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New University Relations Officer Spotlight: Christian Nabung

August 10, 2015

christian_APACWe are excited to introduce you to a new University Relations Officer that recently joined the Golden Key team! Christian Nabung is now overseeing the Eastern Australia & New Zealand chapters from our Asia-Pacific office.  Get to know him better with this Q&A.

Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and grew up next to the glamorous waters of Bondi Beach. My father is of Filipino and Spanish Descent whilst my mother is English. I’m a dual citizen, having both an Australian and English passport.

Where did you go to university? What did you major in? I’m currently studying at Sydney University where I’m one subject away from completing my Bachelor of Arts. I’ve always been very interested in reading, music and more broadly, popular culture. Due to this, I’m completing an English Literature and Gender studies double major. I also completed a number of music subjects within the degree ranging from performance to composition.

What are your hobbies? I love my rugby, music, reading, film, chess and interacting with as many new faces and personalities that I can! In summer, I can be found at the nearest beach or pool.

What is your favourite sport? I’m a devout Rugby Union and Cricket fan. I still play rugby on Saturdays during the winter season. Ill give just about any sport a ‘go’ and love being as active as possible.

What is your favourite movie? That’s like picking between your children! (in no particular order); The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, Gladiator, A Clockwork Orange.

Tv Show? The Simpsons and Game of Thrones.

Favourite Musicians/bands? The Smiths, Jeff Buckley, Velvet Underground, Radiohead, The Beatles, Elvis and Bowie.

Favourite Quotes?

You’re going to reap just what you sow.” Lou Reed, Perfect Day.

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle.

What excites you the most about working at Golden Key? I’m very passionate about getting individuals to achieve to their capacity. Liaising with some of the very best University minds means that I’ll be nurturing the leaders who will inevitably be our innovators and architects of the future. This is a hugely exciting prospect for me! I also love travelling, so visiting new territories, states and countries whilst working is a dreamlike opportunity.


Welcome to GK, Christian!

SPARK a Change August 2015

August 6, 2015

As of 1 August, chapters have dedicated 39,848 hours, touched the lives of 37,849 people and raised $8,690.43 towards SPARK a Change since its launch in July 2014. These collective actions are impacting the lives of youth around the globe! (Chapter leaders, please remember to record your events on the Golden Key website promptly after the event so we can include your accomplishments in our monthly statistics.)

Follow SPARK a Change on social media. Each month, Headquarters will be posting a challenge and a contest for SPARK a Change. Be sure to follow Golden Key on Facebook and Twitter as well as SPARK on Instagram for articles on the benefits of volunteering and posts featuring great SPARK events. If you think your chapter has a great event, please email your event details and pictures to:

August Featured Service Project:

This month’s featured service project is the SPARK a Change project at International Summit 2015.  Golden Key teamed up with FSG Australia, a for-purpose community organization and center for social enterprise whose mission and vision is to have a community that connects with all people and is free of social injustice.

 Attendees were randomly split up into groups for the three different projects.  The projects were: (1) soy candle making where the proceeds go towards underfunded children’s programs, (2) learning how to paint from indigenous artist and then painting boxes for children in foster care, and (3) a Brains Trust activity where participants were given a problem or project that affected the local community that they were asked to solve or assist with. Through the hard work and dedication of the GK members present, 645 hours of service were completed and 3,260 lives were touched in only two and a half hours of service!



2015 International Summit Recap

August 3, 2015

Pursue Your Path in Paradise. This was the theme of our 2015 International Summit on the Gold Coast and what a paradise it is! With its world-famous beaches, the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia was an incredible setting for our very first International Summit outside of the US!

The 2015 International Summit was held at the beautiful Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa from 16-19 July. With more than 300 members, advisors, alumni, partners and friends attending from all over the world, this year’s International Summit was a not-to-miss event!

Thursday, 16 July was the first day of the conference. The delegates arrived throughout the day and visited the on-site registration for their name badges, conference goodies and t-shirts. They were then broken up into groups for the Amazing Race. Teams raced around the city doing challenges like eating Wheat-Bix and naming Australian animals. The Amazing Race gave delegates the chance to explore the city, learn about Australian culture and make friends from around the world prior to the conference start.

AmazingRace1    AmazingRace2

Then it was time to officially welcome everyone at our conference kick off, the Opening Session! Opening Session started off by celebrating each country present by having the Council of Student Members (CoSM) representatives from each country walk on stage carrying their flags. Brad Rainey, Golden Key Executive Director, welcomed all attendees and played a video that recapped all of the wonderful accomplishments of our chapters over the past year. Next, it was time for our keynote speech from Michael Crossland. Timothy Ng, Council of Student Members representative from The University of Waikato, won the opportunity to introduce Michael.

