Student Rights

"One pen and one book can change the world." - Malala

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AYAN PAUL

@

he/him

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed student rights activist Ayan Paul from South Dallas, TX about how he got involved with youth activism and his organization Carecovid.org.

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism and inspired to start this organization or get involved with it ?

Ayan: I got involved with activism when my dad opened his shop. He opened his shop in South Dallas and I saw the poverty around the area and wanted to change that. I got inspired to start this organization with my friends and I because we wanted to make a change in the community that gave us so much.

Jasmine: Why are you a passionate student rights advocate?

Ayan: I am passionate about student rights because I believe that everyone should get a fair and equal opportunity to success.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism?

Ayan: I am involved with many programs and volunteered my time numerous time and time again.

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message?

Ayan: My peers and I have organized many events where we go to South Dallas and help out people in need. I personally organize one event every year where my family and I around Christmas go to Children’s Dallas and donate toys.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Ayan: Our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better is be more accepting of everyone in need.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Ayan: Its important for the youth to get involved because they can truly make a difference in their community.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?. 6. What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Ayan: Our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better is be more accepting of everyone in need.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Ayan: Just do it ! People will doubt you and not support you but the smile you get to see on other people’s face when you help them is priceless.

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ISABEL RITTINGER

@

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed women's and student rights advocate Isabel Rittinger about beginning her period poverty organization and the conversation about menstruation. 

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism?

Isabel: I first got involved in activism when I began organizing with Fridays for Future Toronto as a climate activist. While I was always fairly interested in learning about the consequences of the climate crisis, it wasn’t until my first climate strike that I became passionate about advocating for the things that I believe in and care about.

Jasmine: Why are you a passionate student and women's rights advocate?

Isabel: I’ve always been really invested in the ways that female-identifying individuals are treated in society, and how the experiences of black and indigenous womxm are even more challenging than mine, as a cis white-passing girl. It boils down to the fact that no one, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, income, religion etc should be denied access to the freedoms enjoyed by others.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism?

Isabel: Because Fridays for Future Toronto is primarily a youth-led organization, I got my start there also!

Jasmine: What was it like to start an organization surrounding period poverty and inequality when it comes to period supplies?

Isabel: Starting an organization is challenging on its own--starting an organization that depends on the collection and delivery of products during a global pandemic is a whole other ballgame. When we started in March, it was the very beginning of the lockdown when no one was leaving their homes and items like toilet paper, water and even period products were being stockpiled. Because of this, we had to adjust the ways in which we’d pick up period supply donations to curbside and contactless pickup. Having to constantly remodel the ways in which we organized, especially as a brand-new organization, was challenging. But every time we came across a barrier, we found quick and effective solutions that have seriously benefited us in the long-run. This is all because of my amazing team of young individuals at BTN who inspire me every day.

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message?

Isabel: In general, the response to my activism has been overwhelmingly positive from my peers and community. Apart from the countless number of friends and family who have supported the cause through joining and donating, as well as the incredible volunteers who’ve taken their time to create period packs, many peers have reached out expressing their support. I’m so grateful to everyone who has shown their support and can’t wait to continue making new friendships and partnerships within my community.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better, in terms of helping menstruating women and girls reach their full potential?

Isabel: I think the main thing society and lawmakers need to rethink is the definition of menstruation in the first place. We at Bleed the North firmly hold that not all women menstruate and not all menstruators are women. The trans and non-binary communities are vital and valid members of our movement and are not defined by whether or not they menstruate. Furthermore, we need to acknowledge how ridiculous it is that individuals are hindered by their periods at all in the 21st century. Menstruation is something affecting nearly half the population, and isn’t a new concept-- most of all, it’s not a choice. Lawmakers and society alike have more work to do in not only providing the necessary support to menstruators and access to period products to those who need them, but actively opposing the stigma around periods.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Isabel: If we saw anything from the massive efforts of students in climate strikes worldwide, we saw that youth are a force to be reckoned with. In a time of such divisiveness and turmoil, students and youth have been continually demanding better from policy makers--exactly what our society needs. I know that many have been told that they’re too young or too small to make change. But in the last year we’ve witnessed the power of young and small people. We aren’t too young, or too small, and the fact that we’re being told we are proves they know our power.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Isabel: Do it. If you see or hear something and say to yourself, “hmm… that doesn’t seem right”, then do something about it. It might be tough, you might get told no, you might get tired, but imagine what the world would look like if everyone who saw inequity just shrugged it off. Sit down, write about what you see that’s wrong, and write out what you think you can do about it. Any person can enact change as long as they believe they can!

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JONATHAN CARTWRIGHT

@jonathanjcartwright

he/him

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed climate justice organizer Jonathan cartwright about how he was inspired to start organizing climate strikes and why it's so important to trust science.

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism?

Jonathan: I got involved in activism after listening to Greta Thunberg. I had always wanted to grow up and “save the world” by becoming a climate scientist, but the conviction in her words made me realize that we simply did not have that kind of time.

Jasmine: Why are you a passionate advocate for both young people and for the environment?

Jonathan: With climate change, young people realize more than anyone how much their livelihoods hang in the balance. They have the clearest picture about what is at stake and what we need to do, and I believe that’s why it’s important to listen to them. Being an advocate for the environment also feels only natural (pardon the pun). The environment is a cathedral of humility, a reminder that we only exist as much as it does. In destroying it we destroy ourselves.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism?

Jonathan: I have gotten involved with youth activism by reaching out to different groups through social media, attending or speaking at different events, and communicating with local activists. There is a vibrant community of activists in Dallas and I feel so lucky to have met so many of them.

Jasmine: What was your experience like organizing climate strikes?

Jonathan: Organizing a climate strike was a roller coaster of emotion. The three weeks leading up to the event were filled with conference calls, meetings, and email chains. It was quite the excitement, but it paid off in the end. I was lucky enough to meet so many other local activists and other young people from different walks of life.

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message?

Jonathan: What makes any of this feel worthwhile is the conversations that have started that were never there before. In our environmental science classes at school, we learn about the issues of climate change, environmental racism, and ecosystem degradation, but these issues feel disconnected from our lives. But I think when someone raises the alarm, especially when that someone is another student, people come to realize the importance of these topics. Climate change is no longer a fact to be memorized. It becomes a story, a tragic story that the students are listening to because they begin to realize that their future depends on it. The same thing happened in my family: we never even talked about climate change, but now it is a topic that pervades every part of our lives and our conversations. It’s a terrible thing to have to think about, but if we ignore it, we cannot expect to save ourselves.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Jonathan: Listen to the science.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Jonathan: Young people realize that they are inheriting a world on the brink of collapse. They see more clearly than anyone the injustices of the systems they inherited, and that can help them speak truthfully about these issues (and we could always use the truth). That’s not to say the older generations can’t or shouldn’t see this way, too, nor is it to say young people should have to have this burden. But they do, and, as Greta Thunberg puts it, someone has to step up and be the adult in the room.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Jonathan: My advice is this: stay true to yourself. It’s easy to lose sight of why you started something in the first place, and get caught up in the “glamor” of activism. While all the speeches and protests are important, so is introspection. I have occasionally lost sight of why I started protesting in the first place. I started because I loved nature and planet earth. The thought of losing it broke my heart. So, I would say: remember why you want to change the world, and hold on to that feeling. It’s obviously important to be open to change and new ways of achieving your goal. But don’t lose sight of the thing that brought you here in the first place.

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NORA SUN

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed Nora Sun about both of her nonprofits Envision and Athena by WiSTEM as well as advocating for girls in STEM.

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism and inspired to start Envision or get involved with it?

Nora: As a child, I was involved in many STEM competitions which required participants to independently come up with a scientific innovation and draft a plan to bring it to life. These competitions were what truly piqued by interest in STEM. When I entered high school, I discovered that the official terms for such a plan was a "proposal," and that proposals were vital for grant applications enabling scientists to bring their research to life. However, proposal writing is seldom taught as part of any curriculum despite how crucial the skill is, so I founded ENVISION with the hope of helping STEMinists learn proposal-writing early on.

Jasmine: Why are you a passionate student rights advocate?

Nora: As my parents have frequently told me, high school is the beginning of a path which largely determines the rest of your life. Therefore, I feel like it's deeply important that all high school students are provided the same opportunities no matter their race, gender, or any other components for their identity, which is why I have founded my nonprofits ENVISION By WiSTEM and ATHENA By WiSTEM, and volunteer for several other organizations with similar goals.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism?

Nora: I mostly got involved through various organizations I discovered through Instagram. My work focuses on providing opportunities to youth, especially for girls in STEM, such as holding workshops, camps, mentorship programs, and providing general resources.

