New York Ideas Exchange

On Wednesday, May 20th, I attended the New York Ideas Exchange in Manhattan. This was a very inspiring experience which included listening to the journeys of many successful entrepreneurs live. This magnificent event was a day full of interviews and conversations. The speakers were CEOs of various companies, volunteers that work for different causes, authors and journalists. My favorite topics were the education in charter schools, Starbucks’s new innovative college program for its employees and what it takes to fight Ebola.

“How will Charter schools change New York education?” Eva Moskowitz CEO of Success Academy was interviewed by Amanda Ripley, the author of, “The Smartest Kids in the World.” Moskowitz believes that the schools in the United States have low academic standards especially in math in the United States. Our public schools believe that we should not make students struggle because it lowers their self-esteem. However, charter schools trust that harder tests and conceptual problems help increase their self-esteem instead. The main goal of educational programs these days is no longer teaching kids, but making money. Charter schools strongly believe in the common core and testing, but learning is most important part of education. For instance, kindergarteners learn aerodynamics and do 135 experiments in charter schools whereas in public schools they do this in 6th grade. Charter schools also believe in discipline and a partnership between home and school. Charter schools want to make sure all students understand that they will get a punishment for their inappropriate actions. That is why charter schools have a high rate of suspensions, like last year they suspended 11% of their students. This percentage is mostly kindergarteners because they want to enforce this rule when the children are young. The suspension rate drops as the students get older because the students have learned to not repeat their mistakes.

Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO, Success Academy Charter Schools, getting interviewed by Amanda Ripley, Author, “The Smartest Kids in the World”

“Can Starbucks save the midddle class?” says Amanda Ripley, the author of, “The Smartest Kids in the World.”  Starbucks has two primary goals, to attract and retain their employees and the education of their employees. Their way of doing so is by offering financial aid to all employees who want to go to college. Starbucks has a partnership with Arizona State University which allows their employees to take courses online for a cheap price. The students have to work at least 20 hours every week for them inorder to be qualified to take this course. Many companies and organizations offer the same opportunity, but the Starbucks is one of the only ones that actually tracks the student’s performance and trys their best to get every employee to graduate with a degree in their hand. They want these students to go on perusing their dreams and finding a job to hold themselves up, financially. Starbucks also makes sure that the student’s college experience is fun without having stress to pay off the tuition. Starbucks has encountered many students getting into college, but dropping out. Students don’t stay because they don’t have any support and people to motivate them. To ensure this support, Starbucks gets instructors to guide them which gains more hope and gets students more creative.

Ella Watson‐Stryker, Health Promoter, Doctors Without Borders USA, getting interviewed by Mary Louise Kelly.

Last, but definitely not the least, I met with a health worker working for Doctors without Borders. She and other workers fought to get Ebola out of Africa. This volunteer’s name is Ella Watson-Stryker who is a Health Promoter. Ella told us that Ebola is an epidemic disease that she didn’t know much about when she first arrived in Africa. She has fought Ebola in 3 different countries including Liberia which went from the highest Ebola infected patients to none. Doctors had to wear many layers of plastic in an average temperature of 110°F to keep themselves protected from getting infected. She said that everyone was always fearful of getting this death defying disease, but she learned to cope with it when she finally understood that she wasn’t the only one scared, everyone was. Her job was to give  families support when they had a family member infected with Ebola. Ella told us that families had a hard time because they had to trust a complete stranger with the hands of their relative’s life. Since no one knew muck about Ebola, it made it very hard for Ella and the others to do their job. They also weren’t provided with many workers and enough supplies. Ella said that many countries in Europe didn’t care about the thousands of people dying in Africa, but as soon as an American doctor got infected with Ebola, they magically were given more workers and supplies. She said that its so sad that it matters more when a white man gets infected than the hundreds of Africans dying daily. Ella stated that resources including knowledge about this disease was very limited even with that people risked their lives to save many others.

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The suit worn by doctors fighting Ebola in Africa.

Those were my favorite events from this conference. For more information go to

I leave you this week with a quote, “Life is ‘time’, those who love life should not waste it in laziness.” – Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya

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