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Episode

98

CAIRO EUBANKS IS ON A MISSION TO

NURTURE A GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF LEADERS

Cairo Eubanks is the new Future Foundation Youth Representative to the United Nations and Youth Steering Committee Member. She is also the Global Correspondent for the Global Oved Dei Seminary and University (GODSU). A curriculum developer, Cairo's created programs for students in Tamil Nadu, South India, and Broward County, Florida, which is the foundation for Bringing the World to Florida. Cairo received a Proclamation from Mayor Dale Holness on October 10, 2020 and the Rising Star Award from Mayor Wayne Messam for her community work and program development that foster leadership development and culture exchange. She reigns as Miss Back Florida USA 2022 for Miss Black USA. Cairo is on a mission to nurture a global community of leaders and professionals by strengthening their voice and confidence.

IN THIS EPISODE

[01:18] On what Cairo’s most passionate about

 

[02:19] On her travel inspirations

 

[06:04] On her work with GODSU

 

[07:15] Cairo’s work as a Youth Representative for the UN

 

[09:49] On her mission in Tamil Nadu

 

[12:18] On Cairo’s work in Florida

 

[16:40] On her Miss Black Florida journey and how she challenges pageant misconceptions

 

[25:35] On her desire to be of service to others

 

[23:16] Cairo’s mission with CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites

 

[24:53] Her Dream for Women

RESOURCES

Website

Instagram

FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to The Passionistas Project Podcast, where we talk with women who are following their passions to inspire you to do the same. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington, and today we're talking with Cairo Eubanks, the New Future Foundation Youth Representative to the United Nations and Youth Steering Committee member. Cairo is also the Global Correspondent for the Global Oved Dei Seminary and University, GODSU.

A curriculum developer, Cairo's created programs for students in Tamil Nadu, South India and Broward County, Florida, which is the foundation for Bringing the World to Florida. Cairo received a proclamation from Mayor Dale Holness on October 10th, 2020, and The Rising Star Award from Mayor Wayne Messam for her community work and program development that fosters leadership development and cultural exchange.

She reigns as Miss Black Florida USA 2022 for Miss Black USA. She's on a mission to nurture a global community of leaders and professionals by strengthening their voice and confidence. So please welcome to the show, Cairo Eubanks.

Cairo: Hi Amy! Hi Nancy! Thank you so much for having me.

Passionistas: We're so excited to have you and to learn more about all of the amazing things you're doing. We like to start by asking, what's the one thing you're most passionate about?

Cairo: Oh, that is a fantastic question. I would say what I am most passionate about would be... can I have two? I'd like to put two into one answer, and it would be leadership development and cultural exchange. And just based off of the experiences that I've had as a Jamaican and American, as a dual citizen, and getting to travel the world. I've had the honor and privilege of getting to travel to about 26 countries by the age of 26.

The lessons that I've learned as it relates to the dialogue conversation, the importance of being able to connect with others and use your story is what makes me so passionate, because I realized the weight or the power and the value that comes with telling your story. So when I talk about leadership development and cultural exchange, it really ties in together with my passion of being able to help people tell their story and to tell it with enthusiasm.

Passionistas: What has inspired all of this travel and how have you been able to do that?

Cairo: I believe that when people ask me that question, it's always great to start at the beginning, right? And when you think about my name, Cairo, my parents, they wanted me to have an Afro-centric name that tied me back to the African continent.

And they did this, not just with myself, but also with my siblings. So I'm Cairo like Egypt. My sister is Sudan like the country because she's 14, she's a whole country within herself. And then my brother Dakar, like Senegal. And they wanted us to really have curiosity and to learn, you know, be more curious about our heritage and realize that our connection to Africa, you know, is still there. And so by having my name Cairo, I wanted to not only go to Egypt, I wanted to go to Senegal, I wanted to go to Sudan as a young child.

And then on top of that with my mother being Jamaican, I would go to Jamaica for days, weeks, months at of time. And the experiences that I got to have living with my grandparents, getting to hear stories about, you know, how they saw the world, right, relative to how my family in the United States, from my American side, saw the world. And also some of the similarities are the commonalities that they shared. It really helped me realize that no matter where I was in the world, I always felt at home. And, you know, I really credit that to my parents being from two different countries.