Jasmine: What has your experience organizing competitions been like?

Nora: Organizing competitions has honestly had its highs and lows! I finished my first semester of ENVISION this past summer, and, frankly, it was amazing, but there are also many things I could've done better. Overall, it brought me great joy to read through over a hundred unique entries, and I have never ceased to be surprised by the intelligent ideas of my participants.

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message?

Nora: I am very grateful to have a very supportive community around me. I have brought many of my friends into my activism, and my organizations grow every day with new people from my community. I think having a strong support structure of friends and family around you is especially important for activism work which may sometimes grow tiring alone.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Nora: I think society generally has to provide more opportunities for students from a young age depending on their interests. Oftentimes, students have to outsource for their own opportunities, and many students do not have equal access to said opportunities. Therefore, many students are unable to reach their full potential simply due to circumstance.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Nora: Very simply and briefly put, the youth themselves are the ones most affected. Additionally, the youth of today have very strong voices and are more capable than any other generation before them to speak up, especially through social media, so why shouldn't they get involved?

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Nora: This may sound corny, but, honestly, just go for it! You don't have to have a plan or be familiar with activism work; those are just excuses to put off speaking up. Your activism should be a part of you, it should feel like you, like your identity. And, at first, you may feel like no one hears your voice, but just don't give up, and your hard work will amount to something someday, and it will change someone's life out there. I promise.

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LEO FINELLI

he/him/his

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed our new MKM partner Leo Finelli about how he started with activism, how he's using screenplays to write about social justice issues, and hopefully organizing his first event featuring NeverAgainMSD GVP activists and how he needs your help.

Jasmine: What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Leo: There was no standout catalyst that got me involved in youth activism. I would say that a long string of events in both the news and my personal life, paired with the fact that I have autism/Asperger’s and know the feeling of being voiceless, led me to get involved.

Jasmine: Why are you an impassioned student rights advocate?

Leo: I have been subliminally told that my voice doesn’t matter by society, both because I have autism/Asperger’s and I can come across as a little weird and awkward, and because of my age. I know myself to be a real-life Evan Hansen, and the popularity of that musical sometimes helps other kids my age understand me. I empathize with other people who have been told, undeservedly, that they don’t matter. I have believed, probably since I was only 8 or 9, that young people are the future and MUST be seen and heard and listened to.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism and/or student rights activism specifically?

Leo: I consider myself to be an intersectional social justice activist, which means I focus on all social justice issues without any truly disproportionate focus on one in particular. Right now, when the world is so private, my most direct way of getting involved with youth activism is through three full-length screenplays I’m currently writing about social justice issues. The first one is called “78 Percent,” and it’s about a young woman who realizes that she only earns 78% of what her male colleagues earn, quits her job, and awakens her family to the problems of sexism. The second one is called “Heart Shot,” and it’s about the family of someone who died in a mass shooting coming together one year later to remember the past, face the present, and save the future. The third one is called “The Fire Refugees,” and it’s about a family who moves in with a relative after their house is destroyed by a wildfire and comes to terms with the global climate crisis. However, writing stories and scripts is just one of many ways in which I would like to get involved!

Jasmine: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?

Leo: I’ve never organized any events, but what I would very much like to do is, on a weekend, sometime between now and the election, have a 45 minute Zoom panel conversation with Jaclyn Corin, Ryan Deitsch, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Delaney Tarr about gun violence, youth power, and making our voices heard.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Leo: There are so many things society and lawmakers need to handle better, but so many of these things can be handled better if society and lawmakers were to do just one overarching thing: see injustice from the perspective of those most directly affected by it. Apathy is a pandemic. Empathy is the only vaccine.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to get involved?

Leo: Because it’s our future, and we should be taking our future into our own hands. Whether or not adults legitimately have failed us, it is our responsibility. You’re never too young to be worried about your future, and you’re never too young to help create a better future for yourself and for all people.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Leo: Activism doesn’t have to involve standing in a large public area and holding a sign. Activism doesn’t have to involve speaking in front of large groups. Activism doesn’t require social media. Activism doesn’t have to be about just one issue. If Greta Thunberg, the Parkland Students, and others speak eloquently to crowds and cameras, while you’re in your bedroom just writing about what you want the future to look like, that doesn’t make you any less of an activist than they are. I think many people are hesitant to pursue activism or just call themselves activists because they don’t realize that activism can be whatever you want it to be!

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HAJAR MURRAY

@​

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed our new Student Rights Team Member Hajar Murray about getting involved in youth activism within her local community and highlighted the importance for youth to use their voices.

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism? 

Hajar: In my school district, I saw many flaws and the lack of student voice in decisions being made. Whenever I confronted an adult about this issue I would automatically be dismissed simply because i am a young student, however us students deserve our rights and I took the stand to speak up for our rights.

Jasmine: Why are you a passionate student rights advocate?

Hajar: I am a passionate student rights advocate because there is so much progress being done to giving us students a platform for our voices to be heard because we are the future.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism?

Hajar: I’ve gotten involved with youth activism by being my City Wide Student Council Representative of the Board of Education and simultaneously being the Vice President in my School.

Jasmine: Have you organized or helped organize any events before? If so, what was that experience like?

Hajar: I have both organized and help organize events such as a gun violence event in which students got a platform to speak about their experiences and what could be done. That experience was definitely fun and motivating to help begin something great to initiate a change in my community. 

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message? 

Hajar: My people’s and community have been nothing but supportive and thankful for my stand to speak up for them, i’ve gotten a lot of support in my work and I try to be as collaborative as I can within my community to give off a feel of family and interconnection.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Hajar: I think that our society needs to awaken and notice what our environment is going through. Everyone has their own struggles and working together to uplift each other as a nation and worldwide will only benefit everyone be the best version of themselves. Meanwhile lawmakers in particular need to establish a sense of inclusion of youth rights and opinions into decisions that affect them, whether it’s school related or generally student related matters. This is because we are the future and any changes made to us will affect the way out future will function so we deserve to have a voice.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Hajar: It’s important for the youth to get involved to help better our society. As we can see there are many issues that we all face and since we are next in line to face these calamities we should be as involved as possible to properly lead the following generations.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Hajar: My advice to other young people is to simply go for it and have no regret in speaking for your rights no matter who you face. You deserve as much rights as anyone else because you are capable of changing the present and future more than anyone else so go for it! 

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SAANIKA HALAPETI

@​saanika.halapeti

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed Saanika Halapeti about spreading awareness, her position with FeelGood, and the importance for youth activists to rely on the power of technology to spread their messages.

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism? Why are you a passionate student rights advocate?

Saanika: As I’ve gotten older and become more observant of my community, it becomes more and more obvious that my peers and I live in this bubble. This bubble tends to protect us from the outright atrocities that happen around the world or even within cities that are just 30 minutes away from our suburb bubble. Being a student within the speech and debate community in highschool, I had to research and spend countless hours learning about policy failures and shortcomings within the country and world. It made me feel sort of helpless because I was learning about it and spreading awareness, but that was all I was limited to - competing for trophies by spewing facts about the things happening in the world. I wanted to do more and I wanted my voice to be heard outside of competition and in a community where maybe there could be some change that happened. Fortunately, I live in a day and age where I can be a female and demand for change without being hunted down for it - at least most of the time - that’s just another indicator that we have a lot of progress to make. It made me want to be more of an activist and less of a slacktivist. Just the fact that I had educated myself about so many different domestic issues, it made me more passionate to seek out change because if I could learn it as a highschooler than almost anybody can.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism?

Saanika: I believe activism can come in many shapes and forms such as promoting education for all, spreading awareness about world poverty, and trying to destroy the systemic racism and injustices that exist. I wanted to be a part of those changes and decided that a pandemic can’t be an excuse to remain stagnant. Throughout quarantine, I’ve tried to take on more leadership positions and join organizations such as STEM and Buds (an outreach program directed towards students in elementary and middle school that helps make STEM become something less intimidating and more accessible to all) , FeelGood (a nonprofit organization that spreads awareness about global poverty, potential policy changes to alleviate these disparities, and raises money to feed those that can’t afford to) , and even creating a forum (a safe space for discussion to eventually reach tangible change such as redesigning curriculums to avoid presenting a white-washed America). There are people that are doing so much more, but it made me feel more useful when I knew that I was helping out by donating enough to feed at least one person, to change one person’s prejudice, or to help get rid of the stigma surrounding women in STEM.

Jasmine: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?

