Junior State of America

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How can today's youth get involved and help initiate change in the world?

I am sixteen years old. It is 7AM here in Seattle, and I have not slept all night because I have been watching all of these TED videos. This is one of the most invigorating and inspiring websites I have ever had the fortune of stumbling upon.

As a young citizen, I am constantly trying to determine what role I want to play in my community, my country, and ultimately the world. The trouble is that I don't really know myself. I don't really know what I'm passionate about. I go back and forth between an inspired, i-can-do-anything mentality and a state of complete and utter despair because I have no idea what to do with myself.

TED videos remind me of my desire to initiate change. They encourage me to find what it is that I'm passionate about and to commit myself to the cause, yet it seems like they give us youth very few resources to experiment, discover, and participate in a way that has any significant effects.

What I'm seeking isn't vague, unhelpful (though well-intentioned) encouragement saying, "Don't give up! You can do it!"-type things. What are some specific ways I can get involved? (Ex: Names of some nonprofit organizations I can volunteer/intern at?)

*Edit: I know that, ultimately, I have to find out for myself what I'm passionate about. Perhaps I should be asking for you to share some of your experiences in which you discovered your passion(s).

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    Jan 5 2012: Hello Grace,
    I am over 80 and I am as enthusiastic and excited about the future as you are. It is after 4 am (W.A.) and I am working. There is no chance of me experiencing what you will, so I can only try to encourage all of you, and offer such wisdom as I have gained. There are some comments, etc. of mine on TED, Avazz ++
    The main trouble is, right now. all the people trying to sort out the mess, are almost all. rich, Elitist, tradition riddled and observably elderly. If you believe in freedom and equality, then you have to recognize that you are just as equal as anyone. You have exactly the same right to speak out as the most gifted orator. more in fact, you have to live the consequences longer.
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    Jan 16 2012: This is a great question and one of real importance as young people across the world find their voice and shout out against the status quo. Grace, you may not know yourself yet - you're only 17 after all, but you have the desire to get involved and that’s half the battle won already! I have some suggestions…

    If you have a family that talks to each other (!), raise local social, political or environmental issues with them and ask their opinion.

    Join a debating society - it will help you identify different opinions, formulate your own point of view and communicate with confidence. A highly valuable life skill.

    Visit your local library and ask to speak to the qualified librarian. Ask them for information about local or state trust funds that focus on youth aspirations. You will learn that Librarians know everything - it's like having your own PA for free - and, they're a real live person rather than a computer screen!

    Learn how to cook ten nutritionally balanced meals, from scratch, and learn about portion sizes. Swap junk food for real food. Get to know your local farmer’s market. Grow your own veg and herbs in your garden or in pots inside.

    Put something into action on a small, local scale…If there’s something your friends want provided in your community - formulate an action plan, gain wider support, and then petition your local council. This happened to me when a group of about 15 local kids and teens descended on my office to ask for a new skate park. It took a while (because of budgets) but we worked with them and they chose the equipment and design of the site.

