World Wide Wonder

Photo of Mikala Parnell

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

August 3, 2001

Where are you located:

State 1: Wilmington, NC (28409) State 2: New Hanover County (28403), Brunswick County (28451)

Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

I am stepping up to make change because I see the effect that a distinct lack of cultural literacy has on our world. In today’s age, we have the power to instantaneously connect with millions around the world at our fingertips. With this great power, comes a responsibility to each other. We have to make strides to understand our cultural differences in order to avoid some of the bias and prejudice. Moreover, it’s important to expand our perspective beyond our own communities and into the uniqueness of outside societies. I’m stepping up because these habits develop from a young age, yet I didn’t learn about countries outside of America until 10th grade. By then, many of my viewpoints were already set in stone. I want to bring cultural literacy to younger generations via storybook and gameplay to immerse them in the beauty of the world from a young age.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In our increasingly globalized society, youth can easily come into contact with people across state lines and across oceans and share perspectives with one another. However, as unprecedented as these dialogues are, they can lead to more harm than good if participants are more interested in proselytizing than understanding the views of others. Additionally, it is easy for us to find content that fits comfortably with our current biases.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The GloboLit book, called My Community, is an interactive storybook featuring 7 countries around the world. The book is set up in a scavenger hunt form using fun facts and customs from each country. It’s comprised of about 50 full-color pages in paperback format and filled with immersive photography. The main aim is to highlight the unique and amazing parts of each country. This is with the intent of fostering a curious global nature in young children. The target demographic here would be elementary school children, but it could extend to middle school and parents reading the stories as well. The initiative’s storybook will be distributed as an ebook and as a paperback, both self-published. The ebook edition will be sold through an online retailer/platform such as Amazon. The paperbacks will be promoted and sold in partnership with other community nonprofits and local booksellers. The storybook will be written and ready to publish by Fall 2018. GloboLit is a two-pronged project as well. Thirty-five percent of the total profits from the storybook sales will be used to purchase culturally diverse books for the community center libraries.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Imagine you’re a parent buying a book. You know you want an educational read, something to challenge your kid. You hear about a project called GloboLit and they’re providing books for community center libraries. How can you get involved? Simple, by buying a book. Not only do you help to contribute to the library, but you and your child gain knowledge about something new. Now imagine you’re a child at a local community center or school. You walk into the library and find an entire section of books about the world. Looking at the pictures, you find that these people look like you and you’re not used to this as your community is underrepresented. You also find books about people like your friends and even people you’ve never met before to learn about. That’s the power of the multifaceted GloboLit system. It’s impact is felt on both ends, a double-edged sword working to serve the community

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

In our increasingly global society, it’s essential that future generations connect with a range of people and views. However, the idea of cultural literacy tends to be pushed into the shadows. Few non-profits address this issue, despite it affecting our everyday lives. GloboLit will promote the cultural literacy that today’s youth need to succeed. Our initiative will: Add to the number of diverse texts available to consumers. Introduce global perspective which builds tolerance and appreciation for diversity. Teach cultural literacy early, opening youth up to new perspectives.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We’ve gotten feedback from multiple sources on our project, and have found it to be very inspiring to others. Many people don’t realize the effect that the international community has on their day to day life. Here are a few of the perspectives we’ve gotten from community members. Perspective #1 - “I think it’s a very caring idea because it takes into accounts different people’s perspectives and helps to broaden their horizons. I like how it positively affects two groups, both the people who receive the books and those who use the library.” Perspective #2 - “This is definitely something that is needed since the world is globalizing. I especially like the donation because then you’re promoting cultural literacy in multiple ways. It’s definitely something unique and different, that makes culture more accessible at the base. Since it’s a storybook, it will feel more like fun than learni

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

After the storybook is published and selling steadily, we want to expand to a mobile game to provide our readers with additional content and reach a wider audience. People who order our book will receive a code that allows them to download the game for free. The game can also be purchased for a set price without the code. In the game, players aim to complete missions by solving puzzles and answering questions based in global cultures and geography. As players complete missions, they win badges and go up levels. A global leaderboard for various in-game statistics will be available for players to view. The game will have multiple difficulty levels to suit the preferences of a variety of players.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Storybook -Website for sales -Web specialist/digital editor -Marketing and sales resource -Funds for marketing materials --To scale nationally at a point in the future -Money for initial printing of storybook App -App programmer(s) -Seed money for app design and launch -Funds for marketing costs

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We would love to work with other young people who are just as passionate about cultural literacy and have skills that are not currently represented on our team such as illustrating, web programming, and app design. Additionally, we would like to interview a number of young people from a range of global backgrounds so we can authentically represent the lives of youth in nations and cultures we showcase in our storybook and in our mobile game. We have already contacted the GLOW School of Wilmington, an all-girls charter school in Wilmington, NC with a large percentage of minority students. We organized a meeting with a board member of the school who is interested in adding a culturally diverse element to the library they are currently creating for the school. Funds from the storybook sales would go toward adding to this collection. Another contact that we’ve made is a business advisor for Coastal Women’s Ventures, a non-profit program that focuses on helping women to start their own small businesses. With her guidance, we were able to run a cost analysis on our project as well as determine the logistics of running a non-profit company such as this one.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Article in the news
  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

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Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 60%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 20%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 40%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 40%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 50%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 20%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 20%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 40%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Parum Misri

This seems like a really great initiative! The world is continually becoming a more culturally diverse place, and educating youth about it is a prime responsibility. I look forward to seeing how far you go with this!

Photo of Mikala Parnell

Yes, I agree. There is a lot changing in the world and as we become more interconnected, it's important to reflect that in our education. I'm excited about the implications of this initiative as well, thank you!

Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

Photo of Mikala Parnell

Thank you so much! I appreciate the support and I'm very excited to see how far this initiative will go in this process. :)

Photo of Jennifer

It is awesome that you are stepping up to make others more culturally aware! This is especially necessary as our community becomes more diverse and global. Great Idea! Check my project out and see if you're interested in collaborating or have any questions.

Photo of Mikala Parnell

Thanks so much! I checked out your project as well. Looks interesting!

Photo of Tyler Vogel

What an awesome idea Mikala Parnell I know I would have loved something like this is elementary school. The percentage proceeds helping provide cultural diverse literature for community libraries is a very nice touch.

Photo of Mikala Parnell

Thank you!

Photo of Meagan Warren

This is such a great idea!! I have nonprofit called Books For Bedtime. My goal is to get books into the hands of children who and them and to inspire youth philanthropy. Perhaps we could work together to help your book become even more widespread once it is officially out?

Photo of Mikala Parnell

That's really interesting! Yes, we'd love to commit to a collaboration project! Personally, I'd love it ig you were interested in providing a diverse collection of books to children as well.

Photo of Carson McBain

I'm so happy to see you tackling the issue of cultural literacy in America. This is an issue dear to my heart, because as a young student growing up in Indiana I felt very frustrated with how hyper-focused my early education was on American history and geography. We rarely did any in-depth study of other countries, except for when we learned about how they related to American history. It's appalling that in high school I could name every state capital and major river in America but I could name less than half the countries in Africa. It took traveling outside the US to give me that perspective in my 20s. So I fully support this project! I wonder, what was your criteria for selecting the 7 countries? I realize you have to keep the material approachable and relatively simple for a children's book, but in the online game version maybe you could reward students after the complete the first 7 countries with the next level of countries, and that way you could progressively teach them about all of the major countries in the world instead of limiting to just 7. Also, I would ask yourself, what sets this project apart from existing world culture books? If you can articulate that, I think it will help you gain even more support and spread your message to a wider audience. Fully support what you're doing!

Photo of Mikala Parnell

Hi Carson! I'm glad you feel personally connected to this topic. To answer your questions, I choose 7 countries to somewhat mimic the idea of 7 continents. The main criteria in choosing them was to pick vastly different societies as well as countries that a child may not know much about. In the event of gameplay, we would likely extend pass those 7 countries. In fact, we would probably choose completely new locations in order to really broaden our awareness output. What really sets this project apart is that it targets younger students and engages them in a worldly way that is not typically seen in children's literature. The proceeds from the book also go towards furthering literacy for less financially-able schools which is another big plus factor of this project. Thank you so much for your support!