Saanika: As the Education/Recruitment Chair of the UTD Chapter of FeelGood, I had to be a part of the effort to help raise money for our first fundraiser. At first, it is a little discouraging because everything can be overwhelming and there is that stationary period of time nobody is donating and nothing is really happening. However, when people start to trickle in and start to show interest, it is INCREDIBLY exciting! It feels amazing knowing that I am part of an effort that could end up feeding so many families as we ended up raising $1268 in less than 48 hours. It gave me a sense of hope that while COVID-19 has worsened conditions for many, it isn’t impossible to continue helping communities out even while staying home and staying safe. Furthermore, I started a forum in the honor of BLM in order to have conversations and collective change occur. Meetings have been happening every so often where topics such as voting, environmental racism, educational disparities, and more are being talked about. I was nervous that this forum would dissipate within the first week of its making, but it ended up seeing continuation and so many intellectual conversations. It was truly enriching to hear other people out and learn more about social movements myself!

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message?

Saanika: With the year 2020, there is a lot more room to be politically incorrect. In the beginning, when I was spreading word about the forum, some of my peers were concerned and told me that it wasn’t my place to host conversation about BLM and other social issues. It made me hesitant and made me doubletake and think about whether or not I should even create the forum. However, I decided to go through with it because there were a lot of encouraging peers as well. My outlook was that my intention was not to speak for the black community or affected communities, but to educate people with facts, personal experiences, and testimonials from those that are part of those communities. I strongly believe that one community’s fight should be everybody’s concern in the sense that people should be bothered that their friends aren’t being treated the same as others. The belief became shared by more and more people as the forum took off and I saw support in large numbers and I couldn’t have been happier with that.

Jasmine: What do you think of our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Saanika: Our society and lawmakers have become more focused on partisanship and staying true to party goals even if it goes against the needs and wants of the people. A member of a certain party may agree with a member of another, but it may not be publicized in fear of public shaming from party constituents or even party members within the government. Lawmakers are driven more by politics than by partaking in the right thing. More than direct policies, I feel like the government, society, and lawmakers need to understand and remember that the government was designed to bolster society and improve it rather than to claw at each other’s throats and blocking policy changes in fear of not being reelected or just to spite opposing members of society. There is a reason why people say, “Pro is to Con as Progress is to Congress.”

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Saanika: Our current generation has access to social media, technology, and globalized community. Our voices matter more than ever and youth need to take advantage of that. Circulating news headlines might’ve taken weeks just a couple decades ago, but now - something happening in the other side of the world can be splattered across everybody’s screens in a matter of minutes or even seconds. We have an advantage and as the future of the world, youth need to put their voices out there and get involved because we’ve never been more powerful. We have access to more education now than ever - that combined with technology and media platforms, there is no telling what change we could bring about!

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Saanika: It is scary to speak out and have to face other people’s opinions; however, remember, they are called opinions for a reason - without them, discourse would not happen. Conversation is the way that the majority of world change has happened, so don’t shy away from them. Whether it be a growing yelling match between you and your dad at dinner or a comment section on social media, it is definitely a start. Another thing is not to be carried away by rewards and recognition. When I was competing back in high school, you could tell the difference between those that were speaking in order to win and those that were speaking in order to spread awareness. Make your words matter more than just a plastic trophy that will probably never come out of your closet again. Make them count and make sure you continue to tell them to everybody that will listen. Finally, don’t fall prey to the idea that you are just one person in a world of billions. One person can make a WAVE of change. Look at Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Emma Gonzalez, Martin Luther King Jr., Ashton Mota, and so many more. These are all single persons that made change for so many members - plural - of our community.

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SWETHA TANDRI

@​swetha.tandri

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed 17-year-old Swetha Tandri about her passion with education inequality, ​organizing STEM and arts related events and activities, and the importance of youth involvement.

Jasmine: Why are you an impassioned student rights advocate? 

Swetha: I am an impassioned student rights advocate because I believe every single child has the potential to change the world. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources. As someone who grew up in a privileged background, I wanted to help even out that gap to give every student the right to a quality education.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism and/or student rights activism specifically?

Swetha: I initially got into youth activism through the environmental sector(as I mentioned earlier) and that was when I first became introduced to the nonprofit/activism space. After I realized reforming education was my niche, I founded an organization Melodies for Math which explains various math concepts through short, compelling original songs in order to bridge the gap between STEM and the Humanities, broaden mindsets towards math, and propel more students toward STEM-related careers. So far we have created 23 songs that have impacted 20+ students directly in 7 countries, 700+ unique viewers across YouTube and our website, and 50,000+ individuals through our active social media campaigns.

Jasmine: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?

Swetha: I have not organized any major events, but I plan for Melodies for Math to have an annual convention, a symposium where people across the STEM & Arts spectrum can meet and share ideas. One of the ideas I have within this event is a Melodies for Math “hackathon” where attendees can create their own projects explaining math concepts through artistic methods.  

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers? 

Swetha: The responses were very positive from peers, family members, and members of my community. All of them rallied around Melodies for Math to help us win funding and mentorship from Brown University through the Her Big Idea Fund. My community also loves the content of Melodies for Math, and claims it to be the product they never knew they needed. I am eternally grateful to my amazing team of 16 as well as my lovely family and community. None of our success would happen without them.  

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better? 

Swetha: I think it’s important for society and lawmakers to listen more to Gen Z and what we have to say. Essentially we are the future, and we have every right to pursue our dreams just like the generations before us. Systemic change is necessary- governments and corporations need to put lives and empowerment over cold-hard profits that benefit only a certain few and exploit many many more.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Swetha: As a member of GenZ, I’ve seen the power that we have. Through our utilization of social media and other mediums, we are taking the world by storm. We should use this to our advantage to fight for the world we wish to see. I know I will.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Swetha: My first piece of advice would be to get yourself out there and build a community and mentorships with those experienced in your desired field. Next, feel free to experiment and find what makes you unique, and then really push that forward! Once you find a cause/org that resonates with you, you will be more inclined to make an impact! For some people the process is simple and for others it may come with multiple failed tries. And that leads me to my next point: don’t give up! Keep trying. Speaking from experience, some days may seem perfect and others the exact opposite. There will be times where you doubt yourself or think you are not good enough. But that is all a part of the process. You are your biggest advocate, your greatest supporter. And it is up to you to decide how your successes and failures impact you.

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LUCIA URRETA

@​

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed Lucia Urreta about her start with activism, involvement with the Sunrise Movement and Earth Uprising, and organizing climate justice events.

Jasmine: What got you involved in activism? 

Lucia: I got involved in activism after the catastrophic floods of Tropical Storm Imelda. That day, it rained so heavily and so suddenly that I could not leave school until 5:30 pm due to the fact that the roads were too flooded to drive through safely. This event reminded me of Hurricane Harvey which had occurred two years before and caused devastating flooding in my community. I decided to do research on why these so-called 500-year storms were happening every two years, and it led me to the climate crisis. Climate change is a real phenomenon happening in Houston, and I wanted to use my voice and writing to advocate for the planet and for the 2.5 million for whom I share a city. 

Jasmine: Why are you a passionate student rights advocate?

Lucia:  I am a passionate student rights advocate because climate change is a problem that students are going to inherit. The older generations who had contributed most to this crisis are going to be gone when the worst global effects of climate change are expected to happen. It makes no sense that someone would study a long career like medicine for example, and not be able to follow their dreams because of the failure to act from people who were in power. Advocating for children includes advocating for our future when we will be the ones leading.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism? 

Lucia: I have gotten involved with youth activism by joining organizations such as Sunrise Movement and Earth Uprising. Action coming multiple people is definitely more effective than coming from only one. And this movement isn’t about yourself or any individual, its about the world and humanity as a whole. I have also done individual work such as speaking to my city council to address why we need faster climate action and hosted a webinar during Earth Day Live.  

Jasmine: Have you organized or helped organize any events before? If so, what was that experience like?

Lucia: I organized my school’s climate strike on September 27th of last year. It was an interesting experience since it was a mix of asking permission from the school to use buses, and trying to get people to join. Both luckily were successful, and it was empowering knowing that an idea could blossom into this kind of event. Also, I organized a webinar as I previously mentioned. This was about the importance of addressing the climate crisis in the American South, a topic that is rarely talked about. This kind of event was more nerve-wracking, instead of being part of one collective mass speaking out it was individual, with people listening. The research for this project was also substantial, going through different scientific articles and studies, and reading about the position of local leaders on climate change. The most important experience from this though is knowing that all this information is at our fingertips, we just need the impulse to talk about it. 

Jasmine: How have your peers and your community responded to your activism and message? 

