“Schools are closed…”
My eyes jolted open as the phone call from my school kept replaying in my head. Schools are closed…schools…closed…
Except this was the one morning I didn’t want this to happen. Anticipating only rain, I prepared myself to go to the Just Peace Summit as a Global Teen Leader. Run by the We Are Family Foundation, the summit honors ~30 teens making global social impact. For me, this came in the form of my passion for bridging the gender gap in STEM through my nonprofit ThinkSTEAM, which provides STEAM (STEM + the Arts) workshops for girls to encourage them to integrate their creativity with STEM.
I had been looking forward to the summit for a long time, and I wasn’t ready to give up because of a little bit of snow. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a little snow — it was big enough to have a name, and it was cancelling all forms of transportation. Drowning in nervousness, I paced around my house again and again trying to find a solution, but winter storm Riley was persistent.
Luckily, Annie Greene from the We Are Family Foundation team came to the rescue, immediately calling ground transportation at 7 AM to get me a taxi to the city right away before the snow stuck too much. I later learned that my area got snowed out so much that there was a widespread power outage, so my school was closed for 5 of the 6 school days that I was at the Summit. If it weren’t for the amazing We Are Family Foundation team, I wouldn’t have experienced what I felt was the best week of my life.
2018 Global Teen Leaders on the Final Day of the Summit
And this was just one instance of how well organized and planned out the Just Peace Summit was. Although several Global Teen Leaders came from around the world and had flights affected by the snow, all 32 Global Teen Leaders reached the Summit on the first day, just in time for the opening ceremony. It was this day that I was told that this was going to be an unforgettable week, that I hadn’t seen anything yet…
And just like I was told, it was undoubtedly an unforgettable week. With guest speakers who are the frontforce of our society today and hands on workshops on how I can make the most of my purpose in this world to catalyze global peace, I realized that I have the potential to stamp my footprint learned about the power of saying “I am” in place of phrases like “we are” or “you are” and how we are all a mosaic
Film inspired by International Women’s Day: A perfect way to have fun and convey a powerful message of voting for female candidates during elections!
Not only that, but I learned that it was okay to be silly while still trying to advocate for peace. Throughout the week, although I am usually pretty shy when it comes to dancing, I danced more than I ever danced before. I laughed to tears with the other Global Teen Leaders, all of whom I adore so much. I also learned to play the ukulele, which I thought was pretty cool.
One of my favorite parts of the week was definitely meeting my mentor. Ali Caplan and Jess Teutonico from We Are Family Foundation Team spends hours and hours matching up all Global Teen Leaders with the perfect mentors based on what we asked for to expand our projects. We get to work with our mentors for the entire year to expand our projects and effect the change we want in the world. I asked for a mentor from the STEM sector to help me expand ThinkSTEAM through gaining more partnerships and improving my marketing skills, and the mentor I was matched with is the perfect person to help me out! We spent some time going through our goals for the upcoming year and I am super excited to see how everything pans out.
At the end of the day, I am grateful. I am grateful that I got to have such an unforgettable experience. I am grateful for all my fellow Global Teen Leaders who are as passionate about achieving peace as I am. I am grateful for everyone in the cooking staff for making some pretty awesome food. I am grateful for all the guest speakers who inspired me to continue doing what I do. I am grateful for everyone in the We Are Family Foundation Staff and all the volunteers who made the Summit possible so that I was able to have one one of the best weeks of my life.