But then on top of that, you know, having my name, getting a little taste of the world and getting to be, you know, throughout the Caribbean, because of my mom being Jamaican, it made me realize that I wanted to see more and I want it to learn more about the world around me. And so I got opportunities to study abroad and to travel abroad, most notably with Semester at Sea.

So when I was a junior in college, I got this opportunity to go to, let's say it was about 10 different countries and, you know, three different continents. So we were actually in, well, actually more than that, we were in Europe, we were in Africa and then we were also throughout the Americas, as well as.

Just the experiences that I had, it really helped me realize, wow, I can do this. It's not so daunting to get to be able to get your visa or to get to travel. And, I mean, the stories I can go on and on about some of those memories that I had. But it really inspired me to continue to travel and to combine my love for traveling with my passion for education and leadership development.

So after I had that experience at Semester at Sea, actually during that time, I had a conversation with a professor who told me about opportunities to get to teach abroad and to work with non-profits internationally. And that's how I got that opportunity to teach in Tamil Nadu, India. And when I was creating public speaking workshops for students that were targeting on their development, their personal and professional development, I had some incredible conversations about discrimination, about prejudice, but also about, you know, different traditions and what made our, you know, different cultures, so unique, but also what did we have in common.

And just these experiences as a whole. And I'm trying to bring you up back to, you know, the present, but, you know, seeing that origin story of having my name, recognizing that my name connected me to the world around me, and then recognizing that those experiences that I had getting to travel the world. I then knew that it was then my mission to create opportunities for others, especially younger generations to have those same experiences.

Passionistas: So you're a Global Correspondent for GODSU. So tell us about that organization and the work you do with them.

Cairo: Absolutely. So as the Global Correspondent for Global Oved Dei Seminary and University, it's an interstate e-learning institution. And a lot of the work that I do outside of representing GODSU at different conferences. So most notably we were the first sponsor of the African Investment and Trade panel for the Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo. We were able to have dignitaries from, you know, six different African countries, throughout the continent, come together and talk about trade and opportunities to get to invest in their countries.

So that's a lot of the work that I've done, either being able to promote, you know, international trade opportunities that exist throughout the African diaspora. That's a lot of the work that we do in terms of, you know, different conferences that we host different events that we're part of. And then also being able to host some of the Empower U Conferences that we have here at GODSU.

So it's like, there are a lot of different things that I do, but it's all titled and really targeted towards international development and empowerment as well.

Passionistas: So you're also a Youth Representative for the UN. So tell us how you got involved with that and what exactly do you do?

Cairo: Yes. So I'm a Youth Representative for New Future Foundation to the United nations. So I represent my NGO. And the way that that happened, it's actually connected to GODSU. It's a funny story.

So I was speaking, I was hosting one of the Empower U conferences, and we had a guest speaker. Her name is Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, and she has been affiliated with the UN for over 50 years. And she is a UN goodwill ambassador to Africa for the African continent.

And so when I had the pleasure of getting to hear her speak as a panelist, I just said, you know what? At the time I was in college, I wanted to be connected. I wanted to be able to intern in some way and just get as close to the headquarters as possible, because I knew that my, as you can see my passion for development, is really, has a global focus. And I thought, what better place than to get to be in that, in that space, at the UN? And so I pulled her aside after the conference and I just told her, I said, "Queen Mother, I want to work with you. I want to learn. I want to be mentored by you."

And it's actually quite interesting because that opportunity of asking for help or asking for guidance and just telling her, you know, as a young 20-something year old, I wanted to be able to grow from, you know, being under her tutelage. She allowed me to be first an intern for her NGO and then a Youth Representative. And then I had the opportunity to be selected for the Youth Representative Steering Committee under the United Nations Department of Global Communication 's Civil Society Unit.

And so when I got the opportunity to be on this committee where it's about, I want to say about 25 different youth representatives that represent different NGOs all across the world. And we are the voice and we advocate for the youth perspective as it relates to, you know, civil society or the community.

 So I say all of that, just to say that I got... I went from approaching her as someone who just wanted to learn and just, teach me and I want to learn anything. I'll send in reports, whatever you need me to do, Queen Mother, to then being able to progress where I'm on the committee and I'm representing my NGO for the second term, as of actually this month. So that's a huge blessing.

