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How Does a Young Leader Inspire Others and Affect Change?

Josef and his CHAMPS class with Canine Ambassador Nutmeg

MLI recognizes high school senior, Josef Marschall, as an exemplary young changemaker. Josef has been involved with MLI since the second grade, when his class participated in our Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS). During weekly virtual calls, he learned about the negative consequences landmines have on individuals and communities. Throughout elementary and middle school, Josef and his class participated in discussions with peers in Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Iraq. The CHAMPS group hosted fundraisers and successfully sponsored five mine detection dogs and helped 11 mine survivors in Yemen.

In 2018, Josef and his family welcomed MDD Nutmeg, a retired mine detection dog, into their family. Nutmeg worked to "sniff out" landmines in Lebanon for eight years. Although Josef was in middle school at the time, he remained active in CHAMPS as a role model to the younger students. The Marschalls often brought Nutmegto visit the school and continue the demining mission. Students adored and honored Nutmeg as the hero she was.

Josef with Canine Ambassador Nutmeg

When Josef started his freshman year of high school, he decided to launch his own campaign to raise the funding for a lifesaving MDD, and to conclude the campaign before he graduated from high school. Josef worked diligently over four years, engaging with students and local charitable organizations to raise awareness and funds for his campaign. Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not deter Josef from his goal; while school was virtual and the world was in quarantine, he continued to work towards his goal of a MDD sponsorship.

In the summer of 2020, Josef participated in MLI's Peace Makers & Problem Solvers (PMPS), a six-week virtual exchange program connecting youth in Yemen and the United States. Josef and his peers created service projects to benefit their communities and Josef and his brother Jon Paul together designed and built a hand-washing station, which they donated to a local homeless shelter to use as a preventative measure for COVID-19.

Joseph and family at the PMPS hand-washing station

In addition to working on college applications, preparing to graduate from high school, completing class assignments, participating in extra-curricular activities, and completing the Congressional Award Gold Program, Josef joined MLI’s first session of Peace Through Sport (PTS). This eight-week program connected students from Lebanon and the US and required all participants to work with their teams to create a meaningful service-learning project to benefit their local communities.

Josef is an outstanding young leader and is the first young person to participate in all three MLI educational programs. In March 2022, just before his graduation, Josef successfully completed his four-year campaign to sponsor a mine detection dog!Josef and his family will visit the Global Training Academy in Texas to select and name a dog to be deployed to Azerbaijan.

Josef presenting his fundraising campaign at a Rotary Club meeting

At MLI, we believe that the impact of young leaders is significant, and they are the key to making the world a better place. Josef Marschall is a prime example of the effect young people can have on their local and global communities. Congratulations to Josef on his many accomplishments! We wish him luck as he goes on to join the Class of 2026 at the United States Coast Guard Academy.


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