CKCN-aqVAAAMmVrDiagnosed with aggressive life threatening cancer before his first birthday doctors told Michael school and sport were not options. Infection and fatigue were too great a risk. His only wish was to lead a normal life and be able to do all the things that other ‘normal’ kids took for granted every day.

Now, an accomplished businessman, Australian of the Year finalist, Australia Day Ambassador, Camp Quality Ambassador and international hall of fame inductee, Michael inspires many people from all walks of life with his story and inspiration of believing in yourself and achieving the impossible dreams. Michael has an absolute passion and belief in people’s ability to change direction and become who they truly want to be and achieve success. We then had the amazing opportunity to induct Michael as an honorary member.

“It was an awesome night speaking at the Golden Key Summit and to get a lifetime honorary member was extremely moving & a standing ovation was overwhelming,” Michael said. “The world is in good hands with the future leaders from Golden Key.” The overwhelming response from delegates was that Michael was one of the most inspirational speakers they have ever heard. “I loved Michael Crossland. He energized me in a new way and made me want to do more for the world,” one delegate said.

The Opening Session was a great way to start the conference! Afterwards, delegates were then given the chance to network and mingle at the International Meet and Greet Mixer. This closed the first night with a wonderful opportunity to make friends and connections from around the world.

Day 2 (Friday, 17 July) started up with our Plenary Sessions where delegates were served a light breakfast, heard an update from headquarters and were given a chance to ask questions about the Society.

11755879_10152961730747050_5988143949054901713_nThroughout the day on Friday there was a large variety of workshops that delegates could take part in. From chapter specific lessons to personal/professional development workshops to a track specifically for chapter advisors, the workshops had something for everyone! Attending the various workshops to grow professionally and take lessons back to one’s chapter is the most important part of the Summit.

One delegate told us: “There was a broad range of workshops which was good to know. I followed the personal development path pretty closely and I enjoyed nearly all of the talks given. The workshop leaders were fantastic at connecting with the audience and presenting their content in a concise and effective way.”

Examples of some of the workshop titles were: Maximizing Your Career Opportunities With LinkedIn, Running with Scissors – How To Create Balance, Maximizing Your Chapter Success through Strategic Collaborations, Secrets of Advisors, and How to Nudge: Implementing Change Within a Workplace.

Several other activities happened throughout the day. Golden Key held its second Poster Session. Delegates had the chance to display their academic work for the chance to be awarded scholarship money. All attendees were welcome to visit the Poster Session to view the academic work of the participants. On the last day we were able to present the Poster Session winners with their checks. The winners were: Simangele Msweli from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Tanyaradzwa Mushohwe from Stellenbosch University, Carlee Toddes from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and the overall winner, Fadzai Muramba from the University of Cape Town.

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Following lunch there was a Career Panel that discussed how the job market has changed over time and where it is globally. The panel was made up of guests from recruitment agencies and those working in senior operation positions and career development. Attendees had the chance to ask the panelist questions and learn more about personal branding, interview and resume preparation, career change and succeeding in the workforce.koala

After the workshops concluded, advisors were taken to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to enjoy a night dedicated to appreciating all of their hard work. Advisors were able to mingle with Australian animals like koalas, crocodiles and kangaroos!

Saturday, 18 July was the Day 3 of the Summit, where our SPARK a Change service activities were the main focus. service2_7287277382273796843_nThose participating in the service projects were welcomed and learned about the organization we teamed up with: FSG Australia. FSG Australia is a for-purpose community organization and center for social enterprise whose mission and vision is to have a community that connects with all people and is free of social injustice.

Attendees were randomly split up into groups for the three different projects. The projects were: (1) soy candle making where the proceeds go towards underfunded children’s programs, (2) learning how to paint from indigenous artist and then painting boxes for children in foster care, and (3) a Brains Trust activity where participants were given a problem or project that they were asked to solve or assist with.

service3           service1

Through the hard work and dedication of the GK members present, 645 hours of service were completed and 3,260 lives were touched in only two and a half hours of service done on Saturday!  We hope each of the attendees will leave this International Summit and head back to their local communities to continue to SPARK a Change and helping us accomplish our SPARK goals of 400,000 hours of service, 400,000 lives impacted and raising $40,000 by our 2017 International Summit!

Attendees also had the chance to attend additional workshops if they did not want to participate in the service projects.

That evening, the Red Carpet Reception was held. Those that registered for this additional event had the opportunity to mix and mingle with Simon Griffiths, a social entrepreneur and the 2015 Closing Gala keynote speaker. As 6:00 p.m. rolled around on Saturday, it was time to close out the conference at the Gala.