Lucia: My peers have been supportive of my activism, but I feel like they do not care much about it. Most of the events I organize I do alone, and I wish there was more support from friends and classmates since this is an issue that will affect them also, not just me. There is not much action, and although they have been supportive and encouraging of my message they do not truly participate except for a few people. The response from my community has been similar, verbal support yet not much action. Last October I talked with the Houston City Council about why they need to act faster on the climate crisis. There were supportive words, and suggestions on how I should act, yet there has been little to no response. I appreciate the kind and supportive words from my community, but as many climate activists, I wish there was more action.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Lucia: I think our communities and leaders need to pay more attention to the climate crisis and take it more seriously. Especially in a place like Houston which is highly dependent on the oil industry, lawmakers tend to place economic interests over future wellbeing. Climate change has always been treated as an issue of the future, yet it happens now. Our governments should also use their position and have conversations based on science, and educate the public about these issues. There is also the grave error of thinking that climate change is a leftist issue, especially in the United States, where in reality it is an issue for everyone no matter the party. Storm surges and famines do not care whether the communities are Democrat or Republican, they just happen. And if we are to act on the climate crisis, lawmakers need to realize that the best way to address this as a problem of the present instead of the future and use bipartisan cooperation.

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Lucia: It is extremely important to get youth involved because we are the ones who will lead and work when the climate crisis is expected to hit hardest. All other generations have enjoyed the right of a liveable planet, so why can’t we? If youth do not speak for the future, then who is going to speak out? We cannot be fooled into the thought that being young means that we cannot act. Many times, lawmakers who do not act on the climate crisis say that they want the best for their children. And we the children say what would be best. A habitable planet. No one knows what we need or want if we do not voice it, no one is a mind reader. So if we want to emphasize that our needs include a clean planet, we must say so. 

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Lucia: I would say that you should use your differences in order to act and embrace them. If you are a good artist, draw to raise awareness. If you are a good writer write. Activism is not just one uniform body, it is composed of unique people wanting change. And if your differences are seen as “weird” by other people, just know it is the weirdos that change the world, who think outside the box. Activism means implementing change for a better world, and if the ideas for change are not different, then what change can there be? No matter where you come from, how you think, or how old you are, you can still express yourself and your wishes for humanity and the planet.

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ARISSA ROY

@arissa_roy​

she/her

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed Arissa Roy about her start with youtube, the importance of diversity in youth activism, and Project Power.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically? 

Arissa: First of all, thank you for your kind words! Well, several experiences in my life have inspired me to begin advocating for issues I am passionate about such as lack of access to quality education, but one experience, in particular, was my turning point (as I call it). It was at the end of 2017 beginning of 2018 when I went on my very first trip to India with my family. When I was doing research prior to leaving, I learned that India is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, and when I arrived this fact was proven. Before we left my brother and I decided to raise money to buy school supplies to give to children living in the slums. We wanted to really make a difference. We knew we could not just go to India, without doing anything. So, We ended up bringing two or three suitcases full of supplies like pencils, pens, notebooks, calculators, geometry sets and more. After weeks of eagerly waiting to meet and interact with the children we were supporting, the moment was finally here. When we arrived at the school my heart stopped. I could not believe my eyes. Children aged three to fourteen were sitting on newspapers, under a roof made of blankets and walls which looked like they were going to collapse. They were all stunned at the sight of my family and I. Skipping ahead when we opened the suitcases their eyes lit up and everyone was smiling. To see children and people in general begging for basic necessities of life was something I will never forget. From that moment on I was inspired to fight for access to quality education because I believe that it is the answer to alleviating poverty forever. This is where my journey of activism started. 

Jasmine: Why are you a compassionate student rights advocate?

Arissa: I think what motivates me the most is those kids I met in India. I am speaking, fighting, and advocating for them and all people who feel they don't have a voice because of the circumstances they are in. 

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism and/or student rights activism specifically?

Arissa: I have gotten involved with youth activism in many aspects of my life. Firstly, my youtube channel. I use this channel to spread awareness about issues I am passionate about, to share my opinions, to inspire others and to shine as much positivity in the world as I can! Second, through social media. Especially today in the current circumstances we are living in, social media is an extremely powerful tool. Third, through my organization Project Power. Project Power (https://www.projectpowerglobal.org) is a youth-led initiative working to educate, empower, and connect students from different walks of life. And fourth, through getting involved with other movements and initiatives such as unsinkable youth. 

Jasmine: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?

Arissa: Yes, I have helped organize events within my school community including things such as bake sales, dance-a-thons, and awareness campaigns. At my middle school, I ran the social justice club which gave me the opportunity, as a student, to take leadership in all events. I am so grateful for this because not only did it help me grow as a person, but I think it taught my peers that age is simply a number. You are never too young nor too old to be a leader. 

 

In terms of what it was like… Fun, tiring and inspiring. I think when you organize an event and are waiting so long, to see people benefiting and learning from it is the best feeling. Yes, it takes countless hours of planning and hard work, but at the end of the day, it all works out. 

 

Aside from my school, (as I mentioned above) through Project Power, we will be running events, hopefully in the near future which raise awareness about poverty and inadequate access to education. 

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers? 

Arissa: From the events I have helped organize, the response has been quite positive. I think there is something so special about events with a cause. Like many other areas of life, you are given the opportunity to add an aspect of activism into the mix. This is what I love about activism. All you have to do to start is make changes to your own lives, and then you will inspire others. 

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Arissa: In general, I think societies globally need to fully respect and embrace diversity. Honestly, I believe if we do this first, then all of the other major problems we want to solve will be a lot easier to do so. Humanity has been given the gift of uniqueness and difference. It has been given the opportunity to learn and grow from one another. To lean on each other. In order to put this gift into action, we must be grateful and appreciative. 

 

I like to use the analogy of a rainbow. A rainbow has so many different colours within it just like our society (literally and figuratively). The thing about a rainbow is it is beautiful. Who doesn't love rainbows? But what makes it beautiful is how all the different colours come together. I mean what's a rainbow without all the colours? Well, society is the same, but as we have seen with current events we are not beautiful yet. We have to come together and be more like a rainbow, in order to be beautiful. 

Jasmine: Why do you think it's important for the youth to get involved?

Arissa: As youth, I think we are sometimes seen as less or not worthy of having a say in critical decisions that affect our OWN lives. So, I think we need to stand up and teach people that no matter how old you are, what your background is, or any other personal factor, we all have the ability to help this world. 

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Arissa: My advice to young people, in general, is to just follow your heart and don't let anything/anyone including yourself tell you that you are not capable of making a difference. After my life-changing experience in India, I knew I discovered an immense passion, but I was extremely overwhelmed and really didn't know how I could tackle such a huge issue. When I look back I think I was doubting myself and was not confident in my abilities. But slowly as I overcame this doubt I realized that everyone has the power to change this world (despite how cliche this is). So, if you want to start speaking out, I say, START SPEAKING OUT. Use your voice. And most importantly believe, truly believe that you are valuable. 

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JAX RICHARDS

@jax.richards

he/him

TW: ab*se

Student Rights director Jasmine Lunia interviewed 19-year-old Jax Richards about the importance of youth activism, starting the organization Safeguard Youth, and organizing events centered on youth voice.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically? 

Jax: Not to sound bleak, but I was born in an incredibly impoverished single mother home and my father was, and still is, a meth-addict, career criminal, and abuser. I grew up facing a series of very difficult environments and I endured some experiences I don’t believe any child should ever have to go through. My activism for youth and, more specifically, survivors of childhood abuse, comes from that notion! I cannot express how unheard some kids feel and I believe it's my mission to make a platform that connects with them and allows them to feel heard by people who can make institutional differences.

Jasmine: Why are you passionate about student rights?

Jax: I believe Youth are often undermined by a lot of society. I've had dialogues with doctors, lawyers, police chiefs, policymakers and “experts” who think their education is the end all be all of the knowledge— So when they try and find solutions to problems like youth mental health, school shootings, and childhood abuse, they don’t bring student voices to the table. I don’t care how much education someone has, if they have never lived through an active shooter drill or been abused as a child, they don’t have the lived experience that’s a necessary perspective to solve the problem. I’m passionate because I think students have an incredible amount to offer but rarely are they given a voice to allow it to be heard.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism and/or student rights activism specifically?

Jax: In HS I got invited to engage in issues ranging from student mental health to youth homelessness to facilitating safe school environments and really enjoyed the change I made. So I kept going. When I got to college I initially wanted to get involved with big organizations, like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Amnesty International, both of which I worked for, however, I realized none of them properly address the issue that most impacted me. That’s when I started Safeguard Youth— a statewide, youth-led 501c3 nonprofit that works to amplify and unify youth voices in pursuit of a higher quality child welfare system. In addition to that. I’m currently majoring in public policy and economics, with a minor in communications, at the Oregon State Honors college so I can better understand and communicate student initiatives and policy.

