Tag Archives: Congo Leadership Initiative

TransfORming Our Globe – Nate Houghton ‘07

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of Ridley and double Ivy League alumnus, Nate Houghton ‘07, who has dedicated his life to helping Congo youth live flourishing lives through his not-for-profit, the Congo Leadership Initiative.

Nate began his Ridley career in 2005 and although his Ridley career only spanned two years, there was no shortage of lessons taught, skills learned and qualities formed. Nate came to Ridley because of the hockey programme, but soon discovered that more opportunities awaited him within the gates. As a Prefect in his final year, Nate played in the Jazz Band and went to the 2007 World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in South Africa with his fellow Ridleians.

Ridley left Nate feeling well prepared for university. He had refined his time-management skills, found an interest in social impact, was held to a higher standard by his peers and teachers and the Ridley schedule had set him up for success as he moved on to his post-secondary career.

“Ridley helped me to create good habits in order to get things done… I think that a lot of the tactical habit forming things came from the rigor of the schedule.” – Nate Houghton ‘07

Nate went on to study at Cornell, where he studied economics and policy. While there, he took a trip to Congo. He had always had an interest in post-colonial Africa, and he wanted to learn more about their culture and if he could make a positive impact on the community. His visit left a great impression on both him and the youth he encountered on his trip.

It was this trip that inspired Nate to begin the Congo Leadership Initiative (CLI). The CLI is an organization that trains Congo youth to become the leaders of tomorrow – not too unlike Ridley. Through workshops, training and grants, the CLI provides individuals with the tools needed to succeed.

“We develop the next generation of leaders to be catalysts for peace and prosperity in the Congo…If you can combine leadership values with entrepreneurial skills, you have the engine for development. It unlocks the potential that a country really has.” – Nate Houghton ‘07

CLI young leaders in a training session at our Kinshasa Lea CLI young leaders at the PEREX Leadership Institute site

For two years (2010 to 2012), Nate was dedicated to establishing a firm infrastructure for the CLI. With that, he felt confident that he could divide his time to explore his other passions. He worked in New York and studied at Harvard – where he is set to complete his MBA in September – and is currently working for the investment firm, NextGen Venture Partners. Despite his busy schedule, Nate still finds time to work and connect with CLI every day. He has recently been focusing his efforts on fundraising and operations. He hopes that the CLI will be able to extend their efforts and make a larger impact by partnering with other organizations who could then administer training to those in Congo.

Nate possesses the true spirit of a Ridleian and of our school motto – Terar Dum Prosim. He saw a community in need and has ever since dedicated his life to bettering their lives and showing them their potential. To other Ridleians who are unlocking their own potential, Nate has no shortage of advice.

“There is no reason that you can’t do these [kinds of] things. There is nothing that was different about me that made that possible. Anyone can start something…The best decisions I have made are the ones where I am thinking about what is best for other people. Whether it is within the organization or more broadly in the world. The worst decisions I have made are where I knowingly or unknowingly tried to make myself look a certain way… Just being yourself and doing things for other people is really the only thing that matters.” – Nate Houghton ‘07

For those interested in supporting the Congo Leadership Initiative, there are a number of ways to give.


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

 

 

Positive Change Ignites at Ridley College

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

– Nelson Mandela

December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.

Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.

In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.

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As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.

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As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.

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As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.

Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.

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The winning photo of Amnesty International’s photo contest, taken by Ms. Shelley Thomas.

Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.