Founder and Chair

Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun

2012 Forum Team


Executive Team

John Bond, Forum Coordinator
Rob Lancaster, Forum Director
Alexandra Martins, Communications Director

Steering Group

Dick Ruffin
Marianne Spreng
Chris Evans
Omnia Marzouk
Martin Frick
Erik Parsons
Andrew Lancaster


Shontaye Abegaz
Nathalie Renia


Yvonne Rufibach

Conference Assistants

Fiona Goggins, Communications Assistant
Leana Chatrath
Soumya Iyer
Paul Briggs
Artak Mkrtichyan
Joelle Rechdan
Harpreet Kaur

Day Coordinators

Yara Zgheib
William Bett
Athalia Zwartz
Selam Kidane

Podcast Series

Mbindyo Kimanthi

Media Contact

Andrew Stallybrass

The Caux Forum for Human Security is organized by Initiatives of Change International and hosted in partnership with CAUX-Initiatives of Change.

About IofC International

Initiatives of Change International (IofC International)is a non-government organization (NGO) working for peace,reconciliation and human security worldwide. It has special consultativestatus with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, andParticipatory Status at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. It stresses the importance of personal responsibility, ethical leadership and building trust across the world’s divides. Its President is Rajmohan Gandhi. Based in Caux, Switzerland, IofC International was founded in 2002 as an association bringing together the autonomous national bodies of the Initiatives of Change movement which are active in 39 countries, many of them over several decades.

IofC International represents the universality andmultifaith character of the movement, and facilitates its relationshipswith the United Nations and other international organizations throughits Geneva office. Its Office of Training Services in Geneva connectsthe training capacities of the worldwide movement with needs identifiedby the UN and other international agencies.

IofC International has operational responsibility for Initiatives of Change’s global communications and facilitates collaboration between IofC national bodies. Certain trans-national programmes of the Initiatives of Change movement also operate under its auspices.

In 2008 IofC International launched the Caux Forum for Human Securityat the movement’s international conference centre in Caux. The Forum is a global resource for those working for peace and human security at all levels. www.iofc.org

About CAUX-Initiatives of Change

CAUX-Initiatives of Change is a charitable Swiss Foundation. In addition to sharing the aims of the network, itowns and manages the Caux centre, for over 60 years home to international conferences.

In 1946, the former Caux-Palace Hotel opened its doors to the world as an international conference centre for Initiatives of Change.From 1946 to 1950, Germans and French met at Caux in a spirit ofreconciliation. In the next years, Caux also became a meeting place forleaders from emerging nations.

Sixty years on, each Northern summer, the Caux assembly draws between1400 and 2000 people of all walks of life, of every generation,background and religious outlook to be part of a continuous series ofconferences dealing with specific subjects. In recent years, meetingshave been held between individuals and opposing groups from Lebanon,Cambodia, Burundi, Somalia and South Africa. Caux has also hosteddialogues between ethnic groups from inner cities. And it is here wheremany Initiatives of Change programmes are developed. The centre is partly funded by the lease of sections of the Caux facility to a hotel management school for 10 months of the year. The Foundation is also a founding member of IofC International. www.caux.ch

Forum team biographies

Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, Algeria, Founder and Chair

Mohamed Sahnoun, a national of Algeria, was nominated by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as United Nations/Organization of African Unity (OAU) Special Representative for the Great Lakes region of Africa in January 1997.

Sahnoun is also a member of the Special Advisory Group of the War-torn Societies Project, a joint endeavour of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Through his recent activities, he has been in contact with important actors in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.

Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Sahnoun was Special Adviser to the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the Culture of Peace Programme and formerly Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Somalia, from April to November 1992. In 1993, he was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the OAU in the Congo; and in 1994, he became a Pearson fellow with the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa, Canada.

During his career, Mr. Sahnoun has been Counsellor to the President of Algeria on diplomatic affairs. He was a member of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) in the 1980s, as well as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). From 1964 to 1973, Mr. Sahnoun was Deputy Secretary-General of the OAU, and in 1973, he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Arab States in charge of Arab-Africa dialogue.

He also served as Algeria's Ambassador to Morocco and Secretary to the Maghreb Union (1989-1990); Ambassador to the United States (1984-1989); Chief of Algeria's Mission to the United Nations (1982-1984); Ambassador to France (1979-1982); and Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany (1975-1979).

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John Bond, United Kingdom, Forum Coordinator

John Bond has worked with Initiatives of Change since 1970, and has been active in human security concerns throughout his career. He spent 10 years in Africa during the 1970s and 1980s, first in Ethiopia, and then in Rhodesia – as it was when he arrived – through its turbulent transition into Zimbabwe.