    Have fun and don’t stress about it…your opinions will change in time and with age and experience.
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    Jan 14 2012: Go for it, Grace!
    1. Immerse yourself in TED talks (1,000) & TEDx talks (10,000 so far) and find ways to bring solutions to teens attention. Watch them also with the sound off, to learn how they communicate effectively.
    2. Link with changemaking youth orgs: Ashoka, enviro's, UN, Rotary, find the thing that matters to you. Find the best group that is doing something about it & offer to start a youth advisory council, if they do not already have one.
    3. Master a form of expression that brings you joy & then use it to make the world more as you want it to be in the arena that you see could be changed.
    4. Enter competitions which will give you greater access to experts, platforms to express yourself, & impact on policy makers.
    5. Find your spiritual center. If you are going to step up to be a leader in a world of dramatic disruption, you will need to act from a deep sense of personal grounding.
    6. Fill a need. Excellently. This will likely return to you resources which you then can invest in changing more of the world you see needs to be shifted. Learn through by being a social entrepreneur.
    7. Practice daily compassion. Learn to listen to the other, as they will be the ones you will need to influence. Use your young voice wisely. Find big stages to speak up on. If you listen carefully, you will learn how compel others to see the world you imagine.
    8. Laugh-a lot. When you are happy, others will follow. This magnetic attraction brings help. You will need lots of help if you are really going to change the world. Why not have fun while doing your daily deeds of difference making?
    9. Honor your elders. Parents are your biggest advocates. Respect is your key to the kingdom. Find the elders who have dedicated their lives to whatever field you find fascinating.
    10. OJT: on the job training. Organize your own TEDxYouth event. Find a team. Set a stage. Gather your tribe. Speak out. Video it. Post it. You are changing your world.
    Welcome to being a changemaker, fellow TEDxer!
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      Jan 14 2012: I would have to say you are earning your 1000 + Ted credits just by being the first responder to this post, I wonder is there a best ? question of the week/ month or some such that could be sent in full to TED members separate from the notification and links ? If not could something like that be established and say be open to posters under 18? as a prize they could send 1 email to TED and have the people in TED try to deliver the message to the adressee and receive a personal reply?
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        Jan 15 2012: The closest thing existing now is most active. There is no distinction within the TED community for age. They tackled last year though restricting attendees to 18 years old at TED. Youth will surely be a topic of conversation among TEDx organizers this year. Stay tuned.

        Can you fill in the details for your idea, Russell?
  • Jan 4 2012: Hi, do not get pregnant, do not live off the government, do not listen to your peers. Your passion, should be, to save the world! ( kidding ) Your passion should be, continue to be an intelligent human. :)
    • Jan 5 2012: I will try my best to be a responsible, informed, and self-sustaining citizen. ;D
      • Jan 5 2012: Yea! :) Do not live off the government. ( You are pretty cool! ) Impressive! :)
  • Jan 16 2012: Grace, I admire your thinking and A-type personality and all your worries for the matters in the world.

    As Mother Teresa said: "Not every one can do Great things, but every one can do little things with great love"

    If I say, encourage your generation to stop watching MTV, I might sound a bit old-fashioned.
    but where do we get the needed information to become inspired and act on our thoughts/ideas?
    Start from there. Take your first step in faith.

    I personally think, that we should better start from education.
    Financial Education, Sex Education, Drug Education ... Things that makes our society sick and hungry.

    School trains us to be good boys and girls, work hard and pay taxes... It makes us doing constantly the same things over and over again, but expect different results... Times changes but Education System stayed the same only adopted some technology to make the work easy.

    Watch this, You might get the idea what I am talking about.


    bad sound, but I hope you will get the message
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    Jan 15 2012: I might just get this one. Your role in life as a sixteen year old is to simply be a happy sixteen your old. Do what sixteen year olds' do, establish friendships, go to partys, and be open to learning everything or aspects there of.

    Life ahead is unimaginable, amazing, unpredictable and also scary at times. It is your job to hold onto peace of mind and to know that what ever takes away your peace of mind is distracting you from the real path in life you are called to follow.

    So relax, and don't take life too seriously, and the real life you are being called to know will simply unfold.

