The 2019 Dragon Challenge Winner:
Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor for Allianz and incoming president of Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge effective fall 2020; Sarah Kiani, Director for the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Health Care; and Jonathan Levin, Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business. Yes, we asked these impressive leaders to evaluate our top Four Finalists, and choose one team to receive an additional $5,000 to support the continuation of their project into the next school year.
We opened with a round table discussion with our judges. They each shared how they pursued their own passions, and described a challenge that helped them be successful in the long run. Mohamed shared about his daughter’s sense of initiative, and how her fire motivates Mohamed in his work today. A healthcare philanthropist, Sarah opened up about struggles she experienced building partnerships with local hospitals — and emphasized the need to keep pressing onward through all complications. Despite helping to save over 250,000 lives worldwide, she still feels like their Foundation could do more. Jonathan Levin talked about the perseverance required to overcome hardship, and our duty to contribute to our communities. It was inspirational to hear from these experienced business and philanthropy leaders.
Then each of our four teams presented: Youth Outdoor Science Education, Native Storytelling, The Book of You, and A Life in Tapestry. Each team shared about their work over the summer with their initial $5,000 in seed money, and how they hoped to continue their work. They shared about mistakes they made and also, the impact they had. They told stories, performed songs, and even presented a published book.
Our judges praised our teams, shared their awe, and asked tough questions. Although it was an extremely difficult decision, the panel agreed to award Native Storytelling with the top prize! Native Storytelling won our Audience Choice award as well! Project leaders and sisters Isabella Madrigal and Sophia Madrigal became our “Challenge Fellows” and will receive an additional $5,000 to continue their work into the next school year. They will additionally partner with our organization to plan next steps for building and maintaining sustainability long term.
“Native Storytelling” blew away the judges and our audience with their presentation that included a scenes performance, musical number, and a rousing call to action for the Native American community. This project is run by Isabella Madrigal and Sophia Madrigal, sisters at Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana. Isabella and Sophia demonstrated stunning leadership over the summer by writing, producing, directing, and acting a play in three locations to over 700 audience members. Their mission is to use the medium of live theater to bring awareness to the ever-pressing issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.
Their play, titled “Menil and her Heart” follows the disappearance of a young Cahuilla girl, her family’s grief, and the efforts of her sister to find her by journeying into traditional Cahuilla stories.
“I cried throughout your entire play
and I must say it truly touched my soul.”
“You don’t heal by forgetting,
you heal from remembering, thank you for that.”
“The message of hope was louder
than the voice of tragedy.”
These are just a few of many comments that have been shared by those who have already seen the play. As our Challenge Winners, Isabella and Sophia will be able to perform their play in at least five other locations who have already reached out to their project since they last performed at Sherman Indian High School.
Isabella Madrigal, Sophia Madrigal (Orange County School of the Arts)
Writing, producing, and performing a play that brings awareness to missing and undocumented Native American women.
- The Press Enterprise, Redlands Daily Facts: “Temecula teen’s play tackles tough topic: kidnappings, killings of indigenous women and girls”
- Indian Country Today: “A Cahuilla play by 16 year old Isabella Madrigal on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”
- Record Gazette: “Redlands play written by Banning teen debuts this weekend”
- Dorothy Ramon Learning Center: “Ahunika”
Fellowship Program 2020
Do you have a great idea for a community service project? Join our 4th cohort next year and become a Dragon Fellow. Applications are open to current High School students (Grades 9-12). #beadragon
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