Attendees were welcomed to the Gala by Kelly Jo Miller singing with Edmond Chung accompanying on the piano.  Next it was time for our contest winner Nkateko Mathebula from the University of Pretoria, who won the chance to introduce our Closing Gala keynote speaker, Simon Griffiths.

11017510_10153442357854293_7792325761537067900_nIn 2007, after turning down his dream job offer as a corporate high-flyer, Simon moved from Australia to South Africa to immerse himself in his true passion: development aid. There he discovered that the biggest problem faced by NGOs and social entrepreneurs is a lack of funding. Since then he has launched three social businesses of his own, all focused on revolutionizing the way society thinks about and engages in philanthropy.

Simon’s latest venture is an ethical home products company. Its flagship product is “Who Gives A Crap”, an environmentally friendly toilet paper that uses 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world. He is also well knowSimon_honmembern for his work as co-founder of Shebeen, Australia’s first non-profit bar. Shebeen sells exotic beer and wine from the developing world with the profit from each sale supporting a project in that particular drink’s country of origin. After Simon’s wonderful keynote address, we had the privilege to induct him as a Golden Key honorary member.

“The keynote speaker was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Simon Griffiths. He was very relevant and inspirational,” one attendee told us. “The food and venue were excellent, the music was superb, the energy was contagious, and the reveal of the next summit location made me really excited to try and go next year!”

KeyChapterNext an excellent three-course dinner was served. After dinner, there were just a few more things to wrap up. We were very excited to present Key Chapter recipients with special plaques. The Key Chapter Award is a very special honor and only the most esteemed chapters receive it. Then the Poster Session winners were announced and a few surprise scholarships were awarded.

Before we officially closed the Summit, we revealed the location of the next GK International Summit: Tucson, Arizona! The announcement was a great way to end such an amazing event. GK members, see you in Tucson in 2016!

The night ended with attendees letting loose on the dance floor!

Golden Key would like to send a huge thank you to everyone that attended and helped out at the 2015 International Summit!

Check Golden Key’s Facebook page this month for pictures and videos from International Summit.


SPARK Abroad in Peru: The Service Project

July 30, 2015

This is the third post in our SPARK Abroad blog series in which Associate Director of Corporate Relations, Alex Quinn, attended the trip.

So far in this blog series, I’ve discussed the wonderful experience and the sites we visited. Today I’d like to talk about the impactful service project that I was fortunate to participate in.

We used the first couple of days that we were in Cusco to visit many of the local sights around Cusco and experience the Peruvian culture, but the most important part of our trip was our service project. This trip was designed to align with Golden Key’s SPARK a Change program, so it was imperative that our service initiative served at-risk youth in the fields of literacy, education and real-world preparedness. To make this happen, we worked with a world-renowned non-governmental organization called Peru’s Challenge, which works with volunteers to build sustainable schools and communities.

PumamarcaOn the first day of our service project, we drove about 10 minutes higher up into the hills of Cusco to take a tour of the second school that was completed by Peru’s Challenge, Pumamarca. Although the city of Cusco sits only a few miles away from where we were, the road that we took to get to Pumamarca was quite rural, and it was clear that we were moving into a less developed part of town. In fact, because of the area’s isolation, the Department of Education in Peru does not financially support the local primary school, so the school is left to support itself.

Just as with the house that we were staying at, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the school when we pulled up to the entrance.Pumamarca 2 The area was surrounded by a tall, brightly-colored wall that prevented us from being able to see anything on the inside, but when we walked in, we were taken away.

The inside of the school was gorgeous, and the children were as friendly as could be!  They welcomed us with hugs and high fives as soon as we walked in, and we could immediately feel the appreciation that the kids had for the volunteers. What impressed me most about the school is how it was designed not to just support the students but the entire community. There were five greenhouses towards the back of the school where the students could grow their own food, and the center of the school was a fenced-in farming area with alpacas living in it.Pumamarca 3 The parents in the community would come in every month or so to shave the alpacas to make clothing to sell in the city, which helped to support the families.

Visiting this school was a critical part of our experience working with Peru’s Challenge– seeing what we are working for and interacting with the children truly inspired our entire group. It also made our experience particularly special in that the school that we were going to work at for the next three days was in its beginning stages of construction. It was a single school building on a patch of flattened land, so we were able to see what these projects look like from start to finish.ticapata mud bricks

Over the course of the next few days, we prepared for the first greenhouse on the school grounds to be built. This called for some taxing effort on our part, but our group worked hard to make sure that we left as big of an impact on the community as possible in our three days there. By the end of our time working there, we had laid the foundation of the greenhouse, which required moving mud bricks to the building site, breaking up stones, making concrete, laying the concrete and putting down the first level of mud bricks.

