Emi Koch started Beyond the Surface International as a network of surfing for youth empowerment and community development projects around the world. As an undergraduate at Georgetown University, Emi channeled support for programs from afar - fundraising, networking, and procuring wetsuits and surfboards. During summers, Emi used her sponsorship with Billabong Womens to work with local partners on-the-ground, teaching surf lessons, facilitating beach cleanups, upcycling projects, and making videos with the kids to promote their talents beyond their socio-economic status.
After graduation, Emi accepted a sports for development fellowship from the DO School in Hamburg, Germany and shortly after, moved to India. Emi spent two years working with different alternative education projects in Northern India and supporting three different surfing for youth empowerment initiatives in the South. After the film, Beyond the Surface, inspired by her nonprofit, Emi met Nicolás Landa Tami, a cinematographer from Lima, Peru. Nico facilitates audiovisual workshops for indigenous communities to share their stories through their own documentaries, photos, and short films. Emi and Nico decided to partner. The two began facilitating participatory media and creative art workshops along the coastlines as a movement from Coast 2 Coast for vulnerable, small-scale fishing communities to share their compelling stories before they disappear - why their human rights, cultural heritage, and healthy oceans matter.
While facilitating workshops in Mazunte, Mexico, Emi and Nico received support from a local yoga & meditation center in exchange for producing a video for the center. The video was so well received that the directors offered for Emi and Nico to join a ten-day silent retreat. The experience profoundly impacted Emi and Nico's lives after noticing the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices. They began incorporating mindfulness teachings into the workshops.
Today, Beyond the Surface International works together with vulnerable coastal communities around the world to build social-ecological resilience by engaging local youth through surfing, storytelling, and mindfulness workshops. Emi recently completed her Master's in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Emi is a 2019-2020 Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow currently in Peru and heading to Vietnam this October.