s story said he received his hat at an event in 2018 (Back to the Future style) everyone could easily guess which was a lie, though I suppose we won’t really know until 2018 has come and gone.  No further fines were levied!

Next, Paul Chapman presented a video of nine year-old Lucia Gomez Garcia, a youth leader, from the conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil.  In the video, Lucia provided some fine examples of youth who have changed the world, including Malala Yousafzay, and Ryan Hreljac.  The video may be viewed on YouTube at the following link:

Some announcements were made from the floor.  Traci Tenhulzen proposed the idea of a club-based family picnic, and asked any interested in such an event to contact her.  A new Member meeting was to be held immediately following today’s meeting.  Rotary logo wear is available for purchase.  Contact Chris Boland for details.  A reminder to seek out donation items for the golf tournament auction, and Rotary First Harvest was taking place 8/8/16 at the Northwest Harvest facility in Kent.

president’s thought for the week:

“Learning expands great souls” – Namibian proverb

About the Speaker

Corey Johnson is a 2005 graduate of the University of Washington and the Founder and Executive Director of Imagine Scholar. The Imagine Scholar journey began in late 2009 when Corey came to South Africa’s rural Nkomazi region. He was tasked with looking for potential scholarship recipients on behalf of a private donor. The thinking was that there were talented individuals coming from humble backgrounds—they just needed help paying for school. By identifying talented 12th-graders, Corey and the private donor believed they could make a lasting difference in South Africa.

As Corey began his hunt for students, however, he began to learn more about the education system in rural South Africa. He soon discovered that the problem was not students getting into university—black students from across South Africa make it into university all the time. They just weren’t doing so well once they got there.

Why was that? After several discussions with community members, a few root causes began to emerge. Since then Corey has been working to overcome those root causes and build the Imagine Scholar program and organization.

Previously, in 2009, Corey was the Managing Partner of Koh Scholar (Chiang Mai, Thailand), an education program focused on developing community leaders in Burma. From June 2005 to August 2008, Corey headed a development and raw land consulting firm near Yakima Washington.