International Studies & Programs

GYLN Participates in Sunwah Foundation’s 2023 Innovation Challenge

Back to News

Published: Thursday, 14 Dec 2023 Author: Global Youth Advancement Network

Since 2020, the Global Youth Advancement Network (GYAN) at MSU has partnered with the Sunwah Foundation —the philanthropic arm of the Sunwah Group, a Hong Kong based international conglomerate. The Sunwah Foundation supports the Global Young Leaders Network (GYLN), a diverse, global community of outstanding young leaders between the ages of 18 and 25 who volunteer themselves to grow and develop global awareness, leadership skills, and commitment to public and social services. The GYLN chapter at MSU is the first chapter based in the USA, joining a network of ten existing chapters across the globe. 


In 2023, the Sunwah Foundation issued an Innovation Challenge. Through this challenge, GYLN chapters form one to two teams to propose an innovative idea for a useful and functional product, service, or art-related project. This challenge provides an excellent way for GYLN chapters to invigorate their members, work together to gain practical knowledge and experience in innovation,and serve their communities. Additionally, the top one to two teams who win the challenge will receive a free trip to an international location to learn more about innovation. 

GYAN is proud to have supported the MSU GYLN chapter in their submission of two proposals to the Innovation Challenge—one focused on increasing access to interactive, multilingual books for non-English speaking members of the East Lansing community, and the other focused on clean waste to cultivate more sustainable community practices.

The “Book, Song, Story Project” is designed to fill a gap identified by the local community library, the Capital Area District Library (CADL). After learning that the library lacks access to books, traditional stories, nursery rhymes, and other resources published in multiple languages and presenting non-Eurocentric viewpoints, the MSU GYLN Innovation Challenge team developed Libro, Norse, Dastan: Book, Song, Story, a multilingual book of children’s stories and nursery rhymes from around the world. Each selection in this book will be translated into English and five other high-need languages to meet the needs of the Capital Area District Library, such as Spanish, Arabic, Persian/Farsi, Chinese, and Swahili, among others. This book proposes a new model of translated books that are not centered around English readers, innovating a new type of children’s book where exchange and learning occur directly from one language to another without having to be filtered through English first.

grace CADL book drive.jpg
MSU GYLN President Grace Urban at the CADL Book Drive in spring of 2023.

The idea for the “Book, Song, Story Project” stems from the continuation of a previous project organized by MSU’s GYLN chapter in partnership with the Capital Area District LIbrary. In the spring of 2023, two members worked together on a Sunwah Foundation funded “mini-grant” to promote language and multicultural learning. These students conducted a book drive across MSU’s campus to benefit the Capital Area District Library and the communities it serves, collecting and donating more than 300 books. The students also used funds from the mini-grant to purchase high-demand, multilingual text and audio books in target languages to further supplement the books collected through the drive. 

The “Clean Waste Project” envisions cultivating innovative social attitudes and behaviors towards waste management among GYLN members and beyond. This project embraces a holistic approach to tackle waste management challenges through the transformation of waste into art. By collecting waste items and creatively repurposing the materials into quilts, fabric collages, or new materials that can be used for jewelry-making, the team will work together to produce art objects that can then be donated, or sold to community members with the proceeds channeled to support broader environmental initiatives. These products will enhance community awareness of proper waste management, as well as fostering a spirit of responsibility and community innovation among the team members. This initiative will not only promote environmental consciousness, but also foster artistic self-expression to forge a sense of belonging, diversity, and inclusion among the team members and their community. 

MSU’s GYLN Innovation Challenge team is made up of the following members: 

  • Nma Dhahir is an exchange student from Lebanon’s American University of Beirut studying Nutrition and Dietetics at MSU
  • Raymond Musiima is an MBA student at MSU earning his Masters of Business Administration
  • Harmoniee Scott is a freshman at MSU studying Games and Interactive Media Design with a Korean Language minor
  • Chloe Stewart is a freshman at MSU studying Astrophysics with a Korean minor
  • Grace Urban is a junior at MSU studying Genomics and Molecular Genetics with a Chinese minor

GYAN is proud to champion these young leaders in their efforts to invigorate their chapter, support their communities, and create long-lasting change. Good luck, MSU GYLN!