He then worked in Australia, with a particular focus on improving the condition of Aboriginal Australia. In 1998 he became Secretary of the National Sorry Day Committee, which enlisted nearly a million Australians in an apology to Aboriginal Australians for cruel and misguided past policies, and in initiatives to overcome the harm caused. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Australian community through the National Sorry Day Committee.

He now lives in Oxford, England, working from there on initiatives which have emerged from the Caux Forum for Human Security, particularly in Africa.

Central to his work, throughout his career, has been writing and editing. For three years he edited the London weekly, New World News. And he has worked with several well-known Australians to tell their stories, most recently ‘Father of the House’, the memoirs of Kim E Beazley, former Federal Minister for Education (Fremantle Press, 2009). His biography of Jerzy Zubrzycki, known as 'the father of Australian multiculturalism', will be published this year.

He has two daughters, one teaching in Alice Springs, the other nursing in Melbourne. His wife Mary is a writer and spiritual director. For 20 years she edited For a Change, an international magazine devoted to conflict resolution and community building.

To contact John: john.bond@iofc.org

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Rob Lancaster, Australia, Forum Director

Rob grew up in Australia, but since leaving school has spent periods in Europe (mainly France and England), as well as some time more recently in Eastern Europe, India and South East Asia. From November 2007, he spent two and a half months volunteering with IofC in India, and the challenges and encounters of that time encouraged him to be available after university to continue with IofC for a period. That period became somewhat self-renewing, a bit like skype credit, and he's still here. He’s been working full time with IofC for a couple of years now; as Director of the Caux Interns Programme, on the support team of Action for Life, now with the Caux Forum for Human Security, and a few other fingers in other pies. A graduate from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations/French) (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), his main academic interest is in cosmopolitan theory, which looks at relationships between different groups of people, particularly across national borders. He’s especially interested in the potential for a new ethic in political and social leadership.

Day to day, he has a sporting passion for cricket and Australian rules football, and an intellectual passion for debating, formally as well as with friends and family. His spare time consists largely of drinking coffee with friends, playing the piano, reading and watching BBC dramas.

To contact Rob: rob.lancaster@iofc.org

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Alexandra Martins, South Africa/Brazil, Communications Director

Originally from South Africa, Alex has lived in Brazil, the United States and the United Kingdom, where she is now based in preparation for the 2012 Forum. She recently graduated from the University of Oxford with an MPhil in Politics (Comparative Government), focusing primarily on Central African politics and power-sharing governance. She holds her Bachelors from the University of Pennsylvania in International Relations and Theatre Arts. Outside of her studies, she has taught English in Rio de Janeiro and on the Thai-Burmese border and has travelled to Kinshasa, DRC and Bujumbura, Burundi to conduct research on governance issues. She hopes to continue her travels, but also to find one continent on which to settle. Her many passions include Congolese history and politics, reading epic fantasy novels and New York City. She is especially passionate about acting and hopes to incorporate theatre into her work with human security issues in the future.

To contact Alex: alexandra.martins@iofc.org

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Dick Ruffin, USA

Although Dick Ruffin was born in Virginia, USA, it was while studying at Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship, that he first encountered the ideas and people of Initiatives of Change (IofC). Following Oxford, Dick served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, first as Communications Officer on a destroyer and then in Washington on the staff of the Secretary of Defense. In 1971 he turned down positions in the Pentagon in order to learn more about IofC and to explore its relevance to America and its world role. This exploration grew into a life commitment. He has worked with several IofC initiatives and was primarily responsible for IofC's legal and administrative affairs in the United States between 1980 and 2003. He recently served as the Executive Vice President of Initiatives of Change - International. Dick has lived in Washington, DC, for the last twenty-two years with his wife Randy who also shares his commitment to IofC and they have two grown children.

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Marianne Spreng, Switzerland

Marianne was born in in Bern, Switzerland and has studied in Bern, Montreux and Lausanne, as well as at the Interpreters’ School at the University of Geneva. She speaks German, French, English and Italian. She has worked with Initiatives of Change in Germany, the UK, Croatia, India, Sri Lanka, returning to each of these countries for several stays of several months/years. She has also participated in organising seminars/conferences in Eritrea, Bosnia, Ukraine and more recently Egypt.