    New Zealand
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    Jan 11 2012: Hi Grace
    I think you can follow your own footsteps. How did you arrive at this mental and emotional state of heightened motivation? TED. Your goal is to use TED to motivate others in your community to become aware of TED.
    So study TED and determine which areas are relevant to your personal situation. I was amazed by the story of a boy you built his own windmill. (William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind.) But building your own windmill is probably not relevant to a young woman in Bellevue, WA. is it? So what is relevant? What TED presentations would make a difference to your community? Find them and find a way to share them with others. Become a TED video librarian, a TED expert.
    Is there an opportunity at your school to organize a club in which you can watch and discuss TED videos? Perhaps you have a social studies class with a teacher willing to allow extra credit presentations using TED.
    This is something that you can do. You can determine what is relevant. You can organize a club in which you share what is relevant. You can make a real contribution to your peers and your community.
    Maybe someday you can share your achievements as a TED promoter and advocate and become a speaker at a TED event yourself. "How TED made a difference for..."
    Get yourself organized. Don't quit when ides don't just pop into your head very easily. Talk to others about what you want to do. Get help. Work hard. Make something wonderful happen.
    • Jan 12 2012: This is a really great idea. I've already started sharing the TED videos with friends and classmates. I will look into sharing it with teachers too! Maybe they will be inspired to show their classes. Thanks a bunch, Jon.
  • Jan 7 2012: Grace, when I was 16 I was bulllied and had few friends. I came from a very dysfunctional home. I am now 59. I believe that if you want to do something to help, you can start right now in your school and amongst your friends. Speak out against bullying and harassment, befriend a person who is being bullied, not because it will look good, but because you want to be that persons friend. When my middle son was in elementary school he became involved in a "circle of friends" befriending a developmentaly challenged child, with a couple of his peers, they stayed together all the way through high school. You might want to consider that idea. Volunteer at a Shelter for Abused Women, your local homeless shelter where they provide food, at your local food bank. As David Pellecer has stated, don't wait to find something to work with, if you have to, be a leader. If you have done all of that, then sit down and draw a line down the middle of the page, with the names of a place you have volunteered at the top and write the pros and cons for each. Do this with every place you have volunteered at, this might help you to narrow the field down somewhat. Also, do not forget about having fun and smelling the roses along the way. To be a whole person you need to be in touch with the playful, as well as the intellect and spiritual. The fact that you have asked this question is a great start. I haven't often come across young people with this attitude, I am so glad that you have shown me differently. May you be blessed in your continued growth. Sincerely. Kathleen, Never stop seeking.
    • Jan 12 2012: Yes, I'm thinking about working with a local teen suicide prevention organization! It seems very rewarding :)

      Thank you! I won't.
    • Jan 13 2012: YEA! :)
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    Jan 6 2012: Hey Grace,

    I love encountering people like you. I was just like you at 16 (okay, so that wasn't that long ago.. I'm 22 currently), and I was bored out of my mind with pure academics and sports. I needed somewhere to put forth my energy and inspiration. By pure chance, I was invited to become a youth board member on my county's American Red Cross, and since then, I have moved to the national sphere. I'm currently on the executive board of the American Red Cross National Youth Council, advising the national movement about how to involve youth, how to inspire youth to seek leadership positions within the organization, and developing initiatives that youth can take part in and help build. I became involved with this organization by chance, and I couldn't tell you (some 6 years ago, now), why I loved the Red Cross so much. Now, having experienced every realm of the organization, I have found the answer to that often-asked question of "why?". I love the Red Cross because of their dedication to youth involvement, and their belief that youth can truly make a difference at the local, regional and national level. The amount of respect that they give to their youth volunteers is unmatched, and I am proud to be part of such a dynamic, though historical, organization.

    This is not an advertisement for the Red Cross; rather, it is my own story. I happened upon this organization by chance some 6 years ago, and grew to love it. I have grown as a person in more ways than I can explain, and my leadership and public speaking skills have been honed by my time as a volunteer and youth adviser. So, put your feelers out and take every opportunity as it comes at you -- and I guarantee, if you dedicate yourself to something that you love, you will receive more satisfaction than I can possible convey and, in the end, you will make a change.
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      Jan 11 2012: Your story is great. Not so many people soonly find out what they love in life. Good point to remember.
    • Jan 12 2012: Red Cross - what a great organization. I have friends that do search-and-rescue missions with Red Cross! I have heard nothing but great things about the work environment there - I'll be sure to look into what local opportunities there are for me. Thanks for your story
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        Jan 14 2012: I should take this moment to ask you to look at the P.E.G.C. website. Its a great and noble cause that needs help. Hopefully the mystery twill draw you to it.
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    Jan 8 2012: The question is a relevant one, in resume it comes to how and where to serve?
    I believe that change has started to be the moment you started feeling that need to participate. As everyone has his own sensibility and hopes, the first step for me would be to go through a brainstorming and line up all the point that you find relevant in the life around you: what is disturbing you emotionally in your own life, in your neighborhood, in your society, in your country or around the world? Anything that might come to your mind will surely find its solution too.
    You should continue your search patiently until your heart is touched by something that means a lot to you. Keep the search and at each step, you will see answers unveilling to you as magic. You'll be able to take certain actions and you might not feel the power to sort out or reach other situations. But you should always keep in mind that the most important is "DOING YOUR BEST".
    A wise man said to his son: " Be a good and charitable person. If you have money power, use it to end pain around you and give hope; if you have no money, then use your hands and time to secure others; if you have no harm nor the required time, then give a compassionate smile as you go accross those who suffer; if that is not possible, then make a good wish that will help end their pain."
    • Jan 12 2012: Great advice, thank you so much. I will take it to heart :)
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    Jan 8 2012: As young generation you have a lot of chance to develop,increase your capability,trying something new. Sometime youth voice really important to change future generation. As we know its a bit hard young generation to realize they have important role on the society.

