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How a Sixteen Year old Student from Toronto came to travel the world to tell a story of Unity



“I see art as a cultural bridge to understanding who we are and what part we play in society.” –Kasha Sequoia Slavner, Global Sunrise Project

She was a sixteen year old Toronto student when she asked her mother if she could travel the world and unite people with a journey of understanding. Not only young at heart and in age, but inexperienced as a filmmaker who was willing to travel the world to make the difference.  An inspiring dream combined with the willingness to create a new possibility for a better tomorrow secured her the intestinal fortitude to find the way to do it.

Now at twenty years of age, a beautifully inspired story of resilence in-the-can with more to come, Mobilized spent a little time with the Toronto native to discuss the who, what, where, when, why’s and how of making her journey.

About the initiative, The Global Sunrise Project
We create media that inspires people to make positive change. The Global Sunrise Project was founded on the premise that there is a need for an alternative narrative, one of resilience, passion, and hope. By sharing stories of people who have triumphantly overcome adversity, we can learn about what it means to make the world a better place despite all obstacles. Tackling complex issues can be difficult, but the mindset we use to approach them is key. We, at the Global Sunrise Project believe that using visual storytelling can empower others to take action for themselves and communities and come together as global citizens.

How do you see art and media empowering a healthier society?

I see art as a cultural bridge to understanding who we are and what part we play in society. It can reflect the best (and worst) of our humanity back to us. Media for the most part has not done this but if used to inspire and make people aspire to be better, then I think it can have an empowering role as well. That’s why I look for uplifting stories to tell as it gives people an opportunity to self-reflect on what becomes possible.

In your experience, what are some of the most effective bridge building solutions that help people work better together and overcome misunderstandings?

Active listening, peacebuilding circles, collaborative art making, sharing meals together, finding things in common are all good tools to help bridge their misunderstandings.

What is it about your project or initiatives that separate you from others in the same field or sector?

My work is in the positive media sector and what separates my initiative from others in the same field is my perspective as a young global citizen and the work I do in the educational sector to empower youth. I would also say that no two content creators are alike – every storyteller has something to contribute.

What are some of the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

Some of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced include not having people take me seriously enough when I started my project at 14 with no resources and no real experience in the field but just a passion to learn and to dream. I overcame this by just following through on everything I promised I would deliver – a feature film, a book, exhibitions, and more. I refused to give in to negativity and pursued my dream no matter how hard it was and it was really hard but I’m glad I persisted. So I would say believing in your own vision and persistence is very important.

What are some of your new and upcoming projects that you could talk about?

I’m really excited about the educational workshop and toolkit I’m developing to accompany my feature documentary The Sunrise Storyteller.

How do you best overcome misunderstandings of your work and efforts?

I try not to take things so personal because I realize that my work might not appeal to everyone, but so long as it is making a positive impact with some, I’ll keep going.

How do you stay inspired?

I stay inspired by having real conversations with people about things that matter. I surround myself with people who have a positive outlook and who are doing their best to make a difference in their own lives and communities in whatever way they can. I love to read and expand my horizons through travel, creating art, eating well and exercising.

If ever you thought of handing in the towel and giving up, what did you do or who did you turn to to get your focus back?

Everyone has tough times and it’s important to have a good support network. In these tough times I’m lucky to have my mom & best friend, my boyfriend and close friends to turn to who love me unconditionally and remind me of the importance of what I am doing.

What words of advice would you offer others who have some sort of dream different than those of their peers?

Be a leader, even if it means, standing alone. Your dream matters and there will be people who will see the vision you have and come to support it. Don’t listen to people who would try to bring you down or play smaller than you are. We have much more potential than we even realize.

What is the biggest misunderstanding that you have encountered and how did you overcome it, or build a bridge?

This may sound strange but it’s been internal. Sometimes I’ve been my own harshest critic and so to overcome this, I’ve taken on a mindful practice of yoga, learning Emotional Freedom Techniques and other holistic tools for self healing to help me gain confidence and control my negative self-talk.

Kasha Sequioa Slavner

About the Global Sunrise Project
The Global Sunrise Project was founded by Kasha Sequoia Slavner, a Canadian student living in Toronto. At the age of 14, Kasha was the youngest member to join Canada’s longest-standing and only feminist peace organization, The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW). Since then, she has accompanied the organization as a youth delegate six times on their annual trip down to New York to The Commission on The Status of Women at the United Nations. After attending her first UN conference, and hearing incredible stories of grassroots organizations efforts to find positive and sustainable solutions to daunting obstacles faced within their communities, she was inspired to create The Global Sunrise Project to put her storytelling talents to use for social good and to motivate others to take action as well. She pitched the idea to her mom, Marla Slavner. Through a series of crowdsource funding campaigns, in-kind sponsorships, and mentorships, the mother-daughter duo set out to East Africa and South East Asia in June of 2014 for 6 months to gather stories for The Global Sunrise Project. |


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