Jasmine: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?​

Jax: I’ve organized a couple of events— Safeguard Youth was planning 3 or 4 events for April (National Child Abuse Awareness Month) however those got postponed because of COVID. Organizing events can be the hardest thing in the world if you don’t have a motivated and good support team. If you do, it shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle. A great team is a key difference between success and failure when it comes to events or larger plans.

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers?

Jax: Despite being subjected to abuse and neglect for over a decade, I never talked about it publicly until last year. Many people initially didn’t understand when I started talking about child abuse. Many people, especially from High School, saw me at college talking about my experiences as a survivor and cast doubt on me because I didn’t talk about it previously. Some people were very awkward about the conversation because they couldn’t relate to it in any capacity, coming from a stable two-parent household. Some people just blindly ignored what I was saying. However, many people, including state legislators, nonprofit directors, and other survivors, saw my impact and message genuine and necessary.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Jax: I’m gonna be honest, I don’t have all the answers about what we should be doing. Nor should I. Reforming child welfare and foster systems should be a national conversation. It should include social workers, doctors, lawyers, and policymakers but it should also include the very people the system impacts. I think the number one thing I’d say to policymakers is that this system addresses the most vulnerable demographic the country has to offer (Abused children). And it is significantly cheaper, more effective and humane to house them properly, treat their mental needs and provide the resources for support and recovery, then it is to cast them out and have them rely on unemployment or going to prison. That goes for the education system as well.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to get involved?

Jax: Youth is in such a unique position with an incredible perspective. Many youths have more time to get involved and make a difference, and they’re more connected than any other generation. Even in their parent’s generation, nobody could connect with people across the globe in a matter of seconds. There is power in communication and connection, but its what you do with that that matters. For my topic issue specifically, child abuse is the only issue I’ve encountered that everyone unanimously agrees childhood abuse is wrong and shouldn’t happen, but nearly nobody advocates for it. It's been deemed “politically correct” to not talk about childhood abuse or foster care because it’s an incredibly sensitive and unrelatable topic to many. In upper-class society, child abuse isn’t seen and therefore talked about, because, statistically speaking, we don’t make it that far.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Jax: I could say something about never losing sight of your passion but what I’m going to say maybe a little more controversial: Family is NOT by blood but by the bond. The idea of family conformity is so deeply rooted in many cultures, including American Nuclear Families, and it's a shit concept (excuse my language). Family is the people who support you and show up for what you believe in. Relatives who deliberately hurt you and oppose your passions ARE NOT family. Even as someone who was constantly abused and starved by his father, it took me a long time to grapple with the concept that he wasn’t my family. My family is my supportive mother and my incredible grandparents. But its also my adventurous friends, passionate activist peers, and my dogs (especially my dogs). Don’t let a relationship defined by blood define your passions.

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JASMINE LUNIA

@cosmic_athena

she/her

I talked to Student Rights Team Director and activist Jasmine Lunia about her foundation of SuSTEMability, organizing events, and the importance of youth voice and activism.

Shayna: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Jasmine: I began my journey in youth and student activism when I was about twelve years old, specifically using art to spark conversation through an art page I created on Instagram. After using my art as a form of activism for several years, my freshman year of high school I began to branch out into other forms of activism, mainly using social media, writing, and speaking to advocate against certain injustices. I became very interested in climate activism at this time, but realized that in my community youth voices were being overshadowed by adults who would tell us that our futures were less important than the economy. Thus, my journey into student rights’ activism began, as I wanted to lift up the important youth voices that weren’t being heard as much as they deserved. 

Shayna: Why are you an impassioned student rights advocate?

Jasmine: I irrevocably believe that young people are the future, and therefore must be listened to and heard. After all, many of us cannot even vote, yet are the people who will be most impacted by current political decisions. In addition, I believe that an education that takes into account students’ own learning styles, state of mind, and mental health is an absolute right for all students, yet many young people do not even have the right to go to school. This is something that I believe needs to be changed, and I want to use my voice to amplify the voices of those, both in the United States and elsewhere, who are not given the right to an adequate education.

Shayna: How have you gotten involved with youth activism and/or student rights activism specifically?

Jasmine: I have started an organization, SuSTEMability, dedicated to providing access to STEM education to the youth of all backgrounds as well as to amplify youth voices discussing STEM. In addition, I lead my local chapter of STEMteen, which likewise aims to provide quality STEM education and events to children of marginalized communities. Other than these initiatives, and of course, MKM, I spend my time advocating for student rights in more informal ways, such as speaking at climate marches and school events, writing about it on my social media platforms, and taking every opportunity in my daily life to ensure that students are getting the rights that they deserve. 

Shayna: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?​

Jasmine: I have helped organize activism events at my schools, such as our annual “Voices and Views” conference, where we hear from passionate community speakers and activists. The experience was amazing, as I got to hear wise words from and interact with activists coming from completely different backgrounds as mine. I also learned how to be organized and ensure an event runs smoothly and saw everything that goes on “behind the scenes” in terms of planning events. I have not yet organized community activism events, however, I would love to in the future and plan on helping to organize marches as well as presentations regarding different areas of student rights activism. 

Shayna: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers?

Jasmine: The response has been mainly positive, as I have met so many other amazing youth activists through my own activism, and together we have cultivated a community that centers around uplifting each other and educating others about our respective forms of activism. I have also gradually gained the respect of certain adults, and many have tried to help me with ensuring that our community is a welcoming space for young people to blossom as activists. There, have, however, been negative responses to the work that I’ve done. I’ve heard from adults and peers alike that what I’m doing “doesn’t matter,” or “will make no real impact,” and in these situations, I tend to combat hate with education and explain why I do what I do.

Shayna: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Jasmine: There are so many things society and lawmakers need to improve in their handling of, but one issue that is particularly urgent within the student rights field is education. There is a stark inequality within education-schools that get more funding are typically in locations that cater to more financially privileged families, whereas many schools located in low-income communities are underfunded, and many of these communities are made up primarily of people of color. Neither the income of a child’s family nor the color of their skin should determine the education they get. In addition, college admissions are incredibly unfair, as many colleges do not take into consideration the reasons for one’s stats, and therefore see a student with a 4.0 GPA who has access to tutoring and ample free time as intellectually superior to a student with a 3.0 GPA who is working full time along with completing schoolwork. This leads to unfair standards placed on many students. Also, many schools tend not to consider the mental health of their students. These issues show that our education system widely needs reform.

Shayna: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to get involved?

Jasmine: Simply put, this is OUR future! I believe it is so important for youth to get involved in activism because, at the end of the day, we and our children are the people that these actions are going to impact the most. Therefore, we should take our futures into our own hands. In addition, we currently cannot vote and therefore don’t necessarily have the systematic impact that older people are given, and it’s important that we try to make a change in other ways.

Shayna: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Jasmine: Never feel like you don’t belong in an activism space. This may sound obvious, but when I first started getting involved I felt intimidated by the fact that many of the people speaking up were adults, and many who weren’t adults seemed so much more accomplished and well-spoken than me. While it’s easy to get caught up in this, remember that you are working towards a common goal, and your voice matters! An important part of activism is having diverse voices to listen to, so don’t worry if you’re at an event and don’t fit the profile of a typical activist there. Make yourself heard!

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AVINASH SHOLEVAR

@avisholevar

He/Him

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 17-year-old Avinash Sholevar from the USA. They discussed his foundation and involvement with the International Youth Politics Forum and his passion for student rights related activism through the governmental perspective.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Avinash: That’s a great question. My path towards student activism has not been as direct as one might expect and involves a series of experiences that exposed me to several injustices and inequalities occurring around the world on a personal level. The first stepping stone on my path to activism was a medical Spanish immersion program I did in Ecuador, where I visited rural areas in a traveling clinic and did rotations with a pharmacist, a doctor, and a dentist. These areas had not seen patient care for over a year and desperately needed it.

 

The summer after 10th grade I decided to explore different avenues of countering injustice and inequality through summer programs, one of which was through the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where I attended a program focusing on human rights advocacy, and the other was through Yale University, where I had the opportunity to explore issues around the world through seminars and speeches from notable figures. Through these three experiences, I gained a better understanding of what was going on in the world around me not only in terms of these themes of injustice and inequality but also of what I could do about it. That is, as I found out, pretty much nothing through any official or meaningful channels. When I got back, I got involved with my local court system by sitting on a panel in the context of injustice and criminal law reform. Additionally, I began to volunteer with my local congressman.