    Development technology changing a lot and its influenced youth generation, sometime technology can affect become positive way but sometime it can be negative way, so we should filtering which is good and bad things should we choose. I grateful know you like joined TEDX, Its great site i ever visited too, we can found postive aspect which is can change our point of view and see problem from every perspective its tool to changing opinion and transfer knowledge.

    Probably you also can joined some club which is you have passion on it, just explore yourself because if oneday when we getting old we never regret spend our teenage on the positive way. I always support young generation to develop. As senior in university i always make coaching new students to develop their skilled i love to help them because its my duty to shared my knowledge with them.

    Dont think how is hard it would be just take your action because you never know what would be happened on the next future, what was you do today will influenced with your next step..

    best regards
  • Jan 8 2012: Hi Grace! Example and a specific way. Volunteer at a shelter for abused children. They need an enlightened human! You will smile at these kids! You will listen to these kids. It is tough, it is worth it! The best part., they will respond to YOU! ( try it ) As for the, personal experience, you can understand. :) Impressive, young human!
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    Jan 5 2012: Hi Grace, I know exactly how you feel right now. First of all, I have to say to you, that you are a great person, not many people of our ages think like you. I think that even when I’m not responsible of all the problems that are out there in the world, I have the decision of taking actions so I can change this reality that is so full of sadness and pain.

    Grace if you don’t find any opportunities or invitations to participate with a group of people that think like you, DON’T WAIT!! You can be a leader; you can create a place for you in society where creative people gather and take actions by themselves.

    This year I’m planning to start a movement in my school. I’m going to take the risk and go for it. Everyone is asking the same question, what to do? I don’t think that this is the priority, a most important question is, who is going to do it?

    Grace I really think that you can be a leader. You want extraordinary things to happen?
    For these things to happen, it needs an extraordinary group of people, and you decide being one of them!

    Grace another thing, read this book, “Seven habits of highly effective people”, is going to help you to accomplish all the goals that you have. And Grace, if you need something else, or just talk with some one, you can count on me, ok? Take care.
    • Jan 6 2012: Thanks David! It's nice hearing from another youth, especially from other countries! I love how TED connects people from all over the world.

      That sounds very exciting. However, I do think that your classmates have a point; You can't really accomplish anything if you don't have a specific, realistic goal that you're passionate about. But you're right; you can't accomplish anything if you don't have a committed and innovative group of people to do it!

      I do have a version of that book for teens, but have yet to dive into it.

      Thanks again for all the encouragement and support. Keep me informed on your school movement thing - it sounds really interesting!
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        Jan 6 2012: Just a tip; Leaders will take you where he or she wants to go. A Guide will show you where you want to go. Which do you seek?
        • Jan 6 2012: Guidance
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          Jan 8 2012: I will seek a teacher. He will give me the rudiments necessary in my search to know who I am really and to BE, and the best teach is Life itself, in resumé: Expérience.
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    Jan 5 2012: Several of your responses aren't very helpful. To find what you are passionate about you have to try everything. Volunteer at the animal shelter, the nursing home, or the local food bank. If you want to make a difference in the future you can educate yourself. If the idea of going to college and getting bogged down in debt is not appealing to you research the UN programs...or there was an article in Fast Company recently about a company that finds 19 people under 19 with the brains to succeed, but no desire to go to college. He takes these people and helps them on the path to success and an education. In Seattle there should be politcal campaign offices if that appeals to you. The occupy movement is strong there, but the thing about the occupy movement is the lack of definition. Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to be the person to stand up and say this is what needs to be done. Months ago there was an online vote to define the movement and really aside from getting TV coverage no changes have been made. Put yourself in positive situations to achieve a positive result. Red Cross, Nursing homes, hospitals, SPCA, UN, Political campaigns, interships
    • Jan 6 2012: So far, I've worked at youth summer camps, animal adoption programs, homeless shelters, my school newspaper, leadership councils, political debate clubs, etc, etc. Trouble is, I seem to like everything, which is both lucky and a curse haha. Red Cross and Peace Corps both seem very hands-on and rewarding, but since I do have a lot of schoolwork and whatnot nowadays in preparation for college, I don't know if I can do something that intensive. Maybe I will find a way to make time in the summer.

