GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff


Global Youth Connect and the GYC Village Blog

Global Youth Connect is dedicated to empowering youth to advance human rights and create a more just world.  We envision a world where the human rights of all people are equally respected, fully protected and universally realized.  We also envision a world where all young people – regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion, class, gender or other differences – are encouraged and empowered to non-violently claim their own rights and serve as advocates for the rights of others.

This blog is a space for alumni of GYC’s human rights delegations to share their current efforts towards advancing human rights across the world.  It is to be a forum where cross-cultural dialogue on human rights issues around the world can thrive; a place where current GYC delegates can share details and reflections of their experiences with Global Youth Connect, and a space where former GYC delegates can keep in touch and continue the rich interactions that characterize GYC’s programs even after they’ve returned to “real life.”

While this space represents the voices of GYC’s alumni, staff, board and friends, we hope that even readers who haven’t participated in a GYC delegation will find the material thought provoking and the community engaging.

Interested in contributing to the blog?  Email us your idea at

Editorial Team:

The GYC youth and alumni writing posts for the GYC Village Blog have worked with various GYC staff and alumni as editors.

  • For posts in 2010 – 2011: Amy Durand and Jesse Hawkes
  • For posts in 2012: Laura Heaton and Jesse Hawkes
  • For posts in 2013 – 2015: Jesse Hawkes


Currently the Vice-Chair of GYC’s board of directors, Amy came to Global Youth Connect as a participant on the 2008 Rwanda program.  In subsequent years, she served as Program Assistant on five additional programs in the Land of a Thousand Hills. At home in Edmonton, Alberta, Amy worked for the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights as their youth program coordinator where she focused on planning and facilitating human rights education programs. After several years with the JHC, she moved to Boyle Street Community Services as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director.  She is currently employed by the new provincial government of Alberta establishing the caucus functions for Alberta’s NDP


Laura is an American journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. GYC Rwanda alumna and staff member (2006 – 2007). See more of Laura Heaton’s work at and


Jesse is a human rights activist, researcher, and youth development programmer, as well as a professional actor/singer, and theatre director/writer.  Jesse served as GYC’s Executive Director from 2009 until 2015, and was also GYC’s Rwanda Program director from 2007 – 2015, organizing 15 human rights learning and action youth summits in collaboration with local Rwandan partner organizations. Jesse created GYC’s Human Rights in the USA Program and ran the first two editions of that program. He also assisted with the Global Kids, Inc. American Youth Leadership Program in Bosnia-Herzegovina for GYC in 2012/2013.  Jesse has his BA in History from Harvard University and lived and worked in Kigali, Rwanda for six years, where he co-created RAPSIDA, an HIV prevention program for over sixty Rwandan high schools and communities, utilizing a combination of innovative theatre methods, peer education, and outreach activities.


We’re on Twitter!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


The Global Youth Connect Village blog and most of the social media content are created by GYC alumni, staff and board members working in conjunction with GYC. Views expressed on this blog and social media comments by individuals are not necessarily the opinion of GYC itself and should not be taken as such. GYC also reserves the right to monitor and delete comments not contributing to the spirit of social media etiquette, human dignity and respect. All Contributors to this have accepted to operate under a creative common's license. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
%d bloggers like this: