The Walking School Bus: We live in an age of globalization where each of us is capable of reaching millions in moments. On the one hand it’s an opportunity, on the other it’s an obligation.

We live in an age of globalization where each of us is capable of reaching millions in moments. On the one hand it’s an opportunity, on the other it’s an obligation.

NEWS 1130


'Access in Motion' teaches kids about education challenges in other countries

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver man is on a mission to help raise local awareness about how difficult it can be to access education in other parts of the world.

Founder of The Walking School Bus Aaron Friedland explains the Access in Motion walk around the Langara golf course is intended to replicate the same distance some students have to go to get to school.

He hopes by participating, local students will gain a better understanding of how fortunate they are here. “We actually want to help raise awareness surrounding this issue but we also want to raise awareness in Vancouver to teach local students and families about their luxury of access to education and to really understand how fortunate they are to access it so readily.”

“So we are hoping to raise $25,000 which will cover the cost of buying one of our school buses in Uganda. That is what we are hoping to raise for that and then we are actually taking a group of 18 people to Uganda this summer.”

He adds the school benefiting from the bus is interfaith, teaching Muslim, Christian and Jewish students.

The walk takes place at The Langara Golf Course at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Click HERE for registration details.

I was bowled over by schools in Dharvi slums: Friedland

How imperative is education? Is it the really the right of every child in the world, like the Indian Government has so expressly declared? No, says social entrepreneur and educator Aaron Friedland.  He certainly doesn’t follow that school of thought. He believes that education is the passport to human development and not merely a right. This belief pushed Friedland, who had a stint with UN Watch, to travel to countries across the world, including Uganda, South Africa and India and start a foundation called The Walking School Bus.

"In Uganda, we are doing a few things. In terms of access, we are raising funds to buy community school buses as many students have to walk over five kilometres to reach their schools now," Friedland said, speaking on his noble initiative to

"Our community supports agricultural programmes. One of the biggest problems in Uganda is that they have iron deficiency. We worked with a few economists to develop an economic model. So, given our land constraint and given the fact that we want iron, we found out the best way to grow four crops - kale, sweet potatoes, sweet peas and spinach - which are rich in iron," Friedland added.

The remarkable fact is that school students in Uganda are farming these crops. As a part of the initiative, every student volunteers to work on the field for two hours every day.

"It is something that should have happened a long time ago. To learn about farming is important.  Students don't usually learn about agricultural best practice. They don't have the opportunity to change their agricultural ways. They know only what their father taught them," Friedland said.

In the present times, technology plays a major role in educating children in rural and urban areas alike. It has also acted as a big assistance in relation to the spread of social endeavours.

Explaining the role of technology, Friedland said, “The smart phone usage and technology usage is an amazing opportunity to be giving access to people to apps and education tools which improves learning outcomes. We can reach various groups of people at the lowest cost. For instance, there are different social norms in South Africa, Uganda and Kerala and each of these places need to have different styles and different methods. Technology enables us to actually craft the message in different manner.”

“In the next five years, you'll have 200 million Indians using smart phones and you have more than that who are illiterate. You have this wealth of technology and usage of technology and I think the two can be brought together quite beautifully,” he said referring to India.

Although The Walking School Bus has not initiated any project in India yet, Friedland’s quest to spread education brought him to the country. He visited schools in Kerala, Mumbai’s Dharavi slums and Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur. What took the social entrepreneur by surprise, however, were schools in Mumbai slums which he had expected to be similar to what he had read in Shantaram!  

“I have spent a bit of my time in the Dharavi slums and visited schools there. I had these preconceived notions that Dharavi slums could be more reminiscent of Shantaram. Something that completely bowled me over was that schools in the slum had nine computers. It was a city with schools and computers!” Friedland said cracking up.

There are other aspects about India which impressed the Vancouver-based social worker. “One thing that really opened my eyes in India is that students can speak five languages. Most of the people with whom I come into contact, speak English way better than any of my friends back in Vancouver. I mean, while there are problems, the education system is quite remarkable. Every student that I meet here, they don't have arrogance that westerners have. They maybe the best masala dosa maker, best singer, best artist or whatever, but they aren’t arrogant,” Friedland added.

Now, Friedland wishes to bring his model to India and is looking for the right set of people. “It is like a franchise and I want people to come forward to help us bring our idea here. I would like to work in India because I see India as one of the most remarkable opportunity. I would like to bring our organisation here, at least bring a few chapters here in Delhi,” Friedland signed off.