Currently, Marianne serves as the Head of the Department “International Relations” of the Foundation CAUX-Initiatives of Change and a member of the “Caux Preparation Group” coordinating the Caux Conferences, the annual schedule and programs in team-work with the international conference teams and program organisers. She is responsible for rentals in Caux outside conference time (Villa Maria), which entails organising events in partnership with NGOs and Swiss Government Departments and Agencies working in the field of conflict prevention, dialogue and Human Security. She also assists IofC International with contacts in international organisations and the UN. Previously, she has served as Secretary of the Council of the Foundation, Head of the Foundation’s Finance Committee, Member of the Council of the Foundation, Chief-Editor of the Foundation’s German language monthly CAUX-Information and a member of the Management Team, in charge of Communications/Objectives & Development at the Foundation CAUX-Initiatives of Change.

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Chris Evans, UK

Chris was born, and now lives with his wife Anne, on his family's farm in the west of England. Apart from two years' farming in the '70s, he has worked with Initiatives of Change in one capacity or another since 1969. The first two and a half years were in Asia, particularly India where he has enduring links, and since then he has been based in Europe. He was treasurer of IofC in Britain for 13 years, which gave him much conviction and some experience of what it takes to finance IofC. He is deeply involved in Foundations For Freedom and Caux Initiatives for Business, and for the last 6 years has served on the Board of IofC-USA.

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Omnia Marzouk, Egypt/UK

Omnia was born in Madrid, and studied medicine in Sydney Australia while her father served as Egyptian Ambassador. She gained her MD from Liverpool University and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and a Fellow of the College of Emergency Medicine. She has been working as Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine for 15 years at UK’s largest Children’s Emergency Department – Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. She has just stepped down from her role as Clinical Director. She is an accredited mentor and has a Diploma in Medical Education. She has an active regional educational role and is currently serving as RCPCH Regional Advisor in Paediatrics and National Chair for training in her specialty. She has taken part in two RCPCH “Train the Trainers” delegations to Jordan and Kurdistan aimed at training Iraqi doctors and nurses in paediatric life support.

Omnia met IofC while at school in Australia and has been actively involved since. She has been particularly involved in intercultural and interfaith dialogue for many years within the UK as well as taking part in similar initiatives in countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. She has served on the IofC Consultation Support Group, and led a review of IofC International Structures in 2004. She is committed to building bridges of understanding between the west and the Muslim/Arab world. Omnia heads up the portfolio for international programmes, conferences and actions and shares responsibility for training and people development.

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Martin Frick, Germany

Martin Frick joined E3G Berlin in November 2010 as the Programme Leader for Climate Diplomacy. Martin has 14 years of experience as a German diplomat. He served as the German representative for human rights and humanitarian affairs at the United Nations General Assembly from 2005 to 2007. He also represented Germany on the NGO committee of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

As negotiator for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities he helped shaping a major UN human rights instruments and was also in charge of the UN Security Council’s human rights related resolutions.

In 2007, during the German EU presidency, Martin negotiated on behalf of the European Union key elements of the UN Human Rights Council, including the Universal Periodic Review. He also negotiated resolutions on the Right to Development and on the human rights situation in Darfur.

Prior to his work in New York, Martin served as Consul and as Deputy Ambassador in Albania from 1999-2002. From 2002-2005 he was the Cabinet Affairs Advisor to German Federal Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

As Deputy CEO/Director of the Global Humanitarian Forum, a Geneva based foundation set up by former UN-Secretary General Kofi Annan, Martin defined from the early days of this foundation the programme content and strategic orientation of the Forum’s work.

Martin has a PhD in Law from Regensburg University, and a diploma in international relations from SciencePo Strasbourg, France. He is a senior fellow at Demos, New York.

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Erik Parsons, Australia

Erik is a communications consultant and graphic designer for Initiatives of Change International. He designed sites such as www.iofc.org/" and the original www.cauxforum.net and was a founding editor of Global Express magazine (1994-96). A songwriter and music producer, Erik recorded his first independent CD, Atonic, in 1996. Two CDs with Canopy followed in 1998 and 2001. His 'day job' at this time was in corporate graphic design and marketing. Erik's interests include experimental asian-inspired cooking for guests, the art and activism of Brian Eno and U2, the thinking of C.G. Jung, human rights in Burma, science fiction, and sculpting musical atmospheres. He has a B.A. in Philosophy, Media Studies and Music. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Erik now lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his Moldovan wife Cristina.

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Andrew Lancaster, Australia

Andrew Lancaster lives in Australia where he was born in 1947. In 1965 he interrupted his Civil Engineering studies to make himself available for the program of MRA/IofC. Since then he has worked with IofC in a number of countries including India, Canada, UK and New Zealand. For the last 35 years he and his wife Margaret have made their home in Canberra. Since the 1980s he has been a member of IofC Australia’s Council of Management. From 2003 to 2006, he served as National Coordinator in Australia. For four years from October 2006 he served on IofC’s International Council and on the Executive Committee of IofC International and then at the IofC Global Consultation in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, he was selected to serve for a further two years. He is also a member of the Council of the CAUX-Initiatives of Change Foundation in Switzerland which owns and maintains the IofC international conference centre in the village of Caux. Andrew and Margaret have three adult sons and three grandchildren.