      I value education very much and intending on attending at least undergraduate school for four years.

      Yeah, the occupy movement hasn't seemed to be accomplishing much, despite the publicity it's gotten.

      I'm very interested in the idea of volunteering with the UN.
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    Jan 5 2012: Well, the fact that you have even recognised that you have to pursue your dream is in tself a great step. It will come soon to you what you have a passion for and when it does, you will realize that the work is just about to begin. Perhaps i can share some of my experiences...
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    Jan 5 2012: Start thinking a lot about what you love to do... you may take an year or two or say three... but the day you will end up locking your passion, start thinking about how can you integrate your passion for the benefit of mankind.. you will surely find your way! We all are glad that you have started thinking about it at this tender age, In terms of experience.. just one advise at the moment; don't get dragged by charm of life people living near by you, just stick to your thought and stay focused.
    • Jan 6 2012: Thank you for the wonderful advice and encouragement. I've been having trouble choosing between what I like and what is practical - when people my age have earning loads of money as a top priority, it's completely understandable but makes me a little bit sad inside.
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    Jan 5 2012: whatever you do will help.
  • Jan 3 2012: I like to cultivate a culture amongst my friends whereby we discuss global events, and make plans to recycle, grow community gardens, and volunteer together. The culture you builds with your friends will extend and grow into the larger society.

    You must be really excited to start voting!

    You can always start a club at school. I started a UNICEF Club on campus when I was in University. Otherwise, you can suggest new initiatives in your own school.

    Take care!

    Peace :D
    • Jan 5 2012: Andrew-

      Interesting idea with the culture initiation thing. Thanks!

      Yes, yes I am excited.

      There are already a lot of clubs at my school, but none of them really accomplish much. I have been getting much more involved in volunteering with nonprofits though, as well as my city's youth council and action teams.

      I'm also considering traveling with the People to People Ambassador program, as I have been invited to do so for the past three summers, but my parents are afraid that it's a scam/ripoff. Does anybody know about that program?

      Thanks for replying!
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    Jan 17 2012: grace be in touch russ_lester@yahoo.com as a fellow washingtonian I want to keep in touch with active posters from our state.
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    Jan 17 2012: Wow, Grace! After reading your prompt I believe you do know yourself more that the majority of the 17 year-olds around!

    At a recent talk, TEDx speaker Brene Brown (also TED 2012 speaker) portrayed a critically ill profile of our current society, but she concluded that there was hope for a change. And it was not going to be in the form of a sweeping storm, it would take setting up small campfires of strength, innovation, good will, authenticity, and resilience.

    I second Heather White below, light up your own small fire, surround yourself with people like you, and persevere.

    Participate as much as possible, soon the one mission that will drive your life will become evident.

    Start with one close by, take up your own.
    You don't need to change the whole world right now, just start and let it change you a little too. It all needs time...
  • Jan 16 2012: Hi Grace,

    I am seventeen years old, and I am in a very similar situation right now. I'm finishing highschool this year and I have to decide what I want to study at college. When I started to think what I want to do in my life I realized that I want to do something that makes the world better. So I looked for a career that can give me what I wanted. But then, I understood that there is not such career and waht's more, I didn't need something lke that. I think that I just need to learn more about people and I will do so being with people. So I decided to start doing things for other people, like helping younger students with maths, geography and hystory, for example. And I've learned a lot of things with them and I think they have learned too. So that's the piece of advice I can give you: Help other people with something you're good, and you will learn lots of things that will inspire you to do more and more other things that will make the world better.