Passionistas: You mentioned your travel to Tamil Nadu in India. Tell us what the mission was on that journey and what you took away from that experience.

Cairo: So I had had a capstone project as an Omprakash Ambassador to create public speaking workshops and to see how we can be able to use public speaking as a part of breaking the cycle of poverty. Because the program that I was working with and the organization that I was working with in South India, they had this concept of education breaking the cycle of poverty and being able to empower others using knowledge. And so they would create opportunities for students to be able to get scholarships, or education, and be able to then provide for their families by giving them enough education of skills to complete undergrad, and then be able to then give back to their immediate families.

 So that being said, when I learned about this mission of the school, I realized that I wanted to create, you know, leadership programs. And I had done them in the past, but I never created something on this scale where it would actually be a part of my capstone project and I'd be doing research on it. And so I got guidance.

Guess that ties right back into the previous question about Queen Mother Dr. Blakely as to how to proceed for that research. And next thing, you know, I submitted my proposal and it was accepted and, then the next thing you know, I'm in Bangalore, India, and then traveling to Hosur.

And I, and it was wonderful being able to work with the high school students that I did. Getting to use the program that I created, you know, weekly. The public speaking workshops that then became the foundation for what I'm doing right now, which is bringing the world to Florida and international virtual student exchange program. So I feel like, I feel like with every question I'm trying to bring it full circle to bring you to where it first started, and then how it got me here today.

Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington, and you're listening to The Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Cairo Eubanks. To learn more about her mission to nurture a global community of leaders and professionals by strengthening their voice and confidence visit cairospeaks.com.

If you're enjoying this interview and would like to help us to continue to create an inspiring content, please consider becoming a patron by visiting thepassionistasproject.com/podcast and clicking on the Patron button. Even $1 a month can help us continue our mission of inspiring women to follow their passions.

Now here's more of our interview with Cairo.

So tell us about the work you're doing in Florida.

Cairo: Absolutely. Okay. So not only am I Miss Black Florida, and I have different communities, or I should say different committees rather, that I'm a part of including the Broward County Social Justice Task Force. I was on the Mayor's Public Safety Council and more. So I say all of this to say that I have a vast interest in being a part of the community and finding solutions to the communities, you know, any issues that may arise.

And so the story for Bringing the World to Florida really began when I had an issue that I created an event out of, and it inspired students to then ask me to create a curriculum. And the event was unfortunately birthed out of cyber harassment.

So there was a guy on my campus and I'm just going to call him Andrew, just for the sake of argument or for a conversation. And Andrew had been trying to, you know, reach out to me and I would block him and whatnot. I didn't really know too much about him. I just knew that there was something like, kinda off about him. And I didn't, I didn't really feel comfortable around him. And I found out from someone I didn't even know because I didn't have Instagram at the time. But he had taken my pictures off of Facebook. I don't even know. I don't, we're not even friends on Facebook. He took my pictures off of Facebook and he posted them on a lewd Instagram account that he created himself. And so, not only was my picture up there, and someone sent me a screenshot, but there were other people from my school, other people in my sorority and more. And I got so upset about this, and I said, something has to be done.

Many of them had actually filed police reports because he had created a fake academic study. It's ridiculous. He created a fake academic study to try to solicit explicit photos or to give them, and he said that he had faculty permission to do so. So this is, yeah, so that was a situation.

And I created a Facebook post and 150 comments later, we had about 30 plus individuals who were able to provide like a compilation of screenshots of things that I was able to say, you know, what. Even though they provided this to the police and they did, you know, police reports or they would report it to the school, or to his then fraternity. It just didn't feel like there was enough.

And so I said, what can I do? What can I do so that not only do I not feel stuck, but also other people do not feel stuck as well. Because he was not only doing this to me and all those other individuals, but we know that he was also harassing others online. And some people were saying that there were issues where they felt like he was stalking them, like he was trying to follow them home.

So we said, you know what? We need to take preventative measures. And how can I do that? Create a community event for resources for students. So teens, incoming freshmen, sophomores, and then parents. And it became a huge success.

