Denver Teen Making a Difference Abroad

Name: Oliver Oglesby
Hometown: Denver, CO
Education: Denver School of the Arts, Class of 2014

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Interests and Passions:
Drawing and doodling are lifetime hobbies.
Loves skiing at his favorite resort, Copper Mountain.
Works part-time as a barista in a local coffee shop and bakery.

Transformational Experience: Building a Sustainable World™, Dominican Republic

Making an Impact: Designed and funded an Aquaponics project, “Project Ascensión,” with the aim of providing refugee camps with a sustainable source of nutrient-rich food.

“Every person can make a difference in their own way. You just have to open your eyes to realize how!”

Oliver Oglesby

Dreams for the Dominican Republic

When Oliver Oglesby decided to travel to the Dominican Republic with the Global Leadership Adventures “Building a Sustainable World” Program in Summer 2013, little did he realize that his experience abroad would change his goals for the future so drastically.

“When I arrived in the DR, my eyes were really opened to the realities of poverty and circumstance. I was leading a completely different life than many of the people I met. The lack of simple resources in many of the areas that we visited was shocking.”

Oliver quickly became invested in the projects that GLA’s Director, Dr. Dave Addison, was working on with students from previous summers who had returned to continue their work.

“Using design in innovative ways in order to provide sustainable solutions for those living in the DR is something I’m become very passionate about. I’m studying design and architecture in school, and it was amazing to see that I could use my creativity to make life better for people in the developing world. I really believe that forward-thinking, simple, and sustainable design could change our world.”

During his time in the DR, Oliver had the opportunity to learn about aquaponics- a self-sustaining system that can provide fish, crawfish, and prawns- along with nutrient-rich plants, to a community in need of food.

“In areas like Ascensión, a refugee camp we worked in with GLA, many people eat only once every few days. There’s a lack of food, and these areas can often be cut off from a lot of trade and commerce. I saw that aquaponics could solve many of the problems that Ascensión faces in terms of securing healthy food for the community, and I decided that I would try to make it happen!”

Between fundraising for travel back to the DR to implement his project in Summer 2014, designing an aquaponics system appropriate for Ascensión, and finishing his senior year of high school (and applying to 11 prestigious universities in the process), Oliver has had a busy year.

“I’m really excited for what lies ahead. I’ve got the opportunity to return to the DR and work on my project, and I can’t wait to see the progress. I’ll also be deciding where to attend college, and I’m really considering which program will support my education in both design and humanitarian contexts. I used to separate these interests, but after my experience with GLA, I realize how connected intelligent design is to problem-solving for communities in need.”

To learn more about Oliver’s work, check out this video, or visit Project Ascensión’s website.