Overall, I can say that this was one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. Not only were the students, teachers and parents loving and thankful, but you can feel the passion when the co-founders Jane and Selvy talk about the program. I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to take part in this project, and I hope that I will be able to go back one day and work with them again!ticapata 1

This completes our blog series on the first ever SPARK Abroad trip to Peru. If you are interested in attending a SPARK Abroad tour this upcoming December or next June, you can visit the the SPARK Abroad page on Golden Key’s website to learn more about the trips.

SPARK Abroad in Peru: The Sights

July 29, 2015

This is the second post in our SPARK Abroad blog series in which Associate Director of Corporate Relations, Alex Quinn, attended the trip.

In my last blog post, I briefly mentioned some of the sites that we visited while on our SPARK Abroad trip to Peru, but I’d like to delve into them further. Although these trips are service-oriented, plenty of time was reserved for us to see all of the historical sites that Cusco has to offer.

Basílica Catedral

cathedralIn Peru a large majority of the residents are Catholic, and they recognize the Catholic Church as an important element of the nation. In light of this, there are numerous statues and historical sites that are dedicated to religion, including the first site that we went to in Cusco– Basílica Catedral. This cathedral was built on top of an Incan temple by the Spanish in an attempt to assert religious dominance over the Incans. Today the cathedral sits in the Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco.

Side note: Photography is forbidden in the cathedral, but the inside is gorgeous and full of history!


Once the capital of the Incan Empire, this ruin sits high in hills of Cusco, overlooking the city. This site is composed of giant boulders that have been methodically cut to fit together without mortar. Even more of a testament to Incan architecture, though, is that the architects constructed Saqsaywaman to be earthquake resistant, as well.

The Spanish once thought that this site was fortress to protect the city due to the zig-zag shape of the walls and multiple levels. Saqsaywaman is still relevant to the Peruvians as this site is a part of the Inti Raymi celebration.

Machu Picchu

sun gate viewOur Peruvian trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the most popular tourist attraction in South America and part of the recently voted New Seven Wonders of the World. Located about 50 miles outside of Cusco city, Machu Picchu sits high in the mountains above the Sacred Valley. In order to reach the estate, we took a two hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes then a short bus ride up the mountain side. Just as with Saqsaywaman, Machu Picchu is an architectural marvel. The site encompasses classic qualities of Incan architecture– many of the stones possess perfect joints, thus nullifying the need for mortar and trapezoidal-shaped walls and doorways. After our tour guide was finished, we had time to explore freely, so some of us trekked up to the Sun Gate, which provides a view of the entirety of Machu Picchu.machu picchu

I wish there were words to explain how incredible this experience was. I don’t think I’ll ever forget when we walked up to the spot where you can first see the city– you have an image in your head of what it looks like, then your perception is completely shattered by the absolute beauty of it all! We were able to watch the sun rise over the mountain tops as we stood on a ledge overlooking the perfectly constructed stone walls and captivating backdrop of the Andes Mountains.

 Some other notable sites that we visited include:

  • Sacred Valley
  • Terraces of Pumatallis
  • Cristo Blanco statue

Tune back in tomorrow for the final post in this blog series. If you are interested in attending a SPARK Abroad tour this upcoming December or next June, you can visit the SPARK Abroad page on Golden Key’s website to learn more about the trips.

SPARK Abroad in Peru: The Experience

July 28, 2015

As a part of Golden Key’s SPARK a Change initiative, Golden Key has partnered with EF Tours to offer SPARK Abroad–international service-learning tours to serve at-risk youth through literacy, education and real-world preparedness. SPARK Abroad trips allow attendees to experience engaging site explorations while working side-by-side with locals on community-driven projects. Golden Key hosted our first SPARK Abroad trip this June in Peru, and Golden Key’s Associate Director of Corporate Relations, Alex Quinn, attended the trip alongside other Golden Key members.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this trip, especially considering that this would be my first real trip out of the United States (I went on a cruise once that made a couple of four hour stops in Central America). Honestly, I am not a fan of traveling– I have very little tolerance for airplanes and even less for sitting still for long periods of time– this trip has changed my attitude, though.

The majority of us attending the SPARK Abroad tour in Peru came into Lima on the same late, 1:00 a.m. flight from Atlanta, Georgia. With just a few hours of sleep, we woke up and headed back to the airport for our flight into the imperial city of Cusco, where we would spend the resounding majority of our trip.