The Citizen: World Changing Ideas At TEDxDTU

The Citizen is proud to be the media partner for, TEDxDTU that is happening on 18 April at Delhi Technological University from 11 AM - 7 PM. TEDx events are locally organized conferences licensed under TED, a non-profit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading. It features renowned speakers from across the globe, under the theme “Deconstructing Perceptions; Reconstructing Identities” to make for a stimulating experience. 

“TEDxDTU returns to Delhi Technological University after 4 years. We are innovating at the best level according to TED standards and look forward to deliver a promising event.” quotes Angad Grover, Curator – TEDxDTU. 

Catering to the positive response, TEDxDTU invites registrations until 15th April on its 

Few speakers include:

• Dr. Ashok Seth - He is a Padma Bhushan recipient and the current Chairman of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi and Head, Cardiology Council of Fortis Group of Hospitals. His contributions in the field of Cardiology, especially Interventional Cardiology have been recognised extensively in India as well as across the world. 

• Mr. Dilip Chhabria – Founder of DC Design (Dilip Chhabria Design Center Pvt Ltd) and an entrepreneur with an unabated love for cars. His obsession with the four-wheeled man-made comfort vehicle has influenced millions in India and around the globe. 

• Ms. Richa Chadda - She is an Indian actress who has repeatedly garnered accolades through her consistent portrayal of unconventional characters in what is often sighted as parallel cinema. She is known for her phenomenal roles in movies like Gangs of Wassaypur, Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, Fukrey and many more. She is also a winner of the Filmfare, Stardust and Screen Awards. 

• Mr. Anurag Batra - He is the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of exchange4media group which includes, PITCH, IMPACT, Realty Plus and Franchise Plus. Since the turn of the century his enterprise has been successfully consolidating their stake in a niche yet competitive segment. He is also the Chairman of Business World Magazine. 

• Ms. Alisha Abdullah – India’s first female national racing champion, created history when she became the first woman to secure a podium finish in the VW Polo National Cup. 

• Mr. Aaron Friedland - Founder and Executive Director of The Walking School Bus, an organization which aims to help students worldwide access education. His personal experiences in conjunction to his work at UN Watch opened his eyes to myriad barriers to education including poverty, distance to school and lack of nutrition. 

• Mr. Roger David - Better known by his stage name Bohemia, he is a Pakistani-American rapper, songwriter and record producer from California regarded as the first ever Punjabi rapper. 

• Mr. Taru Dalmia - Also known by his stage name ‘Delhi Sultanate’, he is a Delhi-based poet and hip hop/dancehall MC who also happens to be an academic historian and social activist. 

• Dr. Shivangi Maletia – An established doctor with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, she still pursued her dream of modelling and went on to be awarded the titles of Mrs. Heritage World 2015, Miss Ethnic 2015, Mrs. India Worldwide 2014. 

• Mr. Rajiv Mehrotra - An Indian writer, television producer-director, and documentary ilm maker. He is best known as the former acclaimed host of one of India's longest running talk shows on public television, "In Conversation". The organizer can be contacted at

THESTATESMAN: Inspiration Housefull at TEDxDTU

From matters of the heart to adventures in the racing circuit to experiences of a Reggie artist—TEDx DTU event witnessed interesting tales and innovative ideas being shared as 12 distinguished speakers came under one roof to lecture on the theme “Deconstructing perceptions; reconstructing identities” in New Delhi on Monday.

The event kicked off with a soulful performance by Delhi Technological University (DTU) music society—Madhurima. Speaking at the event, Alisha Abdullah, the first ever woman to make it to the podium in the Polo Cup highlighted how she "bunked classes to attend gym" and self-motivated herself every time people said that "she can't be a racer as she is a girl".

"Our life is like football match, there's one goal, but there are so many people, trying to distract you, don't lose focus," Abdullah said.

Currently, she is in the process of building India's first all women bike racing group with 80 individuals from her academy Alisha Abdullah Racing Academy for Women.

Next, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute chairman, Dr. Ashok Seth who is known as "Sachin Tendulkar of cardiology" described his journey as "success of default strategies" revealing that he became a heart specialist by accident and returned to India from England against his own wishes.

Dr. Seth emphasised on the importance of prayers while noting that researches suggest "prayers benefit patients".

"We are seduced by the advancement of science... But, spirituality tells us how to live in this world, prayers have shown to benefit patients... Now, a combination of science and spirituality can heal social illnesses also," Seth said.

While "Delhi Sultanate" Taru Dalmia threw light on the connection between Reggie music and revolution, Franchise India's Editor-in-chief Ritu Marya underlined the need for Indian products to focus on branding and marketing.

"Kake da dhaba in Connaught Place serves the best butter chicken since almost the last 150 years... As entrepreneurs they need to be confident and expand and don't limit themselves... Franchising is all about not limiting great ideas to a small space," Marya said, adding that "after the Narendra Modi government came to power the scene has improved to a great extent."

Speaking on his collaboration with local artists, Dalmia mentioned Punjab-based Ban Singh, a dalit whose daughter was raped by men belonging to the upper caste and the oppressed tribals of Niyamgiri hills. He highlighted how music is used as a powerful tool by communities to spread messages.

Adding sparkle to the event, Mrs. India Worldwide 2014 runners up Dr.Shivangi Maletia shared her inspiring story and attempted to change people's perception towards pageantry and called it an "evolutionary process".

After becoming a successful dentist and giving birth to her child, Maletia went through repeated bouts of panick attacks and was under severe depression for three months. Her life changed gradually as she started discovering her inner self and recognised her hidden desire to be a pageant winner.

Maletia embarked upon the journey to win a beauty pageant "with a 95 kgs body" and "a child" when the contest was just six months ahead. She went on to win many more titles and proudly shared her mantra to a successful and positive life.

Besides that social worker and educator Aaron Friedland pointed out that high rate of illiteracy is persistent in India, while quoting figures like 287 million illiterate adults reside in the country and added that Indians have potential to do better. He also discussed initiatives undertaken by his organisation The Walking School Bus to educate children in various countries across the world. Friedland cited distance to schools and lack of nutritious as barriers to education.

Inspiring audiences with stories of his dynamic journey, car designer Dilip Chhabria narrated how he successfully plays around with pistons now and started off working with a pencil many years ago. MD Sanjay Modi, Paytm's VP Lomesh Dutta, Bollywood actress Richa Chaddha among others also greeted the occasion.

The one-day event, curated by Angad Grover, was held after four years gap.


Better Access To Education

Aaron Friedland at Semei Kakungulu High School in Uganda. Friedland has written the bookThe Walking School Bus, both as a first reader but also as a means to generate funds for students to access education. To get it published, he has started an Indiegogo campaign.(photo from Aaron Friedland)

During high school and elementary, “it was too easy for me to miss school,” said Aaron Friedland, currently a master’s in economics student at the University of British Columbia. In other parts of the world, children walk great distances to attain an education.

“Five years ago, I wrote a children’s book called The Walking School Bus,” Friedland told theIndependent. It was “written with the realization that students in North America really take access to education for granted.”

It was on a trip to Uganda and South Africa, he said, when he really began to understand “the distances students had to walk to obtain an education and it was startling.”

Data from the Uganda National Household Survey Report 2009/2010 indicate that 5.5% of children aged 6-12 do not attend school because it is too far away, and the average high school-aged student must walk a distance of 5.1 kilometres to the nearest government school, more than 10 kilometres every day.

“I wanted the book to serve a purpose and the purpose was twofold. I wanted it to raise awareness … that students have to walk,” Friedland said about The Walking School Bus. “But I also wanted it to be a means to generate funds for students to access education and so, in that case, I’d say the school bus itself is metaphoric and it represents access to education.

“I submitted my manuscript to a publishing house just under a year ago and it was well received, so we started moving forward. But, in order to really have a book come to fruition, it costs quite a bit of money.”

On Nov. 9, Friedland started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $15,000 to cover the costs of publication, “everything surrounding the book,” which includes editors who specialize in children’s books and the illustrations. The campaign runs for 60 days.

The Walking School Bus has the capacity to “act as a first reader and, while it does have a picture book component, I’d also like it to serve as a coffee table book and a symbol for interfaith collaboration,” said Friedland.

Friedland’s concern about and involvement in interfaith work began in 2010, when J.J. Keki, a member of the Ugandan Abayudaya Jewish community and founder of the Delicious Peace fair-trade coffee cooperative, was invited to King David High School. Many students, including Friedland, “formed a pretty special bond with him.”

A bond that continued for Friedland. “When I was in first year [university] – while all my friends were going to Mexico and hilarious holidays – I went to Uganda with my family,” he said. “It was an amazing experience for us. We benefited so much more than the ‘recipient’ community. I recognized quite quickly that our aid had been negligible, but what it did for me was it provided me with a clear trajectory, which guided me for my four years at McGill.… At McGill, I started working with the Abayudaya community in Uganda, specifically with Delicious Peace…. What most amazed me – and my rationale for getting involved – was that they employed an interfaith collaboration model in which they united these previously disparate communities, the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, and formed one solid frontier in which they collaborated. In collaborating, there were a variety of positive spillover effects … you see higher levels of economic prosperity in that region on Nabagoya Hill than you do in comparable areas, you see how there is much more religious tolerance.”

About his experience in Uganda, Friedland, who has worked with UN Watch, said, “I have only seen the us-against-them mentality, and this is one of the first times I have ever seen this collaboration.”

About his most recent trip to Uganda, Friedland said, “Essentially, I have been working with three schools there as well as King David over here, kind of empowering their educational sector in the interfaith forum. And the three interfaith schools I’ve been working with are the three I’m the most motivated to help provide school buses.”

While interviewing students in Uganda, he said, “One of the girls that really stood out to me was a girl named Miriam, a lovely Jewish girl from [Semei Kakungulu] high school, an 18-year-old. She was telling me that, when she walks to school, she walks six kilometres in either direction. And, in extreme rainfall events, which is pretty much all of the rainy season, she will cross a river to school and, when she goes back, the river is often flooded and she cannot cross back, so that night she’ll spend at a friend’s.”

Friedland added, “When I think about the struggle that our counterparts make to go to school and we do not – we don’t have that drive. That is something I’d like to impress on people in North America. I’m not saying you have to feel bad, just appreciate your access and your ease in getting an education and take it seriously.”

The website was created by Friedland to support the book and bus project, and sales of T-shirts and various other merchandise go towards his efforts to increase access to education. He said, “I think, as a Jew in Vancouver, in a more liberalized society, that this is the model that we should be going for … we should be supporting interfaith.”

Friedland has most recently worked with a team to connect King David’s Marketing 12 class with the entrepreneurship class at Semei Kakungulu. About his master’s degree, he said he will likely be writing his thesis on “the positive economic spillover effects from interfaith collaboration and employing interfaith collaboration, as an economic development growth model in other places, particularly Israel.”

Aaron on the way to school: a book to promote sustainable and equitable education.

(The following text has been translated from a French newspaper:

Aaron Friedland, former fellow floor of the residence Gardner Hall, has just written a book for children,The Walking Schoolbus (Bus works, ed ). He also organized a fundraising campaign to improve access to education in an entrenched community of Uganda. After earning his BA at McGill, Aaron Friedland worked in a research organization in Barbados, and has traveled extensively. He is now in control of economics at the University of British Columbia. Since his apartment in Vancouver, he presented his project during a telephone interview with The Insider .

The Insider (LD): Where was your motivation for the fundraising project and how did you start writing the book?

Aaron Friedland (AF): To be honest, the book came before the project. I started to write the book five years ago while returning from a trip to South Africa and Uganda, where we worked for a humanitarian mission and where we helped build a playground for a community called Abayuda. It is a community whose school teaching mixture of different faiths, including Muslim, Christian and Jewish. The school is located in the village Nabagoya. It's an amazing community. We were direct witnesses of poverty and barriers to development. When the mission came to an end, I thought about the work we had done and I realized that we really enjoyed the experience. The group of people who went there to help received so much more than what he had given. Of course, we have provided the equivalent of several thousand dollars of infrastructure, but we have learned much more in terms of experience. And work was not going to be sustainable in the sense that it could not be maintained over the long term. So when I got home, after talking with all these children walking on incredible distances to go to school, I began to write this book for children.

LD: Did you write the book to raise awareness?

AF: Exactly, when I compare the North American education that I received, with the struggle of the South African and Ugandan students to go to school, there is a glaring inequality. My project was important for two reasons. I wanted to raise money for the children of these communities have access to education. We're trying to raise money to introduce three buses in this community. But I also wanted to make clear to North American students the luxury they enjoy. I wanted them to know that access to education is a chance, without making them feel guilty for all that. Especially they do not forget the privilege they have.

LD: The preview that was the book on the internet site is remarkable. Who designs these illustrations? And who are these two children whose book about?

AF: Of course, the site is only a glimpse of the final work. This is what I did before having the funds to create the book.   I decided to make some illustrations. The plan is to work in the future, with designers and Ugandan students. For now, I work with an illustrator I met online, which comes from South Africa.

The two children ... I met many children who could have inspired these two characters. But the truth is that these children are fictitious and represent my vision of all the children I met and their desire to have access to education.

LD: What symbolizes The Walking Schoolbus ? What idea does he represent?

AF: The idea behind the title and the story is to show the experience and the daily struggles of those children, that is to say not only the distance between them and education, but also the dangers that they meet on the way to school.   what symbolizes the bus finally, it is this ability of children to unite and fight for the real cause what access to education. At the same time, the bus represents access. When we see the feet of children beyond under the bus, we stop to ask questions. This is actually to represent how these children actually go to school.

LD: What is interesting in your metaphor is that it gives the idea of a genuine social movement across the nation and initiated by children. Do you think that education is really the key to development?

