Mark Angelo (BASc 2003) spent the summer of 2000 teaching music to children of deprived backgrounds in southern India. The 20-year-old had done volunteer work in Toronto, but he says the experience abroad allowed him to think on a global level. “I started to think about how I could use my talents on an international scale,” he says.
Shortly after, Angelo became a founding member of the World Youth Centre, a virtual organization that provides social activists under the age of 30 with the education, financial resources and contacts they need to run community projects. The not-for-profit corporation, which raises funds through government, charitable foundations and donations campaigns, supports entrepreneurs throughout the world. “The things they’re trying to do involve issues such as HIV/AIDS, the environment and poverty,” says Angelo, 25, who now serves as chair of the centre’s board of directors. “They’re not easy tasks, and a lot of people would say they’re too hard and they’re going to fail. But they have this amazing optimism.”
Fifteen entrepreneurs will take part in the centre’s International Program, slated to be held this summer at U of T. Memunatu Barrie, for example, is a 20-year-old from Freetown, Sierra Leone, who hopes to heighten youth awareness about HIV/AIDS through a hip-hop campaign. Rafael Anibal Mendoz Lozano, a 28-year-old from Lima, Peru, is planning an ecotourism project to help preserve the indigenous culture of the Quechua people. Over eight weeks, they’ll take workshops in project management, ethics, fundraising and marketing led by experts in industry, academe and the not-for-profit sector who volunteer their time.
“It’s partly because we grew up with the Internet, but our generation has a lot more awareness of the problems facing the world,” says Angelo, a consultant with Monitor Group, an international professional services firm. “We’re not prepared to sit back and let things happen.”