    I hope this helped a little.
  • Jan 16 2012: wow!! i seriously l love this conversation and i must admit, i really admire your desire Grace. i think what you are experiencing now is a phase everyone gets to in our lifetime...and i really have been there. when u really want to do something to change the world, especially when u are a youth. i think the baton is now in our hands...our leaders and our parents are doing their best for us. but sincerely, they are also looking up to us...what will we do when we get to where they are now? can we accomplish greater achievements than their generations?? or we will just be satisfied with our petty accomplishments and with what our leaders and the older generations have accomplished?? will there be greater scientists, greater inventors, more transformational and proactive leaders in our generation than theirs?

    the desire to change your community, your nation and the world...is a legitimate desire which when rightly fed will lead to various and great accomplishments! but what i can advise is, first, let us lead ourselves, before we can create that change we want.
    by leading ourselves, we are improving ourselves, being the best we can in our homes, schools, wherever we find ourselves and in whatever we find ourselves doing. follow hard after excellence in all you do.
    and one very important factor, is not leaving the God-factor out! knowing and trusting God to lead us to accomplish His plan for our lives which is our innermost desires.

    Grace, i hope this helped.
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    Jan 15 2012: Hey Grace,

    I am sixteen, still fighting to figure out what I truly believe in, but I am still reminded at every time I am down, of my favorite Spanish song, probably from Mexico, 'Hay no que llorrar, por que la vida es un carnaval" and then it pretty much goes on to say, we have to go on life singing. I still sometimes face some weird things, and I know what I am passionate about, education for everyone and letting the truth out about mental illness.
    Where I live, most of the time language and culture matters, but the one thing that is constantly hidden behind closed windows, and blank eyes is this, mental illness. People forget that everyone is different and at times we break down, and when you break down so bad you need to get help. Though when you do, there is a chance you might get ridiculed and treated differently for it, but I didn't care. I told all my friends I had a mental illness, and hoped that they would treat me the same.
    I am a youth, but I am still learning, and hopefully, teens and kids can show that we can make an impact.
    I am sixteen, looking at the impossible and hoping I can reach it, I have fun doing the things I do, friends and family matter to me, but still I am passionate about education and the truth behind mental illness.
    So follow what you believe to be right and let that guide you.

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    Jan 15 2012: Hi Grace,

    I am a 21 yr old boy, studying engineering. Even I want to do something of that sort, because personally I believe that we youth have the potential. For days I wondered about the right way. I am presently studying, so generally anyone elder around asks me to focus upon studies. I know that they are not wrong because that should be my first priority.
    That's why for many days i kept waiting for the right time to come. I kept thinking that once I start earning and be off my studies then I would look towards such things. I expected then, to find some organisation to like some NGO. In effect I was just putting everything in terms of money. Like the only solution to this problem was the availability of money.
    One fine day i realised that then I may have money but I will have more responsibilities too. Now, even if i don't have money I have an important resource that's time. So I just started looking around myself for things that need to be improved. Or the the things that are lacking presently. I am studying engineering, and we have different entrance exams to opt for courses of post graduation. This is the world of technology. i realised that there is one exam that doesn't have any sort resource for the students. In college we used to complain that we don't have proper guidance for this exam. The college doesn't support us. But what am I doing for it? nothing. So I thought of creating database of questions that can be used by my juniors to prepare for this exam. Its actually a tedious job since it requires feeding of lots of data. I then put up this idea in front of few friends who liked this idea but were reluctant. I convinced them for it. Now we have a small group that has started the work and are slowly moving in the right direction.
    We intend to give this software to our college for free. This requires no monetary investment. Just our time which we were previously wasting. so i suggest look around you n u will find ur inspiration.
  • Jan 15 2012: Grace - please listen to your intuition and go in that direction. i think the most successful women I know have done that.
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    Jan 15 2012: Yes,

