Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Craig Kielburger article

Yep, it might be obvious that I think Craig Kielburger is pretty cool... And incidently we will be reading articles about Craig and his brother Marc. Here's one from Canadian Living...

"The Accidental Activists: Craig and Marc Kielburger"

This is the story of how Craig and Marc Kielburger came to be the activists they are today.
By Chistine Langlois

Marc Kielburger apologizes for the mess as he moves stacks of files, unopened mail and brochure material off an old sofa. With posters tacked to the walls and mismatched furniture, the space feels more like student digs than the downtown Toronto office of the executive director of Free the Children (FTC), a $4-million charity. And Marc, in blue jeans with a couple of unopened sub sandwiches sitting beside his laptop, looks more like a young intern who's just getting his feet wet than the boss of this successful organization. But appearances can be deceiving.

As social activists with a string of accomplishments between them, Marc and his more famous brother, Craig, have been meeting and exchanging views with celebrities, world thinkers and thousands of kids and adults on children's rights issues as well as peace building and volunteering initiatives since they were young teens growing up in Thornhill, Ont. FTC, an international network that has built more than 400 schools in developing countries, was launched by Craig when he was just 12. Its sister organization, Leaders Today, offers leadership programs and volunteer opportunities to young people abroad.

Big accomplishments
These days, Marc, a former Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Harvard and Oxford, oversees the various facets of the brothers' good works while Craig has taken on the role of full-time student at the University of Toronto. While he clears a spot on his office couch, Marc talks about the "amazing" (a trademark expression) time he and his partner, Roxanne Joyal, had the night before. They were in Santa Barbara, Calif., for an FTC meeting and had lunch with the American journalism titan Walter Cronkite, an honorary adviser to the organization. Walter asked them to stay for dinner. At the time, the November 2004 presidential election was days away and Walter wanted to talk politics and share stories from his six decades covering campaigns. "He gave us the most incredible history lesson," says the 27-year-old, with obvious excitement. As soon as he could, Marc got on the phone to tell his younger brother, Craig, all about the eventful night.

Craig, 21, was a tad jealous. Instead of rubbing shoulders with a media icon in balmy California, he took time away from his studies to take on the less glamorous – but equally important – task of wading through an early snowfall in Red Deer, Alta., to give a speech on behalf of FTC (one of 70 he gives a year) and hand out awards to rural kids involved in farming. One recipient was being honoured for his innovative idea for saving threatened farms. "It was worth the trip," says Craig sincerely.

And the award goes to...
The two brothers have received a slew of awards for their work. Craig has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Marc was named one of Canada's Top 40 under 40 in 2003. Given all that they've accomplished, you can't help but wonder before you meet this pair just what you're in for. Can two brothers, still in their 20s, who have experienced so much and achieved so much for so many, still be just a couple of nice normal guys?

Fortunately, yes. Both Marc and Craig are as down-to-earth as they come; they're both warm, friendly and quick to laugh. Craig is a people person who listens intently and asks lots of questions. He talks about how much fun he has connecting to the young children he meets in his travels by making faces and playing peekaboo games with them. Marc peppers his conversation with adjectives such as "cool" and finishes every conversation about his work with some statement that reveals just how fortunate he feels to be doing it. And both brothers will modestly tell you they believe that everyone, in his or her own
way, can do what they both do. "We're both accidental activists," says Marc, adding they slowly got hooked on the joys of helping others.

Where it all began
Craig's role model for getting involved in social change was brother Marc. At 13, Marc became interested in environmental issues and eventually developed environmentally friendly cleaning products for a high school science project. He started collecting names on petitions for various environmental initiatives and enlisted his little brother, Craig, to help out. "He'd get me to go up and ask the girls to sign. They always would because I was so cute," says Craig, laughing.

So the seed of social consciousness was already planted when at age 12 Craig read with great dismay in the morning paper about the killing of another 12-year-old, Iqbal Masih, a freed child labourer from Pakistan. Indeed, he was so moved by Iqbal's struggles to end child labour and his eventual murder that he couldn't stop thinking about it. "I was shocked, and then I thought, What can I do? I'm only one person."

They caught the charity bug
But then Craig recalled Marc's zeal in raising people's awareness of environmental issues and that struck a chord. "I remember thinking, If he could do it, I can, too." A few weeks later, with the help of his school librarian, Craig had gathered enough information and mustered up the courage to talk to his Grade 7 class about child labour and ask if other kids wanted to join a group to fight against it. That first step back in 1995 eventually led to the participation of hundreds of thousands of children in 35 countries.

Craig and Marc's parents, Theresa and Fred, now retired schoolteachers, were big on supporting their kids in whatever they wanted to try. But they didn't set out to raise activists. Marc and Craig simply dragged them, but not unwillingly, along for the ride. "Sometimes our parents wonder where we really came from," jokes Marc.

Theresa is reluctant to discuss her sons and their work. But she's happy to talk about what she contributed to their outlook and values as a parent, which was teaching her sons to be aware of the world around them and making sure they had chances to learn from real-life experiences. "Kids become so desensitized by television and the media," says Theresa. "It's important to sensitize them, and you have to do it when they are young." Theresa talks about using small gestures – stopping to have a conversation with a homeless person rather than just handing over change, or asking a child to imagine what it feels like to be the kid in the class who everyone teases. These simple gestures raise kids' respect for others who are less fortunate.

Exceeding expectations
But Theresa and Fred got more than they bargained for when Craig took the idea of real-life experiences to the extreme. At age 13 he begged to go off to Asia for seven weeks to meet child labourers and learn about their lives firsthand with a human-rights worker who agreed to accompany him. Again Marc had already blazed the trail. He and Roxanne, who Marc met in his high school days and is now involved with Leaders Today, had taken time off from university to do volunteer work in Thailand with mothers and babies with HIV/AIDS. Still, it took Craig a long time to convince Mom and Dad to let him venture off to Asia, although it was something he clearly wanted so deeply. Theresa and Fred finally agreed once they were assured that the trip would be safe and Craig had raised half the airfare himself.

For years, Craig and Marc's endeavours took over the Kielburger home, which was the former FTC headquarters. "Sometimes I'd have 50 kids in the house," says Theresa. Marc adds that they often had dinner sitting on the couch because the dining room table was covered with FTC material. Eventually Theresa and Fred put their feet down and reclaimed their home. The FTC office moved to downtown Toronto a couple of years ago, but the family house still serves as the warehouse for its supplies, with spare bedrooms, the basement and garage filled floor to ceiling with school kits, medical supplies and furniture – all waiting to be sent to new projects. "We have never parked our car in the garage – never. It's always full of stuff being shipped to Africa or South America," says Theresa.

Want to read more??? Check out the full article at Canadian Living...(See above)

Here's yet another video about leadership and making a difference "One Person at a Time"
Think about - What contribution can I make to the world? What can I do as one person??

A speech from the Dalai Lama at the ME to WE conference in Vancouver, 2009...
This is pretty neat... Just listen...How can you use time more constructively to make a difference??