AF: Yes, one hundred percent. Especially from the perspective of someone who is in control of economy. The economic impact of the collaboration between beliefs great interest to me. I think the attacks in Paris and the events of the past month illustrate this idea a lack of education people direct them to extremist ideology. To me, the only real way to reduce these problems is to educate our young people adequately. More than just educate, means they must be given to learn the existence of various beliefs in society. I think the monotheistic schools are not necessarily a bad thing, but I wanted to show that we want to support a type of education that ensures lasting peace and facilitating access to a school that teaches three different beliefs simultaneously . It's beautiful to see how these children cooperate and it is this type of education that I want to support.

LD: In your biography you write that you wrote The Walking Schoolbus because you saw yourself unable to change the past and you were hoping to facilitate a more enlightened future. How do you see the future?

AF: When I see my experience in Uganda and South Africa, and especially the image of apartheid, I think many people have had difficulty accessing education, but there were also people which complement fallen into the cracks. I'm dyslexic, and I have seen many cases where the most educated and talented people fared well, while those who need assistance in their education, like me, did not receive any support.

In India, I have had an example of this injustice when poor children spoke to us in English and we answered them in German for not refusing to give them money all the time, and that children Indians began to talk to us in German. It showed me that the most gifted children, those who can take advantage of the education they receive, succeed much better. But many students who have more trouble with the academic system and require support mechanisms, like myself, are those that are not included in our societies without adequate social services. They are the ones that fall into the system vulnerabilities that are never really able to escape this trap that is poverty. Ensuring access to education, but also concretely improve education itself is my main goal. I'm trying to work with teachers to rework the curriculum and enhance computer learning.

The future for me will be to provide the best possible services for students of the three schools we work with. Working with multi-faith schools, encourage access to education, but also the teaching of tolerance and we wish especially repel religious fundamentalisms.

LD: What about students who want to add their two cents?

AF: Since Tuesday, November 24, students have the opportunity to participate in a contest to accompany us during an all expense paid trip to Uganda. They will have the opportunity to volunteer in the multicultural school and teach English. This is very interesting, from a sustainability point of view but also the opportunity to live an incredible experience. To enter the competition, you must follow two steps: give five dollars to the campaign and then publish a picture of oneself upside on facebook or instagram (or simply an inverted photo), by including the hashtag # TWSBflipaccess2ed and the link campaign in the description.

The approach of Aaron Friedland is an example of the effect that can have a cultural production on sustainable development by raising awareness of privileged people to the problems of others, but also through education that offers book. Education, like Aaron Friedland stated, is the key to a more equitable, sustainable, and promoter of peace. The unifying message of The Walking Schoolbus seems necessary at a time when the divergent beliefs seem to divide people, and where education seems to be the only way to teach respect and tolerance.

Hebrew U Einstein Event Honours Innovators

Anderson Cooper speaks at Hebrew U Einstein event in Toronto

Anderson Cooper speaks at Hebrew U Einstein event in Toronto

TORONTO – Just over 100 years ago, Albert Einstein pushed boundaries with his theory of special relativity. Now the university he co-founded is borrowing a page from his book with an ambitious set of initiatives to drive innovation.

“The idea was developed here [in Canada] by people like Rami Kleinmann [president and CEO of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem],” said Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the university. “It’s important from our point of view, because it follows the values of free thinking, education, morality and serving the community that Einstein championed.”

Ben-Sasson visited Toronto for the Canadian group’s second annual Einstein Gala on May 15 and spoke to The CJN between courses at the Carlu venue downtown. About 800 people attended the event, which raised $2 million for the university’s newly launched Albert Einstein Foundation. An additional $5 million was raised from Joseph Lebovic to fund a new Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Cancer Genomics and Immunity program.

Perennially cited as Israel’s university and among the world’s top 100, the school has in recent years upped its ties to Einstein, who bequeathed his estate to the university. On May 15, Aaron Friedland was announced as the third Next Einstein Competition winner. The $10,000 prize will seed his Walking School Bus venture, which raises funds for school buses and tackles illiteracy in developing countries.

The win echoed the evening’s overarching themes: innovation, curiosity and dismantling barriers to scientific discovery.

“How many kids are out there as we speak, toiling in fields, with the brains that with the right support could solve the problems of the future?” asked journalist Anderson Cooper, the evening’s special guest.

Einstein, he said, was notable not just for his scientific acumen. He was a rebel who bridled at the rote-based strictures of 1890s German schools.

“When I was in school, I didn’t think of [maths and sciences] as a creative discipline,” said Cooper, “but if you think about it, who was more creative than Albert Einstein?”

Cooper was one of several high-wattage personalities at the event. Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead played an hour-long set to close the evening and shared thoughts on creativity, the hallmark of his jam-band career.