The Weather

chorrillosAlthough we spent the majority of our time in Cusco, we were able to spend some time in the Miraflores and Chorrillos districts of Lima. Generally, the coastal city of Lima is cloudy and warm, even though it was winter when we were there. We experienced Lima at a strange time, though, because it was the year of El Niño, so the ocean water was more tolerable for winter than usual and the weather was much warm enough to wear a short sleeve shirt at night.

As much as I enjoyed Lima, I preferred the weather in Cusco, which has a completely different climate. Given that Cusco is a mountainous city located 12,000 feet above sea level, the sun has a much stronger effect than in Lima. All seven days that we spent in Cusco were sunny and warm. One could easily wear shorts and a short sleeve during the day. However, we had to plan ahead when we left the house, because once the sun goes down, the temperature would quickly drop into the 40’s and 30’s.

The Residences

cusco homeDue to our late, international flights into Lima and early morning flights to Cusco, we weren’t able to spend much time at the hotel our first night in Peru. We stayed at the Lima Wasi Hotel in Miraflores that first night. We became much more familiar with our next residence as we would spend the next five days living there.

As you drive through the streets of Cusco,cusco home 3 there were no front yards. Buildings and homes either sat right off the street or they had rather tall walls that wrapped around them, which made it hard to see what the residences looked like. When we pulled up to the walls that surrounded the home that we were staying in, we didn’t know what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised when we walked in.

The “compound” that we stayed in had six bedrooms with their own bathrooms, a living room area, dining hall and a beautiful outdoor courtyard. While we were there, we also had a cook who prepared three meals a day and a driver to take us all over Cusco.

cusco home 2 Once we completed our service project (more on this later), it was time for us to visit Machu Picchu. We had to drive roughly 40 miles from Cusco to Ollantaytambo to hop on a two hour train ride to Aguas Calientes, the base of Macchu Picchu. We stayed at the Hotel Flower’s House, which was a quick walk from the train station and to the bus stops to head up the mountain to Machu Picchu.

The Events

We were lucky enough to have visited Peru during Winter Solstice, which is not only the shortest day of the year but also the Incan New Year. On June 24 we watched as the Peruvians threw their most important celebration– Inti Raymi, or the “Festival of the Sun”. The event starts with an hour long ceremony in the Plaza de Armas, and it is celebrated with music, dances, colorful costumes and processions.inti raymi Once the ceremony is completed in the Plaza, the procession continues in the streets, and they march up to the archaeological site of Saqsaywaman.

futbolWe were also able to experience the Copa America while we were abroad. This international futbol competition brought together twelve nations (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) to play for the cup. Although the matches were being played in neighboring Chile, our group was able to experience two Peruvian matches (Bolivia and Chile) in some local pubs in Cusco.

Tune back in tomorrow for another post in this blog series! If you are interested in attending a SPARK Abroad tour this upcoming December or next June, you can visit the SPARK Abroad page on Golden Key’s website to learn more about the trips.

AMU & APU’s Stop Hunger Now Service Event

July 23, 2015

Stop Hunger Now1On June 12, 2015 the American Military University and American Public University Golden Key chapter co-sponsored a Stop Hunger Now service event at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Maryland with the AMU and APU Student Veterans of America. Over 200 members, officers, guests, and university staff and faculty came together for an upbeat and meaningful event.

The AMU and APU Golden Key chapter packaged an amazing 17,000 meals in under 2 hours, and the packages will be shipped to meal distribution programs in developing countries that promote education, encourage children to attend school, improve students’ health and nutrition, address gender inequalities, stimulate economic growth, fight child labor, and are part of the movement to address global issues. This exciting event was part of Golden Key’s SPARK a Change service initiative. Launched in July 2014, SPARK a Change’s mission is to impact and improve the lives of at-risk youth (ages 0-17) through literacy, education and real-world preparedness. Through SPARK, Golden Key aims to raise $40,000, dedicate 400,000 hours of service and impact 400,000 lives in local communities & around the world by 2017. The AMU and APU chapter’s outstanding efforts are helping Golden Key reach this goal.

Stop Hunger Now11427019_886283701444413_7482536130307530627_n

The chapter was honored and proud to have their Associate Director, Hamiyda Scipio, join them during the momentous service event and meet members of the distance chapter. AMU and APU students came from as far away as Japan to participate, and walk in their commencement ceremony the following day!

In addition to the Stop Hunger Now Service Event, the AMU and APU chapter of Golden Key held several events in conjunction to the university commencement ceremony, including an Honorary Member Induction Ceremony and a formal chapter meeting where new members were recognized and cords provided.

The events were a huge success!



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