Meet a future thought-leader, Bobby Koys

Ever since a family visit to South Africa in 2012, Bobby Koys, from just outside of Chicago in the USA, has become one of Good Work Foundation’s (GWF) most unwavering supporters. To us, he is a cheerleader, a donor and a friend. You’ll often see him commenting on Facebook and encouraging our team with his kind words and interesting ideas.

Bobby recently created a GWF video for one of America’s biggest online fundraising events, called “Project for Awesome”.

Here is our five minutes with Bobby, and I can guarantee that you’ll be be surprised by the wisdom contained in some of these answers.

Ryan: Bobby, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Bobby: My full name is Robert John Koys. Oooh, sounds fancy, does it not? I live in La Grange, Illinois a suburban town outside of Chicago, and I go to a Catholic school in downtown Chicago that was founded in 1869, and was one of the few buildings that survived the great Chicago Fire of 1871. I am fifteen years old, and my birthday is July 3, 1998.

Ryan: Can you tell us a bit more about Project for Awesome?

Bobby: Project for Awesome is an online event founded by YouTube stars John and Hank Green. You upload a YouTube video via the website every year on December 17 and 18, and the video promotes your favorite charity. People can choose to donate directly to your charity, or vote for it in hope of the money that the event itself raises. The top ten voted videos get some of the money, and I think I heard John say that twenty charities will get the money this year due to us raising around $860,000. They raised more money in one day in 2013 than they did the entire time in 2012.

Ryan: Why did you choose Good Work Foundation for Project for Awesome?

Bobby: I chose GWF because I went to Londolozi in 2012 to go on safari with family members. I wanted to do some charity work, because I thought there would be some available for us in the area. When we found GWF, we were surprised how big the students were dreaming. What stands out the most to me is how GWF tell the students to dream big, and how up-to-date they are with teaching and learning.


Bobby (second from right) with family at Londolozi

Ryan: Many of our students look up to Nelson Mandela. Who is your role model and why?

Bobby: There have been many great people throughout history. Mandela, Ghandi, Churchill, etc. With so many great people, it’s hard to know how to choose or where to begin, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be John Green himself. He encourages learning of all types, wants us to think globally, wants us to help the less fortunate, uses the Internet, a fairly new phenomenon, very well, knows how to speak to his audience, and most importantly, he tells you to be who you want to be. Wow, that’s a whole bunch of stuff!

The one that spoke to me the most was his encouragement to be a unique person, because growing up, I was considered the “weird kid” due to my highly energetic personality and unique interests. There were some times where I just wanted to be like everyone else, but he told me to be unique. I now embrace my personality with great love, and I’m glad that many more people at my school now accept it. Another memorable piece of advice he gives for people who don’t know what to do with their life, is that you don’t have to spend your entire life doing ONE thing. Can’t decide whether you should be an engineer or a musician? Maybe you can be an engineer that writes songs in his free time, just in the way that John Green is both an author and an internet star. Life is also full of surprises. You just never know what’s in store. Maybe you just stare up at the sky one night and decide you wanna get a PhD in astrophysics. I also like how up-to-date he is. I think he should be the best role model of the 2010s!

Ryan: We love to get other people’s perspectives on education. Would you say that schools in the US teach digital literacy well?

Bobby: I think that they do, especially in more recent years. When I was in first grade, we played educational games on CDs. Haha, remember those? When we went up to the higher grades, we learned how to use different types of software, most of which I think was useless. At my high school all freshmen are required to take multimedia, which is speech and technology combined into one class, which I think is useful. They also teach a little bit of basic code in multimedia, and when you get older, you have the option of learning more of it by taking AP JavaScript. That’s the only language I think they teach. Unfortunately, they don’t have any of the “fancy-pants” languages like Python or Haskell. Public schools probably teach it a little less, but it has definitely improved thanks to that new “Hour of Code” ad campaign.


Bobby at Madlala Digital Learning Centre

Ryan: Bobby, you are definitely unique and we are so glad that you decided to embrace that. Thank you for making an incredible video for us. Thank you for supporting what we do from across the sea, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on education. This year Kate will be introducing “code” to our learners – we will keep you up-to-date.