“Anyone who is into science, who is into art, is into discovery,” he said. “You make your discovery and then… you take it somewhere. If I find a new scale or juxtaposition, it percolates and then [I say], ‘this will work here – just like I thought.’”

The road to innovation, in music or science, requires hard work and humility.

“You have to understand that no matter how hard you work and no matter how much talent you have, you’re never going to get all the way there,” Weir said.

Innovation also dominated a panel discussion, moderated by Cooper, featuring four leaders. They also received the Jake Eberts Key of Knowledge award.

“I try to collect all the information that is relevant and think of all the possibilities, all the variants of the solution,” said Barry Sherman, chair of pharmaceutical firm Apotex. The “eureka moment” comes, he said, arrives through methodology, supported by the willingness to defy conventional wisdom.

The artist of the group, composer and television writer Shuki Levy, cofounder of Saban Entertainment, stressed the role of imagination and confidence in his success.

Bridging the gap was Jeff Martin, founder of mobile developer Tribal Planet and co-chair of the Einstein Legacy Project. “When Einstein hit a wall, he played the violin, a Stradivarius, and that notion, that the violin was a sounding board was very inspiring to me,” Martin said.

Whether they rely on methodology or muse, innovators all require a key ingredient, according to a veteran hands-on philanthropist.

“It’s choosing that life of action,” said Naomi Azrieli, chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “Successful and innovative people roll with that inevitability.”

The university’s leadership sees the Next Einstein competition as the first of a number of high-end measures for the foundation, which will direct projects through its Einstein Legacy Project. On May 16, the school was slated to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to collaborate on global STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

Next fall, it will headline its “Dinner of the Century” in Washington, D.C., with the launch of the first three-dimensional printed book. It will also award the Einstein Prize to the top scientists under the age of 40.

And the school plans a bricks-and-mortar addition, the Einstein Museum, first announced at last year’s Toronto dinner.

Aaron Friedland First Walked A Mile In Their Shoes – Then Created The Walking School Bus

Late for school? No problem, Mom will drive you. Pouring rain and college lecture about to start? Just call Uber for a ride.

“Everyday, over half a million students in Uganda walk over 5 kilometers both to and from school to attain an education. These students walk through some of the most unforgiving terrain in pursuit of higher education. I know because I walked with them,” relates Aaron Friedland, founder and executive director of The Walking School Bus and recently the 2016 winner of The Next Einstein Competition.

Listening to Friedland, some words still inflected with the staccato accent of South Africa, he’s like an astute and profoundly articulate old soul in the guise of a young man.

At only 23-years-old and finishing his Masters dissertation on Economic Development at UBC, his passion for The Walking School Bus is contagious.

His accomplishments are all the more admirable because he admits to struggling with dyslexia throughout his formidable school years.

Ottawa Citizen: Anderson Cooper and Bob Weir Show Support for Albert Einstein

–     Winner of The Next Einstein Competition announced  –

TORONTO, May 16, 2016 /CNW/ - Anderson Cooper and Grateful Dead founding memberBob Weir were in attendance last night at a star-studded gala in support of the Einstein Legacy Project. Cooper hosted the Second Annual Einstein Gala, which featured a keynote speech addressing the importance of Einstein and the continuing contributions of his legacy.Weir spoke to the crowd about the importance of science, technology, mathematics and engineering, and treated the audience to a rare and exclusive performance.

The evening celebrated the Einstein Legacy Project's various initiatives, including the world's first 3D-printed book and The Next Einstein competition: an annual search for innovative ideas that best represent Albert Einstein's legacy of discovery, invention and humanitarian ideals. The 3-D book, Genius: 100 Visions of the Future, includes contributions from 100 of the greatest icons and influencers of our time.

The Albert Einstein Foundation, created by Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, launched the Einstein Legacy Project in honour the 100-year anniversary of Einstein's Theory of Relativity.  

"Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of our time and we are thrilled to have raised$2 million through the Einstein Gala to support future Einsteins," commented Rami Kleinmann, President & CEO, Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University. "We are incredibly fortunate to be the guardians of the AIbert Einstein estate and bring together visionaries and leaders in celebration of his legacy and contributions to humanity."

In addition to hosting the evening, Cooper presented the award to this year's winner of The Next Einstein Competition, Aaron Friedland. As the third winner of this award, Friedland received a $10,000 prize for the digital book reading program developed by him and his organization, The Walking School Bus.

The gala also honoured recipients of the Jake Eberts Key of Knowledge Award, recognizing leaders who have bettered society through the advancement of knowledge and personal example. Academy Award®-winning actor Morgan Freeman is among the award's past recipients. This year's winners include: The Azrieli Foundation, represented by its Chair and CEO Dr. Naomi AzrieliShuki Levy, music composer, television writer, director and co-founder of Saban Entertainment; Jeff Martin, Founder & CEO, Tribal Planet and Co-Chair of Einstein Legacy Project; and Apotex Inc., represented by its Chairman Dr. Barry Sherman.

