Origins: A Conversation, an Adventure, an Idea
In 2010 Michael Radke was working at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, co-facilitating a course for undergraduates on how to host conversations with middle schoolers on an upcoming exhibit on Race, its lack of biological basis, the nature of it as a social construct, and the ramifications of it on the lived experience of billions of people around the world. Kristi Radke was working at Ohlone College, hosting a group of Egyptian students on a Fulbright program. During the run of the exhibit she brought her students to a session in the RACE exhibit, and Michael facilitated the subsequent conversation.
It started with an observation by one of the students that while it was interesting to see the western idea of “Race” they didn’t have anything like it in Egypt. Another student pointed out that as a Coptic Christian he could entirely relate to the kind of discrimination he saw in the exhibit. This dissonance sparked an hour long conversation about the many manifestations of race, bigotry, and division in the world. By the end the first student raised his hand and remarked how wonderful it was that we had a place to have such discussions.
Kristi and Michael remarked that we didn’t, this was a temporary exhibit shoe-horned into the context of a science center.
Having gotten married the year before Michael and Kristi had put off an official honeymoon while they settled into new jobs, however when the RACE exhibit closed, they set off on a five-week overland trip around East Africa. It was, as has always been their experience with travel, transformational, opening their eyes to a broader view of the human experience, giving them an opportunity to build new connections, and deepening their love of the world.
As they settled in for the long flight home, Michael and Kristi came to a simultaneous insight: that was an amazing privilege, and an opportunity that all people should get to expand their world view and make a human connection with the people around the world with whom their lives are linked… but it is an impossible (an perhaps foolish) idea to implement. Everyone can’t visit everyone else, the luxury of time, the financial freedom just doesn’t exist.
But then they put the two experiences together. What if there were a new category fo museum, places all over the planet that people could go to have an experience with people and places around the world. We have the technology, we have the pedagogy, Michael was even working in a field that presented a great model (Hands-On Science Centers). A little over a year later the Ubuntu Lab was born.
Dedicated experts with a proven record of success.
Michael has spent the better part of two decades criss-crossing the globe researching, consulting, teaching, and exploring the human experience. Thirteen years ago, a conversation in a township outside of Cape Town ignited his quest to help people find unity in our diversity by helping them connect with their own and others’ humanity. The course of his work has brought him into the offices of international luminaries and experts, as well as grassroots change-makers, entrepreneurs, and educators.
Kristi Radke has been working in education for nearly two decades, more than half of which has been dedicated to supporting international students as they find their paths to success through higher-ed. She has traveled to more countries than most and has a passion for connecting with people and helping them reach their goals whether they want to bring the skills to start a business back to Myanmar, or to enter the global IT workforce.
We have been very privileged to be supported by a global team of talented leaders, each of whom have helped us get where we are today. From journalists to designers, academics to entrepreneurs, we have some of the biggest minds of a generation at work helping us bring the Ubuntu Lab to life. As they have helped us along the way they have contributed their advice, expertise, leadership, and always rolled up their sleeves and dug in with us whenever we’ve asked. Hundreds of people have opened doors, acted as thought-partners, content creators, and been wiling to do anything at anytime which makes the Ubuntu Lab a uniquely collective entrepreneurial effort.
Joining those who have done the hard work of building this idea into something real are hundreds of people around the world who have stood up and declared that Understanding People is powerful, possible, and learnable; and what’s more something all people deserve access to.
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