In the paragraphs below you can read my application for the TED Fellows 2012 Program.
What is your current primary activity? *
I am a participant of the Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University (SU) with a full scholarship. I am part of the Poverty to Prosperity Team at SU that is developing an alternative transportation system to positively impact one billion humans within the next 10 years. We have focused our effort in the African Continent.
I am also the Experience Lead at Ocean University. Ocean is a platform for Ocean Education, Design and Community Outreach that aims to connect people and bring knowledge from everywhere to everyone.
According to United Nations estimates, well over 100 Million people will be Climate Refugees by 2050. The total impact will exceed over a fourth of the world population by that time. By focusing in this problem space, Ocean aims to integrate Design to tackle the world’s greatest opportunities ahead.
The initial stage is to create hubs around the world in communities where we can have an impact. The hubs are called Ocean Studios. They are retrofitted shipping containers and their function is unique in their community: they can be biodiversity research centers, telemedicine clinics, hydroponic gardens, remote classrooms, co-working spaces, youth arts & applied design outreach centers.
After creating the network of hubs, we will go on a global expedition in a dedicated cruise ship. We plan to engage designers, activists, researchers and students in a unique open platform for experiential learning. Thus, using the hubs and linking in-country expertise with a global team of people committed to better the world.
By virtue of being on a ship, we hope to drastically increase Oceanographic research, better understand climate change and fundamentally understand how humans live and work in contained environments.
What are you best known for? *
I am best known for connecting people and finding alchemy on ideas that on the surface may be too different from each other.
I deeply enjoy applying media to communicate and share knowledge. This is why I have a background in Instructional Design.
This passion of connecting people has allowed me to live, work and travel around the world. I find and share the stories between groups of people and hope that we all gain a common ground.
What other achievements (not only academic) would you like to share? *
I was born in a middle class family in Mexico. During my childhood there was a period of hardship. At the age of six my Father passed away and ever since that moment my Mother inspired us to educate ourselves and be curious about the world we live in.
When I think of my achievements, I first think of my Mother. Without her I wouldn’t have two very successful sisters. We all speak at least another language, One of my sisters has a double-Masters and the other has a PhD.
I think the biggest achievement is that I no longer believe there is a brick wall that could block any of my dreams, hopes and aspirations. It is passion, curiosity and purpose that define everyday of my life. It is sometimes tough, I won’t deny it, but through perseverance I’ve found that what I want to do in life finds a way of happening much much faster when you are in the service of others.
I don’t believe in “Giving Back” to my community. I believe on “Taking Forward”. What is the point of existence if you can’t improve the community that you are part of?
Beyond your work and studies, what are you passionate about? (e.g. hobbies, causes, activities, issues — please do not talk about your work in this section) *
I am passionate about connecting people and social justice. In this intersection, I have been able to volunteer as a guest lecturer on race relations, intercultural communications and as facilitator of LGBT Safe Space training programs.
Most recently, at Singularity University, I led the effort to create the first series of videos in support of the It Gets Better Project which brought together students, faculty, staff, a few Astronauts and even Ray Kurzweil himself.
I am passionate about people and I don’t believe in a world with injustice or access to knowledge. For every opportunity I have had and have enjoyed, I take forward the dreams, hopes and aspirations of people around me whose life experience has been different by no fault of their own, and clearly not by a limit on their creative potential.
I am passionate about walking the walk and building a better present together, it will only be then when the future will take care of itself.
Share an example of something you have been a part of (including created, led, or joined) that you consider unique, even if no one else does. Why do you think it is mould breaking? (Limit 2250 characters) *
In March of 2011, I joined the 2011 Inspire Antarctica Expedition by invitation of Sir Robert Swan, OBE, the first man in history to have walked to the South Pole and to the North Pole.
I worked as Communications Officer for Sir Robert Swan’s organization, 2041: For The Preservation Of Antarctica. For a period of 10 days in King George Island, I led the creation of podcasts for Elementary School kids and pre-engineering students on topics ranging from Sustainability, Climate Change and Renewable Energy. The podcasts where recorded at 2041‘s Educational Base which is powered fully by renewable energy. In fact, the Educational Base was the first registered “Innovation Hub” by TED Fellow, Apurv Mishra at Future.ly
I think it is unique because Antarctica is the only place in the world where governments have come together and dedicated this place as a land for Peace, Science and Exploration. Nowhere on Earth can you find a unique environment as Antarctica, be it politically and environmentally.
Ever since Antarctica, I have a pressing need to share the story of the continent as it is the one place in the world that is being most heavily affected by climate change. The Antarctic Peninsula is, effectively, the fastest warming place in the world.
What questions should we have asked, but didn’t? Please write them down and answer them! (in other words, tell us something about yourself that we don’t know yet). (Limit 2250 characters) *
“What is Curiosity to you?”
Curiosity to me is the ability to ask and find answers to everything. We live in a time where access to information has greatly expanded and the pursuit of curiosity can lead to the discovery of one’s passion or the realization that there will be more questions that follow how answers have been created. Here lies also the chance and the choice to come up with a new answer all together. In fact, it is not so much a new answer but the internalization that answers are perceptions of reality, yet reality itself is a personal experience.
Living in this intersection brings joy to my life. To ask something and to answer something is a continuum and it is something engaging and delightful.
Curiosity led me to write my first letter in English to NASA when I was eight years old and an envelope came back with fantastic pictures of the Solar System (Pluto included). This led me to be more curious about Science and then to study Physics and 20 years from that letter, I am writing this application inside NASA Ames Research Park while attending Singularity University. Life comes back at you!
Can you share a memorable anecdote from your life that will give us a further sense of what makes you tick?
In September of 2007 I was given a full grant by the Institute of International Education to be part of the inaugural voyage of The Scholar Ship, a Royal Caribbean-backed multi-country study abroad program based on a dedicated passenger cruise ship. In a period of 16 weeks, we traveled to Greece, Portugal, Panama, Ecuador, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and China.
Two weeks into the program I was highly disturbed by the amount of food waste we had in a close community of 250 participants from 55 countries. It made me tick!
Since The Scholar Ship was all about experiential learning, I decided to lead the effort and coordinate an Oxfam Hunger Banquet on the Ship. This was an optional activity but it required great coordination between the crew of the ship, the safety officer, the kitchen staff, the navigational officer, etc.
It was a logistical nightmare to plan this in only 72 hours but we did it and it was extremely successful. Over 95% of the program participants where there and a two-hour event became a 9-hour experience that led to talks about how we would then engage in projects to combat poverty, social justice, our student community aboard, our sustainability efforts and who we were in this defining moment of our lives.
The outcomes sprung far beyond reducing 80% our food waste, but it allowed us to set the slate clean and come together as a community.
This activity made me realize how much ethos I had in the community and how much trust I had in such a short time. To be able to convince a community to join me in a unique experiment while at sea was beyond amazing.
How did you hear about the TED Fellows program?
I first heard about the program in 2007 from the TED website. I have been applying every year since the fellows program started.
Have you participated in TED before? If so, to what extent? (e.g. you watch TEDTalks, you’ve attended / hosted / spoken at a TEDx event, you’re a TEDTranslator, etc)
I have been involved through social media channels. In 2004, I created the first facebook TED group that grew to over 35,000 members by the time that the official TED Facebook Page was introduced.
To quote Chris Anderson, I am a “TED Enthusiast”.
In 2010, I had the opportunity to attend TEDxOilSpill in Washington DC.