 

However, this was not enough. I felt as if I needed to do better, and needed to not work from behind the scenes to make a change but to actively do something about it. The International Youth Politics Forum, better known as the IYPF, was the product of this urge. I reached out to kids from the Penn and Yale programs I attended and started the organization with the aim of not only telling the news but also educating other students and influencing current events. Instead of sitting behind a desk and making slow change because I am under the age of 18, I now have the opportunity to influence politics in a more direct manner.

Jasmine: Why are you an impassioned student rights advocate?

Avinash: My path towards student rights activism was, as I mentioned, non-linear. I felt as if I could not influence the world enough by sitting on a panel or behind a desk, so I became a student activist. I firmly believe that other students deserve the same opportunity to share their perspectives and opinions. Empowering other students is a way to make each other’s voices heard. As more of us stand together, we will become a larger voice in society. We are the future, and it's time we take control of the conversation not in spite of our age, but because of it.

Jasmine: How have you gotten involved with youth activism and/or student rights activism specifically?

Avinash: Through the founding of the International Youth Politics Forum, the co-founders of the organization and I have promoted other students and given them a platform from which they can voice their own opinions and control the conversation. I have gotten involved with youth activism and student rights activism largely through the government system.

 

On the court panel, several other students and I work towards criminal justice reform and have our voices heard in a place where it matters. Other students should seize every opportunity available to them to influence their community in a manner that will enhance the traditions and systems that we will come to inherit.

 

Once again, I believe that encouraging other members of the youth community to share their voices makes all kids’ voices stronger in the end.

Jasmine: Have you organized any events before? If so, what was that experience like?​

Avinash: The only event I have organized as an International Model United Nations conference through the International Youth Politics Forum. The reasoning behind this was twofold: Primarily, the conference was designed to encourage students to have an active role in making important decisions on current topics such as the Ukraine conflict, human trafficking, and more. The secondary reason we held this conference was for mental health purposes. During the pandemic, a lot of kids I knew were feeling the effects of social distancing and isolation, and our team believed that holding a conference would be a good way to encourage youth interaction in a constructive yet safe manner. Additionally, many youth conferences cost hundreds of dollars to organize. Our conference was open to everyone of all income levels since we did not charge an admissions fee. This was unique and opened the conference up to different perspectives that may not typically be present.

 

The experience itself was not only gratifying but powerful. Spearheading an effort to organize youth in order to empower them was a heady experience, and being able to interact and speak to various students about their backgrounds and hear their viewpoints was an experience I can only hope to replicate in the future.

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers?

Avinash: The response to our organization’s actions has been extremely positive. We are unique in that, within every article, we balance our arguments by providing parallel arguments for and against the issue, or analyzing different aspects of an issue. This “paper debate” system has truly allowed the IYPF to appeal not just to one side of the political spectrum, but to all variants. Additionally, as we seek to balance youth perspectives, we debate issues that are personal and interesting to members of the youth community. Thus, other students have genuinely enjoyed reading pieces on current events from their peers.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Avinash: Ad hominem attacks have recently penetrated the media and law making bodies. Attacking the personality of any one political figure instead of debating the issues at hand denigrates and deteriorates the political process. Ad hominem arguments stall political debate and create arguments between branches of government that are counterproductive. Society and lawmakers need to focus on the issues instead of berating each other. If they managed to do this, we would have a more effective and functional government.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important for the youth to get involved?

Avinash: Every young member of society not involved in the conversation on global issues hinders the rest of us. As I keep stressing, the more unified we are, and the more of us there are, the stronger a voice we will all have. The youth needs to empower themselves, and this is why it is essential for kids to get involved. The change we want to see will only come about if we get involved. Waiting for change to happen despite inaction is unreasonable. Sitting on the sidelines of the conversation is not the answer.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Avinash: Empowering yourself and speaking out is not hard. Find a platform, or make one. Reach out to other people. Standing alone in the world is not the answer; involving other people and gathering followers or joining a movement will allow you to become a more effective voice of reason rather than one singular person voicing his or her opinion. Furthermore, do not found something for the sake of founding something. If you are not passionate about an issue, you will not be effective in analyzing and debating it.

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MARIAH NORMAN

@mariah.norman

She/Her/Hers

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 17-year-old Mariah Norman from Mason, OH. They discussed about how she got involved with activism, her involvement with National School Walkout, and how the next generation can lead and be the face of social change.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Mariah: Thank you! I got involved with youth activism through my natural outspokenness and empathy for people. I’ve always been drawn to helping people and using my voice to advocate for those who may not know that they have one yet.

Jasmine: What got you so involved in student activism? Can you identify a specific catalyst?

Mariah: My specific catalyst that got me involved was definitely the National School Walkout back in 2017. I was only a freshman at the time but was thrust into the world of student activism when I found myself on a team with five other upperclassmen to organize an event for over 600 students advocating for gun control in my community. I was so inspired and honestly shocked at the magnitude of our reach, and it was the first time I realized that I can invoke real change in the world, even at only 14 years old.

Jasmine: What has it been like organizing events?

Mariah: Learning how to organize events has been one of the most stressful, yet rewarding experiences of my life. It’s taught me how to problem-solve, how to consider other perspectives, and how to work with a plethora of people to reach a final goal. No matter how many times I’ve wanted to quit after a major curveball, it’s always worth it in the end.

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers?

Mariah: There will always be people that don’t agree with your mission or even the way you go about doing it, but I’ve found it’s best to focus on the strength of the support that we do have. It fuels us and keeps us going as a community of activists and agents of change!

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Mariah: I think our society needs to do better with amplifying the voices and projects of student activists of color and other activists from underrepresented communities. It can become so easy to focus on the same group of teenagers as the face of the movement when it’s really important to also support minority voices. We need to focus on the intersectionality between diversity and these important social issues, not separating the two.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

Mariah: It’s so important to connect with other young people because it gives them a chance to discover a new passion or explore what they’re already passionate about, but with a platform to utilize. In this way, we empower the thoughts and feelings of our generation and prove how much our ideas really do matter. If we don’t like how something is done, who says we have to wait around for an adult to fix it?

Jasmine: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

Mariah: Currently, I just finished up a Service Worker Mutual Aid Fund that raised over $11,000 to financially support 93 service workers around the world and their families after finding themselves suddenly unemployed due to COVID-19 closures. Through this, we’ve built a community of kindness that proves just how interconnected we really are, and how important it is to lean on each other in times of need. It inspires me and gives me hope for a future of radical change within a broken system.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Mariah: My advice would be to not be afraid of fear, or failure, or ridicule. You will encounter each of these things more than once in your journey. The key is to not let it stop you from advocating and taking action on what you know is right in the world.

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INDUJA KUMAR

@indujakumar

She/Her/Hers

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 17-year-old Induja Kumar from Chandler, AZ. They discussed her involvement with MFOL and Youth Empower, organizing events, and an activiwst-related blog on Medium. 

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically? What has it been like organizing events?

Induja: I have been involved actively with the work being done by March For Our Lives and Youth Empower, the youth branch of the Women's March.

Jasmine: What got you so involved in student activism? Can you identify a specific catalyst?

Induja: I think that after 2016, I wanted to be part of the resistance of what I thought Donald Trump represented. But I did not realize that as a teenager I could play an active role in trying to change the problems we face until I saw what students in Parkland were doing with Gun Violence Prevention. 

Jasmine: What has it been like organizing events?

Induja: Organizing events is definitely hectic. A lot of the time, especially when organizing rallies, I end up having to clarify I am a student and not an adult. Creating the understanding that even as a young person I am able to have the authority and power and knowledge about a subject in order to organize around it is definitely an internal process for me. 

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers?

Induja: I think at first, especially from my parents it was negative/discouraging. But I was able to convince my parents and my friends, especially after receiving media attention from other organizations, it was much easier to convince my parents and my community that the work I was doing was important and valuable. 

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Induja: They need to listen to their constituents instead of lobbyists. 

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

Induja: The youth are a large and growing demographic. Activating and educating them is key to creating a progressive coalition and usher in an era of better advocates.

Jasmine: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

Induja: I am currently digitally organizing with March For Our Lives, and I am starting an activism and politics related blog on Medium. Link: https://medium.com/@indujakumar

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Induja: Seek out organizers with experience. They will teach you what the right way to approach changemaking is. Staying local is the best way to effect the most change. 

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ELLA YITZHAKI

@

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 17-year-old Ella Yitzhaki from San Fransisco, CA. They discussed the importance of youth and student activism and her work with ACA 4 in Congress. 

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically? What has it been like organizing events?

