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Encounters of the CEI Kind

Updated: Aug 8

Everyone involved with CEI has their own stories to tell and for all of us, one of the most interesting is how we came to be involved with CEI in the first place. It is our CEI superhero origin story. For Spiderman, it was a bite from a radioactive spider, for the rest of us it's nothing quite so dramatic, but there's always a story there. A story which shaped and continues to shape our CEI adventure. We'll be exploring these stories over time but what better place to start than with the CEI alumni committee.


Jana - Chairperson

Student: Denmark 2008, Scotland 2009, Maastricht 2012

Alumni: Scotland 2013, Taiwan 2014, Portugal 2015


Caretakers began for me when I was very young. My father was the past President of CEI and went to the very first conference. Every summer he would return with amazing gifts from amazing countries. As soon as I was old enough I went as a student and alumni and built my very own CEI family. Something which every past and new attendee will get to do taking part in CEI.


Julien Beuken - Alumni Liaison

Student: Aberdeen, 2009

Alumni: Maastricht 2012, Scotland 2013, Taiwan 2014


My Caretakers story began in 2009, when I attended the conference with a project about CO2 neutral public buildings. I loved hearing about all the other projects from students, many of whom became friends during the conference, from around the world. When the conference in 2012 was in my hometown I happily joined CEI again. The mixture of education, culture and friendship CEI conferences offer is unlike anything else. It’s a high-intensity week of inspiration and learning about sustainability, about cultural backgrounds of other people and about the place you are. It inspired me to dedicate my life to fight the good fight for a more equal, healthy and sustainable world and I hope that we can inspire many more young people and schools to do the same.


Laura Kelly (formerly Cox) - Secretary

Student: Poland 2006, Hong Kong 2007, Denmark 2008, Scotland 2009,

Alumni: Maastricht 2012, Scotland 2013, Taiwan 2014,

Mentor: Portugal 2015, Denmark 2016


My CEI story dates back a long time because I actually attended my first conference in 1998, at the age of six! The conference host was my father and the conference was partially held in the school he used to teach in which is about a ten minute walk from my childhood home. I remember clearly the poster presentation and going on a fieldtrip led my mother to a local mill. Between 1998 and 2006, I just remember my father always disappearing off to CEI for a week every summer and coming back with unusual gifts - I still have the wooden rhino he brought back from Kenya! My first proper conference experience was in 2006 when my father was the President of the CEI Board and we drove from Vienna, where we were on an orienteering holiday at the time, all the way up to the conference in Poland. We were able to attend a couple of days and it made such an impression on me that I begged him to bring me as a student to the 2007 conference in Hong Kong (which he did). Then began a journey that I am still on as I have moved from student to junior alumni to mentor (to students bringing a project) to senior alumni. A journey which has shaped my path in life, given me lifelong friends, a love and appreciation for different cultures and a desire to forever be a caretaker of the environment.


Nadia Young - Social Media Director

Student: Scotland 2013, Taiwan 2014, Portugal 2015

Assistant Alumni: Taiwan 2014, Portugal 2015

Alumni: Oregon 2017


My father and my brother attended the conference in 2012 and I remember being so upset that I was not able to attend. I joined all caretakers Facebook groups out of excitement to partake in the conference. Once I was in high school I finally attended the Scotland conference. I recognized so many faces from facebook groups and from my dad’s alumni conference calls. Everyone welcomed me with open arms and became the family I never knew I needed. I created a family of people from every part of the world and nothing besides advocating for our planet mattered.


Samuel Thelaus - Junior Alumni Coordinator

Student: Maastricht 2012, Scotland 2013

Assistant Alumni: Taiwan 2014, Portugal 2015


My Caretakers story began in 2012 when the then-President of the organization, Birgitta Nordén, brought me to the conference in Maastricht to present my project on sustainably efficient packaging of food products (think of all the empty space in your cereal box for example). I fell in love with the conference spirit and made friends and family from Japan to the USA. The conference has given me a broader world-view and an understanding of the connection between the local and global fight for the environment.



These are just some of many origin stories out there about CEI. What was your origin story?

Please let us know in the comments below or contact us so we can share some of these amazing stories with the rest of the CEI family!





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