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Shontaye Abegaz, USA

Shontaye grew up as an American Army Brat moving around extensively as a child. As an adult, she has continued her travels and has lived in the United States, Germany and Africa. She has been engaged on and off over the past three years with IofC, mostly as an event supporter in the Washington, DC area.

Day to day, Shontaye has a passion for grass roots volunteerism and has been an avid volunteer for various organizations since adolescence. Her interests include intercultural dialog, human rights and human security. Her spare time consists of spending cherished time with family and friends, watching dramas and travel writing. She also enjoys cooking and entertaining with family and friends.

Fiona Goggins, Australia, Communications Assistant

Fiona is currently sweating it out in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), West Africa, in her third long-term visit to the country in 2 years. Yet another roaming Australian, Fiona undertook a Bachelor of International Studies majoring in Globalization at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, did a year’s exchange at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and in an apparent bid to prolong the dream of the Student Life for as long as humanly possible, went on to gain a Masters in Human Rights Law and Policy. Fiona has a keen interest in Human Security issues, particularly where the rights of women and children are concerned, and continues to work with a small grassroots NGO for women living with HIV in Côte d’Ivoire, among other assorted projects. Fiona is an avid reader, spends far too much time on social media, and has a love of acting, however her true passion is in the fine art of karaoke. She also considers herself a connoisseur of Alloco, the Ivoirian name for fried plantains, and is a self-confessed pineapple enthusiast.

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Yvonne Rufibach, Switzerland,

Having experienced many small and some larger cultural differences during a high school exchange in Ecuador, Yvonne decided to take up studies of social anthropology and sociology at the University of Berne and later at the Free University of Berlin. Her interests centred on globalization processes, especially multiculturalism, intercultural dialogue, conflicts or migration, and geographically on Latin America. Different volunteer engagements in Ecuador, Poland and South Africa deepened her understanding of the prevalent inequalities and the numerous challenges in the world and incited her to join the master’s programme in Development Studies at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, where she is currently working on my master’s thesis. Aside from her studies she enjoys hiking, climbing and snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, where she grew up.

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Leana Chatrath, Switzerland/Canada,

Originally from Switzerland, Leana has lived in Singapore, Canada and the United States, and currently calls New York City home. Having developed a love of everything ‘international’ through her parents and her own experiences, she earned a Bachelors of Arts (Hons) in International Development from McGill University (Canada), and then went on to do a Masters of International Affairs at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland. She has a strong interest in education and human rights, especially with regard to women and children. Leana previously worked for UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, promoting the right to inclusive education and building countries’ capacity to provide quality education for all. In her spare time, Leana enjoys painting, reading and travelling.

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Soumya Iyer, Malaysia

Soumya was born and brought up in Malaysia where she did most of her schooling in this multi-cultural and multi-racial country. She pursued a Joint Hons degree in Psychology and Sociology at Queens University of Belfast, Northern Ireland and returned to Malaysia with a broad desire to work in the field of human development and to affect positive change in society. This led her to work in corporations in the areas of total quality management and human resource development. She is presently volunteering with Initiatives of Change in India, in exploration of living dynamically with values to build leaders who can serve society in an inclusive and humane way.

She appreciates a good exchange of ideas, reading, listening to music and a game of tennis or table tennis for recreation.

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Paul Briggs, United Kingdom

Paul was born and brought up in Liverpool, England where he received his schooling. Whilst obtaining a degree in Media Professional studies (BA Hon's) he developed his desire to create visual material and film that helps spread complex messages in a understandable, universal way. As well as working as an Art Director for commercial television broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4, he also runs an independent production company that mainly produces documentary and promotional material for charities such as Initiatives of Change. As well as being a keen musician, Paul enjoys film making, art, photography, movies, travelling, learning about other cultures and the exchange and collaboration of creative input with others to create truly unique and individual pieces, be it film, paintings, graphic design or music.

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Artak Mkrtichyan, Armenia/Spain

Originally from Armenia, Artak grew up in Georgia. After hold his master degree from Armenian State Pedagogical University in History and Jurisprudence he moved to Spain where hold his master degree in European Law and PhD in Public International Law and International Relations from University of A Coruña. He worked as a radio host for different programs in Armenia and Spain. In 2007 Artak spent several months in Belgium, working as an intern in Armenian diplomatic mission to the European Union. From 2008, he starts working on the field of European projects, designing and carrying out several projects for different public institutions in Spain. His first contact with IofC was in summer of 2011 as the scholar of CSP. After that he started his active cooperation with Initiatives of Change.

