TEDxYouth: Changing Us to Change the World

November 20th was global TEDxYouth Day. All around the world conferences were being held to discuss what we can do as human beings to improve the world and the animals that inhabit it. This year, the feminism class and Ileana Jiménez, were invited to speak at the TEDxYouth conference at the Hewitt School. When I first heard that I had to speak in front of a crowd, I was terrified of the idea. I did not know what I would say. However, when I did present, I felt very welcomed. At one point in the day a student from the Hewitt School’s Action Team called me “inspiring.” It was an amazing experience to hear that as a young adult from another young adult.

The other young people presenting at TEDxYouth@Hewitt were, as Ileana would say, “rock stars.” I am blown away by the work they have done. Some of them have written books, started organizations, and moved people. They were extremely inspiring. Hearing Fiona Lowenstein’s story was powerful; seeing a fellow 17-year-old do so much made me wonder, what can I do? Later that day, we learned how we could do something. Many young people like Mega or Lo, have fused their art with their urge to make change. I am very confident that the young people at this conference will shake this earth for the better.

One of the speakers that ‘hit home’ for me was Arthur Levine. He spoke about changing the lives of underprivileged young people in the Bronx. If it were not for people like him, I wouldn’t be here. I am ever-grateful for the work that people like him have done. His issue is the most pressing for me since, I feel that everyone deserves and needs an education to function in life and be productive. I was one of the lucky ones that attended KIPP Academy in the Bronx and the name of the school says it all, “Knowledge is Power.” If underprivileged young people who are mostly Latino and African-American students do not receive an education then their “power” will be stripped away from them. Education is really our way out of poverty and a life of crime and violence. I would really like to live in a world where getting an education is not a difficult task and easily accessible, but if we have a group of people who haven’t graduated high school, it is more likely for their kids not to graduate either. We have to end this cycle to have a fully educated population.

I left the conference feeling powerful, as if I was shown “how to fish” instead of given “a fish.” I was given so many ideas on how to use my passion for activism with my personal life like art or my passion for language learning to change the world. The conference also furthered my understanding of activism in general. Many times when people think of activism, they think of marches and protests. I have learned that activism takes infinite amounts of forms and each is effective in their own way.

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