Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-famous anthropologist, likes Chris Bashinelli. We think you will, too.
Bashinelli hosts a TV show called Bridge the Gap on bridgethegaptv.com and PBS. On the show, the 25-year-old Eagle Scout travels to some of the poorest places on earth (Uganda, Tanzania, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation) to “walk in someone else’s shoes for a day” and shine a light on how they are overcoming challenges.
“We never see anything from these countries except pictures of kids with flies on their faces,” Bashinelli says. “I want to find out what their stories are and encourage viewers to get involved and make a difference.”
Bashinelli was born and raised in Brooklyn, where more than 150 nationalities are represented. “There was so much diversity on my block,” he says. “I never thought twice about hanging out with people from Africa, the Philippines, and so on,” he says. But it wasn’t until 2007, when he went to Tanzania on a cultural exchange program, that Bashinelli found his calling.
“I saw people in poverty, but they didn’t care about the material things we had. They wanted an education,” he says. “They looked out for each other.”
That spirit reminded Bashinelli of lessons he learned in Scouting. “You don’t just live for yourself,” he says. “You serve the larger community. I remember all of us Scouts pitching in on jobs together. And everyone is equal. No matter how much money your parents have, everyone chips in to clean up the fire pits or the latrine.”
And that’s the sort of thinking that apparently appeals to Dr. Goodall. “Chris Bashinelli is an inspiration to youth worldwide,” she says. “We need more people like Chris in the world.”
Bashinelli is inspired by his late father, Stephen Bashinelli, a Scoutmaster himself.
Look for the Bridge the Gap episode on Pine Ridge in early 2013 on PBS. And follow Bashinelli on Twitter, @ChrisBashinelli.