Creating Global Leaders

by Ann Mary Quarandillo

folded paper cranes in a spiralKristin Hayden, a new Evergreen trustee, is dedicated to helping young people experience study abroad, as founder and executive director of OneWorld Now! – a nonprofit two-year global leadership program for high school students.

“Fewer than one percent of high school students study abroad and less than three percent of college students do. And just a tiny fraction of those are students of color and/or low-income students,” Hayden explains. “We have to prepare our youth if we want to be successful as a nation and world leaders in the 21st century.”

Approximately 100 students per year from eight public Seattle-area high schools participate in the weekly after-school program, which began in 2002. It offers leadership workshops, world language classes (including Arabic and Chinese), summer language camps and study abroad opportunities for underserved students.

“We take time to prepare students for study abroad, to set them up for success,” says Hayden. She emphasizes that the combination of leadership and language is a powerful one. “The leadership program is essential. It gives them the framework to be open to the experience they’re having and take advantage of it.” The program also helps students deal with re-entry after their trips, so they can understand the reality of what they experienced abroad.

Hayden’s passion for cross-cultural understanding began at age 15, when she spent a year in South Africa as a Rotary exchange student. She studied Russian in college, and lived in Moscow right before the Soviet Union dissolved. After graduation, she worked for seven years with philanthropist Bob Walsh, creator of the Goodwill Games, as international projects director, overseeing his offices in Moscow and Tbilisi, Georgia.

Kristin Hayden with globeOneWorld Now! combines Hayden’s passion for international understanding and her commitment to social justice. The nonprofit is dedicated to providing opportunities for economically challenged students, and provides scholarships for those who are eligible. “My motivation is to make change in the world,” she says. “My work helps me feel like I’m part of the solution—not just pushing against the problem.”

OneWorld Now! works to ensure that students remain global leaders throughout their lives. “All of our students go on to college,” Hayden says, “and we continue to support them there.” She is excited to join Evergreen’s board, especially since increasing international education opportunities is part of the college’s strategic plan. “Evergreen’s model of education is very innovative and very in line with the work we do,” she says. “What excites me particularly is the approach that sets students up to be responsible global citizens—we put our best foot forward to represent our country abroad.”

Kristin Hayden emphasizes social entrepreneurship through OneWorld Now!’s leadership program. “My motivation is to make change in the world.”