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Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran, India, 19

Project: Silk Road Biking

Basic Human Needs: Education

While growing up in southern India, Kesava noticed that many of his community members held negative stereotypes about citizens from surrounding countries. At age 16, when Kesava attended United World College, he met students from many other countries and immediately realized that the negative perceptions he grew up hearing, were not only unfair but also untrue. A couple of years later, Kesava was asked by a friend to join a cycling trip from the United World College campus in Bosnia to China. Kesava saw this trip as an opportunity to promote intercultural understanding, and the idea for Silk Road Biking was born. Silk Road Biking is an organization that encourages and supports travel enthusiasts to connect with the communities they visit and to share their stories as a way to help break stereotypes. The Silk Road Biking project, which started as a one-time trip, now reaches over 7 million people across various media platforms. Kesava and his friends were the youngest people in the world to cycle across the Silk Road to China, passing over 4,000 kilometers, traversing 9 countries and sharing their stories to build a more peaceful future. Kesava is currently working to unite all travel enthusiasts on one digital platform to share their stories and resources on traveling with purpose, connecting with others and contributing towards an understanding world.