The Change I Want to Bring to the World
I believe our communities are collapsing under the weight of political polarization in the U.S. today. This is especially clear when people assume others’ political affiliations based on their responses to changes occurring around them.
Through journalism or narrative film, I would like to place myself in a position where I am able to question this kind of "dead heat" that has emerged in our society.
My ultimate goal is to restore a sense of community idealism in my country so I can help reconcile people who hold different political values to the point where they can uncover and share a common set of values.
How I’ve Been Involved in Changemaking So Far
The distinction between a common value and a common belief is very important to me. People can hold different beliefs because their news sources interpret data differently. What is dangerous, though, is when people refuse to engage with each other because they think they have fundamentally different values. I am studying film with a minor in journalism because I have found those media most successful in making people feel safe enough to explore each other's viewpoints.
In working for my college’s radio station (WERS), I have tried to bridge this divide. For an audio story about why climate science is distrusted, I interviewed an editor for an academic journal who explained that the peer-review process climate science goes through is identical to that of more widely trusted disciplines. I also interviewed the chair of the science committee in my state legislature on why he was hesitant to trust climate science. He said he saw all science as a human endeavor, which must be met with skepticism and interpreted by each individual affected by it.
The one thing they agreed on is that the situation is dangerous as is and both sides need to do more to understand each other.
What Drew Me to This Fellowship
Growing up, I was lucky enough to see the emotional growth possible in my peers and in myself when a few charismatic older children chose to invest their energy in a common community endeavor. These older children had the effortless ability to coax the shiest of young children into blossoming by nudging them supportively at some times and keeping a respectful distance at others. To someone who already has this skill, it is nothing worth mentioning, but to my young eyes, these older children seemed able to rewrite the world at a whim.
Most people I have met later in life do not believe the community I grew up in could be possible. I wish to prove to myself and to the world that my memory has not exaggerated the leadership of these older children. I am excited by the Mentora Youth Changemaker Fellowship’s emphasis on creating a change project for a target community. A problem I have seen in many groups seeking political change is the notion that people and their beliefs are static. I hope I can learn through this fellowship to build a mood of collaboration and exploration in addressing the issue I choose.