    I propose that a randomly selected jury of five TED members with at least 5 TED CREDITS for each week be

    given a weeks postings by contributors under 18 years in age. These postings separated into 5 lists of links

    would go one to each member of the jury.obviously this would be after the week had passed,

    the time spent reviewing the huge number of posts would be limited to 5 days

    On the sixth day this Jury would select there favorite contribution (one each) then each would rank the list of

    contributions from 5 to 1 with 5 being the best. The results could be sent to two(2) volunteer members who have

    50 or more TED Credits These volunteers would be placed in rotation each pair serving 6 weeks. They're votes

    would finalize the results resolving ties and splits by the casting of there ranked votes. The winners idea would

    be posted in a thread titled best of the week ,and along with the original post a message asking the contributor to

    send an email with a question that they would like to ask if they could choose anyone who is on the TED site to

    answer. The question and the members reply would be posted similarly,

    An email and a snail mail paper copy of the reply would be sent as to the weeks winner. Bells and whistles

    would be at the responding parties discretion, hand signed? a photo? whatever.

    TED might choose to include some sort of standard package as well. Being new

    here I don't know how TED as a corporate body chooses its course of action, but I know that somewhere

    policies like the rules are worked out and its in that direction I hope this is kicked.

    I am recalling the movie "October Sky" the young star was about

    space flight and rockets and how meeting Werner Von Bran was his dream, and the ironic scene where he

    meets but does not have a chance to recognize or ask him anything. I have a motto that might be apt for

    encouraging young TED posters.

    Never to old to learn, never to young to teach

    Russ Lester.
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    Jan 14 2012: I would like to pass on a saying, it might fall into platitude category sorry:

    "Never to old to learn, never to young to teach."
  • Jan 14 2012: Grace - Your question about what you are most passionate can be answered. I work with young people who are trying to decide what life path to choose and the one thing that is key to making this decision is knowing about yourself so that you can make a decision based on the best information - The first thing I tell young people like you is to sit down and make a list of the 5 things you love to do more than anything else i.e "I could spend all day reading about _____________(fill in the blank), I love to write, I love to work in the yard with plants, I love to sew and design clothes, I love to work puzzles, I love to cook, I love to build things with my hands, etc. WHen you can identify the five things you love to do the most then you can begin to ask yourself - How could I make a living doing that or how could I help other people with my gifts or talents - We all look for the BIG answer but sometimes that answer is a little thing that you love to do and do well now. Maybe your next door neighbor is a single mother and you love children - volunteer to let her have an afternoon to herself once a month. IF you see an older person struggling to get their groceries in the car - go help them. Smile at someone who looks sad - start small and then you can begin to build.

    Use Ted to find people who are doing what you would like to do and find out how they did it. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Curiousity is the greatest tool we have. Use websites like http://sixthousand.blogspot.com/ to find out more about someone who maybe is just like you. READ - the library is the best hidden resource that you can have. Spend Saturday there just looking - Read - read - read - Remember "Those who read - Lead." Try these on

    * The Google Story
    * The Art of the Start
    * ReWork
    * The Inmates are Running the Asylum
    * Book Yourself Solid
    * Four Steps to the Epiphany
    * Made to Stick
    * 22 Laws of Positioning
    * 22 Laws of Branding
    * Firms of Endearment
    Good Luck
  • Jan 14 2012: Welcome Grace, you're alive and on earth. It's time you find out why you're here.

    I am pleased to say that you are on the right track. Meeting people and getting to know what they're about will help you know what you are about.

    I was about nineteen (19) when I started to feel my way to my callings. I can clearly remember. I started out admiring the things I liked. Then I met people who liked the same. Then we formed a group to protect and share the thing we liked. Then somehow it became more than about the things we liked.

    They were there for me.
    Then that must mean that I was there for them.

    I am even more pleased to say that finding your passion can happen much earlier than when I did mine.
    Also, if your not an atheist, I'd recommend you join a (good and true) religious org.
    Religious orgs can also double as Teen Suicide Prevention orgs you know.

    I turn twenty (20) in a few months. :D
    Don't worry, we're all in this together.
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    Jan 12 2012: Grace - compliment for not wanting all the typical grown-up encouragement phrases. I try not to give them to my children, but sometimes I am afraid I still do so....

