Posts Tagged ‘Extraordinary Teachers’


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Why Kakenya Ntaiya is Extraordinary

Kakenya Ntaiya underwent female genital mutilation at the age of 13. She opted not to run away, however, to avoid putting her father in a bad light. Another reason why she stayed was the allure of education; not a single woman in her Maasai community had made it to college. Rather, they are usually married-off at an early age. Kakenya herself was engaged to a six-year-old neighbor when she was only five years old. But this woman became the first to complete a college degree with the help of the Maasai community, and gave back by founding a school for girls called “The Kakenya Center for Excellence.”

Undergoing FGM

Kakenya grew up fully aware that she would soon marry a boy who lived next-door and, just like the other women of her Maasai community, serve her family for the rest of her life. But that did not sit well with the young girl who dreamt of becoming a teacher; getting married would stall her, if not stop her altogether, from becoming the person she wanted to be. Rather than walk away, however, she agreed to go through the rite of passage to prepare her for married life in exchange for a few more years in school.

When her father got sick, Kakenya braved to try her luck further. This time, she convinced all 16 of her community’s leaders to allow her to attend a college in the U.S. with the promise of returning one day to help her people.

Founding “The Kakenya Center for Excellence”

It was in the United States where Kakenya came across political terms such as “female genital mutilation,” “human rights” and “child marriages.” She realized that her people’s lack of education had kept them behind. Even worse, thousands of young girls are losing their clitorises and being forced to bear children, in spite of practically being children themselves. Kakenya decided to take on a whole nation and fight against ignorance by providing education to girls like her, and, once more, she appealed to the men who called the shots. They supported her, and “The Kakenya Center for Excellence” was born.

It’s a school for girls that not only gives them quality education, but also allows them to just be kids. Then the magic started happening – the once-timid children became confident. They discovered their talents, and now aim to become pilots, teachers and doctors, and dream just like Kakenya. Now, we hear men say this of her:

“We have several sons who have gone to the United States for school. Kakenya is the only one that I can think of that has come back to help us. What she tells us, it touches us. … She brought a school and a light and is trying to change old customs to help girls get a new, better life.” – Naleke, Maasai Tribal Leader (SOURCE: CNN)

Top Reasons why Kakenya Ntaiya is Extraordinary

  1. She underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) at age 13 to continue going to school rather than shame her father by running away.
  2. She made it to a U.S. college as a scholar.
  3. She gave back to her Maasai Community by establishing “The Kakenya Center for Excellence.”
  4. The prize money she received as a Vital Voices Global Leadership awardee was used to complete the institution.
  5. She was honored as a “National Geographic Emerging Explorer.”
  6. She was also named as one of the “2013 CNN Heroes.”
  7. She was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.”
  8. She was a featured speaker at TEDx Midatlantic Conference.
  9. She was honored with the “Global Women’s Right Award” from the Feminist Majority Foundation and counted among the “Women Deliver 100: The Most Inspiring People Delivering for Girls and Women.”
  10. She received the “Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award” and was named by Women in the World as a “Woman of Impact.”

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He is feisty and isn’t afraid to ask for privileges. He knows how to ask good questions, finds answers, and presents them in a way that saves tons of copious paper and won’t give the reader a headache. He is one of the creators of TED and was the one who saw to it that it takes off. Yes, Richard Saul Wurman is extraordinary even though most find him ridiculously shameless.


Not wanting to be called an author, Richard headed his competent writing staff to release maps, graphs, and books that pique his interest. He wrote about taking care of grandchildren and healthcare. A genius in organizing events, Richard has been awarded for his achievement as a convener.

In 1992, he received Stars of Design lifetime achievement Award and became Chairman of Graphic Design & Product/Industrial Design of the Presidential Design Awards in 1995. The following year, he received the Chrysler Design Award and was twice named one of the 100 elite of the technology industry by Upside magazine. He is also a Hall of Famer at the Art Director’s Club. Just recently, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Awards and Awarded the Arthur Spayed Brooks Gold Medal.

