THE BLOG
02/10/2014 08:56 pm ET | Updated Apr 12, 2014

Maps & Mentors: What I Hope to Learn About Global Citizenship Through The Stories of Others

At eight years old, after seeing Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free the Children, give a talk on the work of his organization, I decided I was ready to start making a change in the world. This day launched me on my path of social justice, and I became quite involved very quickly. I began to join social justice clubs, raise funds for issues I was passionate about, and participate in campaigns for a variety of charities. The small things I had been doing in the community for years started to add up, and I decided that I was ready to take a giant leap out in the world last June. So, I started The Global Sunrise Project and convinced my mother to let me take a semester out of school to travel the world using my love of photography, film and change-making to create a short documentary and book on global citizenship. This really was a giant step because we both didn't know how we were going to afford to do it, but we decided to put our best foot forward and try to gather others who believed in the project as well.

I've called the documentary The Sunrise Storyteller© because it will focus on stories of hope and resilience where people, despite what challenges they may face, are doing good things to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities -- people who are "being the change they wish to see" (Mahatma Gandhi). Personally, I'm interested in issues concerning women and children, poverty, education, the environment and other young leaders. I want to document people who are trying to make changes in a positive way, despite the obstacles in their path. Through my visual storytelling I will try to help educate and open people's hearts to understand that we are all in this together and there are a multitude of creative solutions to be found. My intent for this project is to bring stories to life in other parts of the globe that may not otherwise be heard and to connect caring creative catalysts for change.

Through this project, I wish to create a sense of hope instead of hopelessness. I believe highlighting these types of stories is a far better way to empower people to take action and to inspire people to be better global citizens and care for each other and the Earth. I would like people to realize that we share one planet, and it is our duty to work together in unity.

So what's a Global Sunriser? They're people who wake up every day with a desire to make the world we live in a better place, not only for themselves, but for their communities and all life that shares this planet. And for keeping future generations in mind, here's our manifesto that we came up with and share on our website which talks about the kind of choices Global Sunrisers make.

The choices we make have the ability to impact change. I believe that kindness spreads, so choosing to act in this way and to have a positive outlook can create a ripple effect to inspire others as well. Not to say that we won't have our challenges to overcome or have some really bad days, but it's our attitude that will make the difference. The same goes with being negative; it can affect the people around you and create a toxic environment. Change begins with you. "Change yourself and you have done your part in changing the world."-Parmahansa Yogananda. I agree, you can't change others, but if you have a positive outlook, then others may follow.

A Word From Mom

After we had experienced our first UN conference together last year, and with one eye-opening trip to Cuba under her belt, I knew the immeasurable value of the proposal she made to take six months/one semester out of school would have for her. If she were to know the world as a creative and caring cause catalyst, no doubt she would grow exponentially by traveling, participating and immersing her heart in it.

Trying to make this happen from scratch, with limited resources, has been quite the challenge, but the prospect of seeing the potential impact her project could have has made those challenges seem small in comparison. It's exciting as a parent to know that the primary focus of The Global Sunrise Project© is through a teenagers' lens and will be an exploration of empathy and inspired youth leadership in action. As Kasha's mother, EduCaring her, not just educating her, is really what my role as one of her mentors in life and on this project is all about. As we set out on this big journey, what better reminder that, while we may travel many miles, sometimes the longest distance is our navigation from the head to the heart. But luckily, reaching that destination requires no passport at all.