SAN FRANCISCO (March 19, 2012) — Three Minnesota youth leaders are implementing social action projects designed to help their community in particular and the planet in general.
Caitlyn Keo of the School of Environmental Studies in Eagan; Pajnucci Vue of Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul; and Mai Kou Xiong of Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul, presented their projects as part of the World Savvy program to educate and engage youth in community and world affairs, to learn, work and thrive as responsible global citizens in the 21st century.
These projects are fusing first-hand experiences in Bangladesh to the local Minnesota community and the United States. The students shared the knowledge they gained after participation in an innovative one-month immersion trip to Bangladesh to study climate change.
The students observe how regional actions could have a direct impact on global sustainability. Their action projects will empower their local communities to make a change in order to prevent further global destruction.
In December 2011, thirty youth leaders and five educators from across the United States earned the unique opportunity to experience how climate change is affecting the local environment and community in Bangladesh firsthand. The international trip was part of the American Youth Leadership Program, an initiative sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and global education nonprofit World Savvy.
The program is administered by World Savvy, a non-profit organization that educates and engages youth in community and global affairs. Program goals include fostering mutual understanding, respect, and civic engagement among young Americans and their Bangladeshi peers. World Savvy’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Dana Mortenson shared that “meeting individuals affected by climate change in Bangladesh illuminates the connections between issues, events and people, locally and globally, and promotes informed, positive action.”
While in Bangladesh, youth leaders and educators witnessed the devastation in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, and additionally, visited communities that lost farmland as a direct result of climate change. These and many other first-hand experiences provided youth leaders and educators with the understanding that our actions in the United States can have an impact halfway across the world.
Pajnucci Vue will be collaborating with California student Megumi Tso to build awareness about climate change and inspire others to take action. They are developing a t-shirt campaign called “Hidden Duniya,” which includes the Bangla word for “earth.” The money raised will be donated to an entrepreneur in the developing world by way of Kiva, a non-profit that facilitates global microloans.
Caitlyn Keo is collaborating with classmate Leah Norman to not only create awareness about climate refugees, but also to reach out to US legislators in order to give those refugees legal status. Their goal is to develop legal recognition of climate refugees in order for them to receive aid from international governments.
Additionally, they are participating in Lobbying Day at the Minnesota Capitol and plan to develop connections with local legislators. Finally, in order to make their project a success, they will be collaborating with organizations including the Will Stegar Foundation, YEA! MN, and the International Institute of Minnesota (Refugee Resettlement Agency).
Mai Kou is collaborating with classmate Shelby Hunter to turn their school into a green school. They aim to reduce paper usage, implement composting, and encourage the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products.