We had partners with the Anti-Defamation League. We had the Broward Sheriff's Office. We had the Broward School Climate Action and Discipline Department among other organizations and partners, both locally and nationally. And then we had kids who said, "you know what? We love this. Can you come to my school? Like, you know, I don't even want community service hours for this. Let me get you to my school." And we said, you know what?

This was intended to be a one-time event. But what I did was I used the students who had been part of the program and I said, okay, "what kind of curriculum do you want to see? What sort of programs would you like to see that do not exist in your school at this time or within the community that you haven't found?"

And we surveyed them and we took their answers. And then we created a whole course wrapped around some of the answers that they asked for. So we have a curriculum that's self-paced, we have workshops and events and conferences like Operation Stop Cyber Harassment. So that's now a part of our Asking for Help Module. And then we have other opportunities for skill building as well for the kids, so that they can take what they learn in the curriculum and actually get apply it.

Passionistas: You are also Miss Black Florida USA, as part of the Miss Black USA Organization. So tell us how you got involved with that and what you do to challenge the misconceptions about title holders in the organization.

Cairo: Oh, my goodness. My story is quite interesting. Okay. So, the short version of this, because I do want to keep this brief and get to the whole point of the misconceptions. That's really what I want to focus on. But it began in 2020 when I competed in my first competition, for Miss Broward County for Miss America.

So I competed and I won on my first try and that was a huge blessing for me. And it was big for me because I had never seen myself as a pageant queen prior to competing for this. And if it had not been for my mother, if it had not been for those around me, who said, you know what? This is your last year. You're going to age out. You might as well try it out. You'll get a good experience. You can use that towards, you know, programs that you're creating, et cetera. I just decided to take a leap. And then was shocked. I was shocked.

That being said, I was competing and preparing for Miss Florida. And I remember the opportunity that came up for Miss Florida for Miss America. I was getting ready. It was June, 2021, and literally three days before my competition, I had a rocking chair like roll over my foot and crushed it. And I got nerve damage in my foot. So I was like literally in a scooter all through competition week and it was tough. And I ended up not being Miss Florida for Miss America.

And I remember thinking to myself. I was like, you know, God had told me, and I'm a spiritual person, right? So I talk about God, but you know, God had told me that he saw that I was going to be a state title holder. And he said that "you were still going to be able to create and move your project, Bringing the World to Florida as a state title holder."

And I applied, I actually got asked. It's so funny cause I got asked to send in my information and they had allowed me to be on the spot accepted. So I sent in some application information, but I ended up accepting the role. And I really appreciated just the opportunity that I got to then, you know, be able to be Miss Black Florida and to get to promote what it means to really be a state ambassador and to promote, you know, not just the wonderful things that people associate with Florida. Which of course is, you know, we have Disney, we have Orlando, we have Miami, we have the beaches, we have the Everglades. Yes.

But we also have business. We also have culture here that you cannot find anywhere else. So that being said, one misconception that I believe a lot of people have about pageant queens in general, is that it's just about looks, you know, and it's not just about looks. And I believe that a lot of these competitions, they're purposefully, really showcasing that it's not just about how you look when you see some of the winners. For example, some of the different systems that exist like Zozibini Tunzi from Miss Universe, Miss Universe 2019. She is a Black South African woman with short cropped hair. And no one had ever seen someone like her, you know, take the world by storm as Miss Universe.

 There's really a chance for us who have been seen as not necessarily the stereotypical or the traditional pageant queen to really showcase the other qualities or the characteristics that Queens have, like our ability and desire to be servant leaders, to be part of the community. I don't know anyone else who would say yes to community service opportunity faster than a pageant payment, honestly.

And it's because of the fact that we do want to be out there, and we realize that part of our responsibility is to be present and to be able to be a connector for the community. And, like, I can't even begin to describe to you the personal and professional development that I had.

And I know that there's some people who are like, what, like getting ready for Miss Broward County? Yeah, no it changed my life because it allowed me to be in that space where I had to learn something completely from scratch. And I had to be humble a hundred percent and be like, listen, I don't know how to walk in heels more than three inches high, you know? And I don't know how to do my makeup, but I learned. And it was a humbling experience to learn.

So there's some misconceptions, but I believe that the more that people learn about the stories, the tragedies, or the challenges that, you know, title holders have had individually and how they overcome that and how they use their stories to inspire others can help to balance out some of the misconceptions that people have about wearing a crown.