About The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University
The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (CFHU) facilitates academic and research partnerships between Canada and Israel as well as establishing scholarships, supporting research, cultivating student and faculty exchanges and recruiting Canadian students to attend the university. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU), founded in 1918 and opened in 1925, is Israel's leading university. Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, and Sigmund Freud, were among the university's founders, they were thinkers and visionaries whose genius inspired a university that would have no limits or borders. Ranked as one of the world's leading research universities (ranked 3rd in Asia and 70th globally), HU lies at the forefront of the international academic and scientific communities. Many top prizes and awards have been won by its graduates and faculty including eight Nobel Prizes, and the Fields Medal in Mathematics. HU is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind in an atmosphere free of discrimination and prejudice.

SOURCE Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University


RAVSAK: What Sticks?

Jewish literacy and curriculum require a tremendous amount of thought and work by day school faculty and administrators, day by day, year by year. In this article, we asked four recent alumni to look back over their day school experience and summarize what remains with them now. What lessons, skills, examples, practices or texts that they learned in school do they find still relevant, still playing a role in their thoughts, studies and pursuits today?

Aaron Friedland, King David High School, Vancouver, Class of 2010

When I think back to my King David High School experience, I can characterize my entire five years with one word: chesed, or kindness.

I was taught kindness and pride from our remarkable custodian Jesse who would always smile, and offer a warm remark. I was shown kindness from our librarian Ms. Stibravy, who would encourage my curiosity for the African continent. And finally, I was shown and taught kindness by my teacher Shoshana Burton, who has played a profound role in shaping my current trajectory. Shoshi inspired students. Intentionally or not, she inspired us to grab onto what was being taught in various classes and apply them to chesed projects both local and international in nature.

On one occasion, Shoshi invited JJ Keki, a Jewish coffee farmer from Uganda to share his remarkable story with King David High School. Mr. Keki had witnessed the atrocities at the World Trade Center and he recognized that it was vital for him to collaborate with his Christian and Muslim counterparts to improve relations and ensure that such events would not take place in Uganda. He founded Delicious Peace, an interfaith coffee cooperative which united the Christian, Muslim and Jewish farmers of the region. Not only did this unification increase interfaith tolerance and awareness, it also helped to increase economic prosperity for the farmers, including the Jewish Abayudaya farmers.

After hearing JJ Keki speak, a connection was formed. The following year, I left for McGill University and over winter break, my family as well as family friends of ours travelled to rural Mbale, Uganda. I was incredibly fortunate to have this experience as it helped me to find meaning in my economics studies and apply my newfound knowledge to causes I was passionate about.

During this visit, I experienced firsthand the distance that students had to journey to get to school. These children, my counterparts, were traveling upwards of five kilometers to and from school to access the same education that I and my North American peers too frequently took for granted. While these students’ persistence had helped them overcome distance, their lack of adequate food made learning difficult, which was clear to me then as well as on subsequent visits.

Another realization which was made clear while spending time with the three faith-based schools was that these students lacked the same safety net that I had been afforded.

As a dyslexic student, I struggled academically. In the North American context, I had to overcome a great deal to be where I am today. I was fortunate to have incredible parents who recognized the problem and addressed it. Once again, I was shown kindness. I had teachers adjust their styles and techniques to accommodate me. The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” couldn’t be more true. I was incredibly lucky to be that child.

By contrast, from my travels in countries such as South Africa, Uganda, India and Barbados, I’ve seen that students with learning challenges often do not get the same opportunities I was blessed with. Those students often are put to work with little hopes of escaping the poverty trap.

My experiences led me to create an organization called The Walking School Bus, which aims to provide the same safety net that I was afforded—one that empowers access to education, improves curriculum, and ensures nutrition. Five years ago, I began writing a children’s book of the same name, the proceeds of which will all go to supporting educational opportunities in Africa. Schools can get involved as well ( Volunteers read and record chapters of books in the public domain; these recordings are then sent to our partnered schools with the attached PDFs or physical copies. Students in our partnered schools have the opportunity to listen and read simultaneously. This works as a great teaching tool, impresses proper pronunciation onto our students, and fosters peer-to-peer community and kindness. If you would like to get involved with our project and help flip the current reality of educational attainment on its head, join our #TWSBflipsaccess2ed movement here:, and feel free to submit your own photo on social media or via email.

It is an honor for me to be in a position to give back to students who lack access to education and nutrition. Through The Walking School Bus, I hope to spread the same kindness that was shown to me and positively impact students in our partnered communities.