Ella: My introduction to activism wasn’t as linear as many would expect. My introduction to politics was in 5th grade as the 2012 presidential debates glared from my family’s TV. I didn’t understand what frankly any of it meant, but I was enamored. After endless questions to my mother about what the two men in front of me were talking about, I was invested in politics. 

When 2016 rolled around, my love for politics only increased. This time I wasn’t just watching the candidates argue the issues, I was forming my own opinions on them. I continued to watch the debates alongside my mom and debate the details of healthcare, immigration, etc until a lightbulb turned on. I realized that by 2020, I would be 18 by the general election. As a smile burst across my face, I soon learned my hamartia. My July birthday obviously allowed me to vote in the general, but the March primary was unclear. A part of me assumed that California, a progressive state that encourages everyone to be a part of the political process, would have already dealt with this issue of partial ineligibility, but another part of me recognized that this is a somewhat obscure issue. Much to my dismay, California did not let all those who are 18 by the general election to vote in the primary election.

I tried to quell my anger as I continued my last days of middle school which included a trip to D.C. Fortunately, our representative, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, found time in her busy schedule to meet with my class. My teacher, knowing my love of politics, asked me to be a representative of our class. Being in the middle of the 2016 election, I knew I would have to ask her something in regards to her opinions on the intense election. When the moment to ask her questions came following our photo-op, she answered in a polished, professional manner, but then she did the unthinkable: she turned the question of me. As all eyes in the room glared at me, I took a breath and began to explain my criticism and my compliments of each of the candidates. Much to my surprise, she responded by saying, “Wow, you seem to know a lot.” Her words filled me with newfound hope and optimism for myself and my future. With this newfound confidence, I knew I had to take on the issue that was frustrating me most: my voting ineligibility in the 2020 primary. 

Following the meeting with Pelosi, I transformed my passion into action. I helped form an advocacy committee, completed hours of research, made a commitment to meet with legislators whenever I could, and made sure to chat with my peers and my community about the issue. Through my work, I learned it is a nonpartisan issue with nearly half the country having laws in place that already deal with the exclusion of young people in the primaries even if they can vote in the general election. After nearly 4 years of phone calls with journalists, town halls after school, and endless dialogue with those around me about how they felt about the exclusion of young people from the primary, I was invited to testify before the State Assembly Elections Committee for a bill, known as ACA 4, that would allow all those who are eligible to vote in the general election to vote in the primary to be able to vote in the primary election. While preparing my remarks, I looked back on the debate of fifth grade, the meeting with Speaker Pelosi, and the fateful night this whole endeavor began. I was introduced as the youth’s perspective on the issue. Taking a moment, I looked around at a similarly tense room I had seen in that meeting with the Speaker, the key difference being that I was the change maker. ACA 4 passed out of the assembly committee! While this wasn’t a green light, it was a sign that people still cared about my “little eighth-grade project.” If the bill passes onward, it will make it onto California's 2020 ballot for the voters to decide. Although it will be too late for me to participate in my state’s primary, my work has helped unlock the political potential for hundreds of thousands of teenagers. In the end, my work won’t be over when teenagers have a new voting opportunity--my political work has only begun. 

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers? Did you find similarly minded activists who were also willing to take on important issues like student rights?

Ella: My peers and my global community has been incredibly supportive of not only ACA 4 but also my activism in general. Many folks are simply encouraged to see a young woman proudly sharing her political opinions. I didn’t find any other similar activists, but I found a body of my peers who were just as frustrated as I was. This propelled me to continue the endless town hall meetings, the long conversations with community leaders, etc.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better when it comes to youth and anything else?

Ella: Other than ACA 4, I think lawmakers and young people need to strengthen their patron-client network through a stronger dialogue between the two bodies. Specifically, though, I’d love to see more young people in our government. As much as I adore and respect many leaders within our national government, far too many of them are of older ages. I’d love to see a society in which it isn’t considered surprising to see a 30-year-old or even a 25-year-old run for public office. I think the more representation for young people, the better for they will understand the gravity of issues like climate change, student debt, and poorly- funded public education. 

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

Ella: In order to verify that any issue that you believe is important to young people actually is, you must create a strong dialogue with your peers about the issue you want to focus on. When I talked with young people, I learned how to deal with folks assuming that ACA 4 is merely lowering the voting age. I learned how to make sure I explain what we are working efficiently and effectively to those who are affected by it. Once my peers understood what I was focused on, many cheered me on as they began to realize their own exclusion from the system we are encouraged to be a part of. 

Jasmine: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

Ella: As a college student, I hope to continue to message of ACA 4 to other states that exclude those who can vote in the general election but cannot in the primary election. In fact, Cornell University is located in New York which is one of the 27 states that do not allow those who are eligible to vote by the general to automatically vote in the primary. My dream would be to use my time in New York to advocate for young people just as I’ve done in California. 

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Ella: I would refer them to one of my favorite Robert F Kennedy quotes, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve a lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

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ELIOT NEBOLSINE

@e.neb

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 17-year-old Eliot Nebolsine from Alexandria, VA. They discussed  Women’s March Youth, immigration reform, and volunteer work.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Eliot:  I started getting involved in activism when Trump was elected. I had lived my life in a trance and didn't even realize that people had different beliefs. I was in the bubble of my family, and of Northern Virginia, and had only seen those views. Then Donald Trump was elected. I came to school and cried. I had never cried at school. But I saw peers, teachers, people I saw as role models, celebrating over the election of someone I knew was going to ruin our country, and define my four years of high school. I did not want that to happen. I wanted my four years of high school to be defined by hanging with friends, doing well in sports, having new experiences, and learning new things. I refused to let these years of my life be defined by the negativity and tyranny of Donald Trump. So I didn’t. I decided to make a change.

        I attended the first 2 women's marches and was inspired by those who were speaking on the stages- that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the one leading change and leading effective activism. Prior to the 2018 March, Women’s March Youth advertised on their Instagram that they wanted to plan a pre-march event. I put down my email and thought nothing of it. Then, the previous youth leader reached out to me, and I was hooked. I loved feeling the effective change, and I loved being able to see my hard work benefiting others in a way that was tangible. From there, I knew I needed to do more- and that it had to be with the women's march. I reached out to them, learned how to start a chapter, and just ran from there.

Jasmine: What has it been like organizing events?

Eliot: Stressful, rewarding, amazing, confusing, though- there are really no words! Building up to any event is tough. You are putting in hours and hours of work, and you really don't see the results, until the event. That's the tough and stressful part. But the second that your event starts- you realize why you are doing this. During the fall, our chapter held a panel discussing youth activism and gun violence. We worked SO HARD on this, and it took so much planning and logistics, and the whole time we had the worry that people wouldn't come. BUT, we had more than 50 people come, we had 7 different speakers, and had such a powerful and moving discussion. The moments where I could see people's faces where they had a sudden realization of what change could be and the power of youth was so powerful. I think the other tricky part of organizing all of this, is the after. You just put in all of this work, and then it's over. You see such AMAZING results and feel worried you can't top it. For me, I feel stuck and not really sure what to do next. But, the incredible community I have built is always there to support me and help me find out what's next :)

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers?

Eliot: The response has been so positive and supportive. We would not have been able to make any change without the support of our community. Our school has been amazing in providing us with resources. Our community has provided us with speakers, and an incredible support system. Our peers have provided us with a drive. They are the reason we are trying to change things for the better.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better?

Eliot: There are so many things that I think need to be changed. I feel particularly passionate about immigration reform, gun control, women’s rights, and climate action. However, I think that all of these cannot be worked on or resolved without the youth voice. Lawmakers are continuing to just consult with people their age, and with that, we are stuck in the same place. When lawmakers consult with youth, you get absolute power and absolute action. Look at United Students against Sweatshops, the Flint water crisis, March for Our Lives, Black Lives Matter, and SO MUCH MORE. These are all movements that have triggered the change, and best of all, is backed by youth.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

Eliot: What most people (especially adults) fail to realize, is that youth is our future. We are the ones who will be affected by decisions now, and we are the ones who need to be working for change. Adults consistently are coddling young people, saying “I'll tell you more when you are older”, but when we are older is when we are making the decisions. Instead of trying to cover and shield our youth, we need to embrace the power that we have and bring youth into all of the places where decisions are being made. Ultimately, these are the people that will be running the country. We need to make sure that young people learn how to make effective change, and that they have an established passion for activism.