Currently Artak is working in the department of Public International Law and International Relations of University of A Coruña and collaborating with Spanish NGO for development Ecos do Sur. Artak is author of several papers about International Law, conflicts and European policies. He speaks Armenian, English, Spanish, Russian, Georgian and basic French.

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Joelle Rechdan, USA/Lebanon

Joelle was born in Byblos, Lebanon, and lived there until the age of 10 when she and her family moved to The United States. She spent periods of her life studying, volunteering and pursuing a degree in Political Science and International Affairs from State University of New York. She currently resides in Lebanon, where she works as an English teacher at an International School and teaches English as a foreign language as a private tutor. She took interest in the Caux Initiatives of Change when she first heard about it from her sister who has been volunteering with Initiatives of Change for the past two years. Joelle still maintains an avid interest in foreign affairs in the International community. She volunteers with various humanitarian NGOs and enjoys reading and exercising.

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Harpreet Kaur, United Kingdom

Harpreet was born and grew up in England, and completed a degree in Sociology in 2000. She has since lived and worked in Birmingham, London, Beijing and Melbourne in the arts sector as a Creative Producer across the visual and performing arts. In 2011 following a 2-year round the world travel adventure Harpreet returned to England and has relocated to Bristol to read for a Masters in Gender and International Relations. Harpreet volunteered for and participated in the IofC Asia Pacific Youth Conference in Melbourne in 2011. Harpreet is passionate about using her skills to works a Cultural Catalyst, creating innovative projects that forge interculturalism and creativity to address current social, political and environmental issues. She has a particular interest in women's rights, human security, intercultural dialogues and multiculturalism. She is British Asian privileged to be of dual heritage, fluent in Punjabi, and can speak Hindi. A vulture of culture her passions also include world music and dance, photography, travel writing, big cities, red wine, social networking and cake

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Yara Zgheib, Lebanon

Born and raised in Lebanon, Yara moved to Washington DC two years ago on a Fulbright Scholarship to get a Masters degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University. Her concentration is in terrorism and sub-state violence, and her geographic area of focus is the Middle East. She was first introduced to Initiatives of Change during the summer of 2011 when she interned at the center at Caux, doing conference support, translation, and her favorite: cooking in the diet kitchen. Graduate student by day, and avid bookworm, dreamer, and chocolate enthusiast by night, Yara dreams of becoming a writer, and is in the process of publishing her first book, "Biography of a Little Prince." She now works with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy in Washington, DC.

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Athalia Zwartz, Australia

Athalia is the Executive Director of Sports Without Borders. She has a BA with Honours from the University of Melbourne, where she majored in Islamic Studies and History, and her work at the Centre for Multicultural Youth involved key roles in youth leadership and mentoring programs. Athalia also served as a project coordinator and researcher with the Australian Multicultural Foundation, managing national research projects and she has served on a range of local and state government committees.

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Selam Kidane, United States

Selam Kidane is a recent graduate from Saint Mary's College of California, with an undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Ethnic Studies. Born in Portland, Oregon, her family origin stems from Eritrea, located in east Africa. She was introduced to Initiatives of Change through her alma mater and will be an intern this upcoming summer (2012). Throughout her time as a student leader she has collaborated, planned, and facilitated a number of social justice events that discuss various social problems, such as race, economic class, and the idea of understanding how our individuals roles fit into performing in a global society. This upcoming fall, Selam will attend the University of Southern California to pursue a Master's in Clinical Social Work. Her career aspirations are to work in a hospital setting advocating and assisting patients with their plans for pre and post medical care. In her free time Selam enjoys listening to music from her country, studying new cultures, and watching movies.

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William Bett, United States

William is a former Caux Scholar (2010) and recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston (2011) with a double-major in Finance and International Management and a minor in Economics. He completed his Honors Thesis on Development in Botswana and has an intense interest in social entrepreneurship and social development. In addition to studying abroad in Switzerland, William also spent time in Beijing learning Mandarin as well as taking Chinese business courses. In the future, he aims to tackle health and education issues in hopes of finding more sustainable solutions.

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Mbindyo Kimanthi, Kenya

Kimanthi is a budding filmmaker from Africa and finds passion in telling stories through the lens. He was part of a team that received training in Caux, Switzerland on the use of Media to report, campaign and promote for social change. He has experience engaging with communities for development. He is a jolly fellow who certainly contributes to the passion and the energy within the team.

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