He is responsible for the creation of the following conferences that he also chaired: California 101, TEDSELL, TEDNYC, TED4Kobe in Japan and TEDCity in Toronto.


  1. He is the creator of the prestigious TED Conferences and chaired it for more than a decade. Other conferences he created and chaired are California 101, TEDSELL, TEDNYC, TED4Kobe in Japan, TEDMED and TEDCity in Toronto.
  2. He founded and chaired TEDMED which was eventually sold for millions of dollars.
  3. He is a gifted painter and has won first prize in watercolor painting at the University of Pennsylvania for 3 consecutive years while in college.
  4. He co-authored the first comparative statistical atlas of major American cities.
  5. He once chaired the International Design Conference in Aspen, the annual AIA Conference, and the First Federal Design assembly.
  6. He coined the term “Information Architecture”
  7. He founded Access Press in Los Angeles and created a series of travel guides. He also wrote more than 80 books.
  8. He is inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2003.
  9. He has 3 Honorary degrees.
  10. He is now busy with http://www.www conference, 555, and 19.20.21 since he let TEDMED go.

Xiao Qiang

Posted: October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Xiao Qiang is an internet activist and professor who is most known for founding China Digital Times, an international Chinese news website that publishes more than one hundred articles and posts daily, including those that are being suppressed and blocked by the digital censors in China’s cyberspace. From time he began as a human rights activist after witnessing the Tiananmen Massacre, Xiao has become one of the most significant figures in the area of Chinese democracy and freedom of information.

For his efforts in helping his fellow countrymen, Xiao has been recognized by many institutions and has received a number of awards and honours for his work. This includes the MacArthur Fellowship, a prestigious honor that is given to people that greatly excel in their field of work; and being profiled in the “Soul Purpose: 40 People Who Are Changing the World for the Better”. These, among the other recognitions given to him prove just how significant Xiao’s work has been all these years.


Xiao has always had a heart for helping his countrymen, and this has been proven in the numerous actions that he has taken to ensure that freedom and democracy prevail in his country in ways that he can. And even though he faces a tremendous amount of opposition from powerful authorities in the Chinese mainland, this does not keep Xiao from persistently publishing all the things that the Chinese people and the world needs to know about the situation in his country.

Xiao places a powerful emphasis on the next generation, and as such works passionately to ensure that the events of the infamous Tiananmen Massacre remain in the memories of the generations to come. The Tiananmen Massacre, for Xiao, represents the unyielding desire of the Chinese people for freedom, and once the young people learn its significance, they will become beacons of hope for a new China where democracy prevails.

As Xiao states in an interview:

“This generation will never forget the memory. It’s deep inside their minds. I know it’s still there, and it’s still in a certain way a drive for a more open China in the coming years. Deep down I believe this generation of the Chinese people are the children of that hope, the hope for a democratic China. While this generation now is becoming more and more successful and important in China’s political and economic life, I think that it’s only increasing the chance for China to become a democratic country.”


Xiao has led several human rights organizations in the span of his career, including the New York-based Human Rights in China organization and the World Movement for Democracy. Xiao was also significant in the development and facilitation of the Open Net Consensus forum, which created the principles that most international internet companies adhere to today. Xiao’s involvement in promoting free information in the Chinese cyberspace has led to the establishment of the Global Network Initiative.

The impact of Xiao’s work in the lives of many people, not just his fellow countrymen, is truly extraordinary. His dedication to his work of promoting freedom and democracy, whether in cyberspace or in reality, is a true testament to what a person can accomplish when he puts his whole heart into it. Let Xiao be a powerful inspiration for many of us who want to see change, but do not know how to start – whatever is in your hands, whatever you know – when you have the desire, the ideas will follow.

“China has gone through rapid and profound changes. But you cannot understand the full scale of this change without understanding the impact of the Tiananmen massacre. After 1989 Tiananmen, the Chinese Communist Party had an ultimate fear that if the people know the truth and become involved in political activities, that will be the end of the Chinese Communist Party. What we see happening in China is all the business activity being encouraged, including the foreign investment and technologies. We see even Internet and the cell phones and satellite TVs are flourishing in China because that is a business imperative.”