- Get Involved
- Connect with Leaders
- Leadership Stories
- Research and Tools
Gelek Badheytsang, like many young men arriving in a new country, settled in Canada not sure about his place in this new home. Even after graduating from high school and studying in university, he found himself aimless and disconnected. It was during his stay in Vancouver, BC, where he met student activists, that he started to become active and engaged.
Through various non-violent actions, protests, and campaigns, Gelek soon became immersed in the world of grassroots activism. It was an exciting and pivotal time, which came to a head during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when he and his group took full advantage of the spectacle to make noise and raise awareness on human rights and freedoms in Tibet.
After his stint with the group, Gelek opted to apply his passion and skills on the environmental and community building front. While he participated in many successful projects and was proud of his work in these areas, he was taken aback by the disconnect between the progressive aims of the environment sector, and the lack of diversity among its leaders, including the organization he worked for. He called a staff meeting to talk about this. Much to his surprise and dismay, what started as a frank and open discussion on diversity soon became an emotional and contentious meeting. The exercise was, by all accounts, a failure, with one staff person walking out of the room in tears. The experience left him perplexed. “Was it my belief? Was it my tactics?” he wondered.
Gelek was one of 27 city-builders selected for DiverseCity Fellows. He explained how Fellows transformed his self-doubt into possibility. “It’s been so affirming to find a place for people like me who raise questions,” he said. Along with the sessions and workshops, he was excited to meet the other Fellows, many of whom could relate to his experience and thoughts. And also offer advice and inspiration. “There are activists in all shapes and sizes,” he now believes. “All the creativity and passion of the Fellows does a lot of good.”