Emily Goldberg, Abraham Joshua Heschel School, New York, Class of 2014

“The white on the page is just as important as the dark on the page.”

This teaching implicitly and explicitly echoed throughout the hallways of Heschel High School. My Jewish day school, perhaps like many, valued Jewish text and its myriad layers and perspectives. Our curricula throughout high school compelled us to use text as the binoculars for our respective journeys that were interwoven inside and outside of our school’s four walls. From dissecting sugyot in tractate Sanhedrin to debating Thoreau’s idea of transcendentalism, my classmates and I were expected to read every inch of any document. The words and empty spaces alike equally overflowed with opportunity.

I remember my first experience in my Tanakh class, an in-depth study of 1 Samuel led by a post-denominational and deeply religious teacher. His tattoo of the sefirotic elements on his palm glistened as he dissuaded his students from using English translations of the Bible in our learning community. Why? “I’d much rather hear your own interpretations. If I wanted a translation of Torah that silenced your organic ideas, then I wouldn’t be teaching,” he chuckled, as though the idea of sixteen-year olds taking ownership of biblical text was obvious. It was not obvious to me. I clung desperately to every English word and tutorial until they eventually dissolved beneath the questions that transcended their basic functions. What is the author not saying? How does Samuel’s relationship with kingship and authority relate to my understanding of God? What do I think of the narratives written before me?

Soon, my Tanakh of sacred text became my canvas, covered not with copied ideas but rather my own endless questions and bold claims. Before I graduated high school, I had learned that the words on every page of text were not simply artifacts to understand; they enveloped an open invitation for me to engage in honest and limitless conversation with my faith. The white perimeter on every page of Tanakh, each daf of Talmud, and every scene in Shakespeare’s plays challenged me to think critically, write without filters, and, most importantly, discover a voice of my own. No question, doubt or idea was too radical for my text to hold, but in order for them to be taken seriously, I must hold my voice just as accountable as that of Samuel, Rashi and Othello. I must root my voice in the textual conversations that breathe new life into Jewish learning.

The white on the page is just as important as the dark on the page. The words printed before my eyes are simply the first step of a lifelong conversation. When I choose to read text openly and vulnerably, my voice becomes as an active participant. My Jewish day school channeled its love of text into the students, molding us to become the unpublished, uncensored and unbound thinkers that ask the radical questions in college and beyond. Beneath these ideas that are etched onto the whiteness of our holy literature—ready to break ground and pursue a world as we see it ought to be—exists a grounded and unwavering commitment to the black words on every page.


Meredith Leon, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago, Class of 2011

It is so rare to come across a place that you can return to years later and feel as though you never left. BZAEDS, the day school I spent the most transformative eleven years of my life, embodies this place for me and for thousands of alumni. A day school experience is unlike any other education because the school becomes a part of you, teaching students how to be critical thinkers, upstanders and members of the Jewish community.

My teachers at BZAEDS taught me so much more than multiplication, American history, the stages of photosynthesis, and Hebrew. They went beyond the standard by taking students on field trips to illustrate the course material’s impact on society, and brin g ing in speakers that inspired us to question our world. We were assigned projects that challenged our minds and creativity, from curating mini-museum exhibitions to writing a diary from the perspective a figure in the French Revolution. My day-school education t aught me how to think, and when I went on to high school, where I was often taught to a test, the importance of having a progressive learning experience was crystalized.

Being in a small environment, where students will inevitably form tight-knit bonds with one another and the faculty, fosters a unique sense of community that remains strong for years. I made my lifelong best friends at BZAEDS and continue to visit to see teachers whom I had from nursery to eighth grade. It was truly amazing to see how the entire school—students, teachers and parents—came together for my family when my uncle passed away, and I don’t think the support we received would have been possible at any other school.

Most importantly, BZAEDS laid the foundation of Judaism in my life through teaching me Jewish traditions, text, culture and history. BZAEDS gave me the unbelievable opportunity to culminate my Jewish studies by traveling to Israel with my eighth grade class. When I went off to high school and was faced with anti-Israel sentiments in my class, I had the experience and knowledge to stand up for Israel, and took it a step further by joining an Israel advocacy group through Chicago’s Federation. Now, I am a freshman in college at USC, and have gotten very involved with USC’s Hillel. Joining USC’s Jewish life made my transition across the country so easy, and I have really found my place in it through attending Shabbat dinners, helping plan Jewish social events, and being a member of Trojans for Israel. It was BZAEDS that engrained in me the necessity of seeking out Jewish communities no matter where life takes me, because the future success of the Jewish people lies in the hands of my generation.