Jasmine: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

Eliot: With everything currently happening, we are more focused on unifying and making sure those close to us are safe. I have been volunteering online for the candidate I support in the 2020 election, doing some random online volunteer work where I can, but mostly I am trying to be there for those who need it.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Eliot: Do it. When I wanted to get started with activism, I really didn't know-how. There was no one who was telling me what to do, and I felt really discouraged in the fact that I just didn't know what to do. So, I started looking at Instagram and finding activism accounts. I would DM them, fill out forms to put my email in, google places to volunteer, use protest finders, and just consult with organizations within my school. Once I started, I realized that I really wanted to make an outlet for people to come to that was obviously for activism in my school. It can get hard, and there will be people saying “ you’re too young” or “ maybe you should let other people handle this”, ignore them. This is your future, and we are the ones who are going to be in charge soon. We are responsible for the direction this country goes in, and we need to make our voices heard now.

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TAYLOR WANG

@_taylorwang

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 16-year-old Taylor Wang from Seattle, WA. Taylor is also MKM's new Art Activism partnership! They discussed art activism and Student Art Spaces.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Taylor:  I think young people have so much power! We are the first generation that can rally for change on a global level, turn Instagram pages into social movements, and do things our ancestors thought impossible—all while studying for AP exams. As a queer Asian girl, I often wrestle with my identity. Youth activism has taught me to value myself not because of how I look or how I present myself, but what I can contribute to the issues I care about. 

Jasmine: I would like to talk to you more about your work with student activism regarding the arts. What got you so involved? Can you identify a specific catalyst?

Taylor: I’m an artist myself, and I have been since I was very young. Growing up in a Chinese American community, my unconventional passions for art and activism were not exactly supported. While family friends were off studying for medicine or computer science, I was entering art contests and exhibiting work. As I tried to gain exposure, I realized just how many galleries and publications required a hefty submission fee (upwards of $100), piled on with a plethora of other fees. Not only was the art industry restrictive toward teen artists from low-income backgrounds, but it was also taboo for artists of color to enter. I co-founded Student Art Spaces to combat these financial barriers, as well as uplift artists who may not be receiving that encouragement from their families and communities.

Jasmine: What has it been like organizing events?

Taylor: It’s been the best and most stressful experience I’ve ever had. From helping teens showcase their work for the first time to seeing older generations admire our youth galleries, I am endlessly grateful for the connections I’ve made through organizing these events. What blows my mind the most is the fact that this project is truly teen-led, in every sense of the word. About a year ago, my co-founder Alice and I were holed up in a Starbucks looking up what the IRS is. Now, we’re a nationwide network of volunteers and artists, with chapters in Dallas, NYC, LA, and more every day!

Jasmine: What was the response surrounding your effects from your community and your peers? Did you find similarly minded activists who were also willing to tackle such issues?

Taylor: After hosting our first gallery, we received tons of messages from other teens asking how they could get involved, or what they could do to start something like Student Art Spaces in their city. Overwhelmed with support, we got started brainstorming our second phase. Our team sat down, wrote a volunteer handbook and a chapter playbook, and distributed it to all the new faces. I was awestruck at the amount of people who wanted to uplift young artists—it felt like we were truly igniting a nationwide movement. Our Texas chapter, led by Frisco high schoolers Srin and Shreya, has already secured a space for their first equitable teen gallery!

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better at when it comes to students rights?

Taylor: Listen to the youth! We know more than you think. Instead of talking about us, talk TO us. Older generations often criticize young people for being social media obsessed or disrespectful towards authority, but these traits are actually the reason why our generation is so educated and active. We use social media to promote our causes to peers across the world. We don’t let our knowledge go to waste, but instead, we use it to fight for what we believe in—even if it means ruffling a few feathers.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

Taylor: It’s so important for young people to get their start in activism through other young people. When I was in 9th grade, my friend roped me into canvassing for a local political campaign. Later on, I joined an art equity council at a nearby museum, composed entirely of teens. Even though it was a completely new experience, I felt at ease both of those times because I felt like I could be treated as an equal. My ideas were not invalidated because I was too young or inexperienced. Instead, I could contribute to the conversation without fear of judgment or belittlement. The world of activism can be daunting at first, but it’s much easier to get involved when you’re surrounded by like-minded peers. 

Jasmine: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

Taylor: Many plans have been canceled lately due to COVID-19, and Student Art Spaces is not an exception. We’re not letting it keep us down though! In response to the growing anxiety surrounding our current circumstances, we’re hosting an open call for writing, art, and just about anything else that’ll fit inside an email for our first teen anthology publication: Art During a Pandemic. Visit https://www.studentartspaces.org/anthology to submit before April 11, 2020!

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

 

Taylor: Make the first move. If you are a young person who sees an issue in your community, and there hasn’t been anything done about it, do it. Google things, DM other activists for advice and go full force into it. You’ll need a team because you can’t do it alone, so gather your friends and don’t be scared to reach out to local influential leaders. 

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ARIANNA NASSIRI

@arianna.a.nassiri

MKM Student Rights Director Jasmine Lunia talked to 17-year-old Arianna Nassiri from San Francisco, CA. They discussed local politics, interactions with politicians, and Vote16.

Jasmine: When I was doing some research before reaching out to you, I was really impressed with all of your work! What got you involved in youth and student activism specifically?

Arianna:  Before my career began, I spent most of my free time involved in competitive athletics, primarily skiing, tennis, and dance. I began my political activity within the city community in eighth grade, when I interned in the office of London Breed, who was at that point the supervisor for my city district. Those months of insider experience in policy writing and community fortification really catalyzed what my role has developed into today. 

When experiencing the typical policy agenda of local politicians, I realized little attention was being paid on how representative policy was with who it would impact. With further investigation, it became clearer that young people were a large population that had no seat at the table when legislation is being penned. From then on, I’ve focused my work on making sure that youth issues were being considered when governing takes place.

Jasmine: I would like to talk to you more about your work with student activism regarding Vote16. What got you so involved? Can you identify a specific catalyst?
 

Arianna: As aforementioned, comparing the median age Of American voters with respect to the median age of the population makes clear that there is a discrepancy between the needs of the population and the manner in which it’s being represented in US elections. This represents a major crisis regarding the integrity of US democracy; given that, I decided to involve myself in fortifying the democratic principles outlined in the foundation of our country. It’s an issue that crosses party lines; it’s less an issue of what policy is being passed, but a question of whether election results can be considered legitimate if a large portion of adept and educated voters are being disenfranchised.

Jasmine: What has it been like organizing events to lower the voting age and get youth activists more involved in politics? 

Arianna: Discussion around lowering the voting age is surprisingly more difficult than I thought it would be entering these campaigns. Both young and older citizens have adopted the stigma around changing a system that has seemingly existed for centuries. However, I try to remind people of why the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 after war with Vietnam; government realized that drafting young adults and not allowing them to vote in elections was a breach in the rights of citizenship. It is obvious that currently, young people are a lot more involved and passionate around politics than they once were, so Incentive is not an issue when organizing youth related events. And in my opinion, debate around lowering the voting age is a lot more valuable than a discussion between people who agree; having that room for conversation and discussion regarding principles of American democracy and the political maturity of young people allows both myself and others involved in the conversation to greater realize the unmet needs of young people with regards to election results.

Jasmine: What do you think our society and our lawmakers in particular need to do better at when it comes to young people?

Arianna: I think American lawmakers need to at least consider the needs of young people in order to provide a level of legitimacy and representativeness to their legislation. it would be a lot more streamlined to lower the voting age and allow for young people to incorporate their needs into the general demand of the American population, but facilitating discussion at the policy writing table is a step in the right direction.

Jasmine: Why do you think it’s important to connect with other young people, even young people who previously were not activists when it comes to creating change?

Arianna: When it comes to American democracy, every individual is as equal a citizen and therefore deserves an equal level of consideration on the legislative level. By this logic, youth issues impact all young people, and it is critical to have as many voices to mobilize as possible. Even if you think that you are not interested in politics, I can guarantee that every subject based interest can eventually come down to political issues.

Jasmine: Are there any current activism projects you are working on that you would like to talk about, or plans for the future?

Arianna: I’m currently working on publishing a Research report on the nuances of American democracy and the need for reform of the American election system. I’m also currently involved with two political campaigns that are set to be on the November 2020 ballot in San Francisco. Project that I’ve just begun working on involves discussions with both members of generation Z and baby boomers around the current state of our global climate, and what steps every member of our communities can take to alleviate some of the impact that we are experiencing from global warming.

Jasmine: What advice would you give to other young people who want to speak out and change the world?

Arianna: I would tell any young person who seeks change to just remember that all reform starts with one catalyst. Greta Thunberg’s impact on globalization issues of climate change should serve as a testament to just how impactful one young persons voice can be.

© 2019 by Meddling Kids Movement