 

Passionistas: Where does this desire to be of service come from? Is this something that your family has always done? Did your parents teach you to think this way?

Cairo: Absolutely. My parents, they always instilled in me this idea or vision of being a servant leader and what it means to serve first. When we talk about leadership and what it means to be a leader, there's always people assuming like, oh, you have to be the loudest person up there and you have to be the one that's like telling everybody what to do. But oftentimes you can lead by example, and you can lead by example by serving others.

And because I grew up in a very, you know, spiritual household, it was this concept of being able to discover your passion of what, you know, God or the universe has intended for you to have, and then to be able to share that and to recognize that we're all connected. And if there's something that I can do to bless someone else or to be of service to someone else, then that allows me to also get blessed in return.

So we would say like a little saying, that we would say in my home and also in Jamaica, is this idea of like lotioning up your hands. Like if you lotion up someone else's hands, you end up getting moisturized too. And so it's just this concept. And the more that I got to do that and got to help others the better I felt. And the more I felt like I had a light to share with others, you know, and that inspires me and that keeps me going.

And so that's really where it comes from. It's like this family concept of servant leader and recognizing that the more that I get to be of service, the happier that I get to be. I don't know. I think it's a, win-win.

Passionistas: Tell us about CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites and what your mission is with those projects.

Cairo: Yes with CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites. So out of CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites. Okay. So let me back up a little bit. CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites, there are two parts to it.

CairoSpeaks. So there are leadership development and all-in speaking coaching aspects to, you know, the services that I provide there. And then also with CairoWrites, I've written biographies, I've ghost written material, as well for my clients. And I've also written speeches.

I would say that the best part about what I've done with CairoSpeaks/CairoWrites is that I have created a space for me to get to share like what I love most. And I've shared, you know, when it comes to the leadership development and cultural exchange. But also from not just from a youth perspective, but being able to be of service, to everyone.

So for example, I had an opportunity to be the keynote speaker for Martin Luther King Day for the city of Boca Raton this past month. And that was a huge blessing. And I got to, you know, inspire and empower with my keynote speech not just youth, but also people of all ages. And so a lot of the work that I'm doing right now and what I'm transitioning my business to doing is focusing a lot on, you know, speaking opportunities, sharing my message, sharing my light as-- my business partner Rena would say, "not dimmering your shimmer, but instead being able to show that shimmer everywhere"-- and being able to transition more into that route.

Just because a lot of the leadership development programs that I was doing at one point, I've now focused all of my energy into Bringing the Globe and Bringing the World to Florida.

Passionistas: What's your dream for women?

Cairo: My dream for women is to really understand their value. And that was a conversation that I was actually having prior to this interview and just realizations that I have even about myself. You know, I realized that, you know, someone can look at my bio or look at my background and look at the bullet points of, you know, my resume or my CV and say, wow, you know, this person has done so much. But that doesn't necessarily mean that that's how I necessarily could feel about myself.

And see, and I recognize that there are books that I've read, you know, talking about women who are CEOs and high performing executives. And the reality is that there are so many women who are working so, so hard and they have accomplished and achieved a lot and yet don't feel that way, you know? And so even though I do feel accomplished and everything like that, I took a moment today and I said, you know what? Wow, Look at how valuable I find myself to be. We have to remind each other of how valuable we are, way past what we can do on paper, but our hearts and our souls.

And that is what I would tell women today, is to recognize your value, recognize your value past a monetary dollar amount, and to realize that you are incredible just the way you are. And I know it sounds cliche to say that, but it is true. And we don't hear that enough. And if it is cliche, because we've heard it too many times, maybe it's gone out, you know, gone from one ear and out the other, but we really need to internalize that.

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to our interview with Cairo Eubanks. To learn more about her mission to nurture a global community of leaders and professionals by strengthening their voice and confidence visit cairospeaks.com.

Please visit thepassionistasproject.Com to learn more about our podcast and subscription box filled with products by women owned businesses and female artisans to inspire you to follow your path. Get a free mystery box with a one-year subscription by using the code SPRINGGOODIES. And be sure to subscribe to The Passionistas Project Podcast so you don't miss any of our upcoming, inspiring guests.

Until next time, stay well and stay passionate.