    Here is the engagement and participation which I have worked with in the last two years: streetart turning from a hobby to a national success and show. And still all the students are interested in having fun and doing what they want. if they start earning money or making people happy - or even both... take it as a greatful gift on top of finding yourself.

    Now this sounds almost like phrases... ? I better stop now. I hope you enjoy the exampel / video: http://bit.ly/zxNebr
  • Jan 12 2012: Thank you for the advice Grace!, now i know i'm not the only one, and i wish you the best with your studies :)
  • Jan 11 2012: i feel exactly the same way, i am a 14 y/o boy, living in the UK (unfortunately). i also do find it very difficult to be creative and feel as if thought, the schools are actually killing our creativity, and training us instead of teaching us, i still have no idea what to do with my life, one day i'm interested in medicine the other, finance.

    My advice to you would be to, just carry on watching motivational videos on the internet, or buy some books which would make you think very deep. Also, i recommend watching a talk on TED, Richard St John, on success and others might be nick vujicic who is a very inspiring and motivational speaker.

    i hope this helped.
    • Jan 12 2012: Zohaib,

      It's nice to hear from someone who's in the same boat as me! In general, as long as you keep up with your grades and continue taking classes and participating in activities that interest you, you should end up fine :) Work hard, play hard.

      Thanks for the words of advice!
  • Jan 11 2012: World needs person with yours conciense, and I think that young people will improve mentality. Althought; sometimes, they don´t comunicate a lot because they are afraid.In my opinion, the childrens education is the most important at the society. So, I think too that mothers can change the world.
  • Jan 11 2012: There are a few ways that really spark the light of enthusiasm in the youth (13-18) and young adults (18+). One of them is to make them feel as though the community wants or needs them, make them feel like they are making a differnce. When the feeling of "Wow, I'm actually doing something for others." Hits a younger person there isn't a lot of things in the world that can snuff the flame that keeps them going. For me being a youth in the U.S. (17) working with a wildlife center that takes in sick, injured, and orphaned animals is one of the most uplifting and glorious experiences I have ever felt. Seeing in Arizona that many children and young adults didn't know much about wildlife disturbed me, so I decided to take this role further and go from school to school making education programs that involve much of Arizona's wildlife. To hear from schools that I have presented at that the students will still quote my speeches and reference me months after my presentation just makes me want to try harder and create more expereinces that broaden the horizens of the youth today.
    • Jan 12 2012: Thank you for your story - education is where it all starts, yeah?
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    Jan 11 2012: Bring TED into your daily life.

    Watch 1 video in the morning, think about idea behind it and come up with the result we got by the end of day.
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    Jan 10 2012: They could join the zeitgeist movement, It's hard to tell what it is with just one comment and probably one single movie can't describe it even if that's one of the most beautiful pieces of art (www.zeitgeistmovingforward.com) however I could describe it as an international initiative to raise awareness about the world's problems, and not just to identify them but to understand them so deeply that the solutions become self-evident.

    It's not only about a movie and hippies, we have a lot of free available materials created in several languages from several members from all over the world, and we don't charge a peny for it. We donate it. :)

  • Jan 9 2012: I think youth should compromise with yourself, treating get a good up bringing, good formation level, good habits and keeping frinds an family. Other theorys could be mutants, but a solid foundation is the basis to be good human beiings.
  • Jan 8 2012: hey well done, i'm 45 and ive just spent the last four days immersed, if not obsessed or addicted to TED talks, its life changing stuff, i'm studying again to become a teacher and this content has made me feel its all worthwhile.

    i hope you dont mind an old git like me passing comment, I grew up as a punk rocker in the UK and the spirit of you can make a change, you're an individual, don't listen to authority seems alive in TED regardless of age, have you listened to Bunker Roy about Barefoot Colleges? stunning stuff...

    i think its important to start locally so think about what you buy and how you consume, think about what you wear, eat and how you deal with waste in your own life first. Then check out the next step, you may well find the answers to what you can do are directly linked to the actions above... by being aware of the moral choices inherent in these actions you'll find the types of action you need to follow will be the causes you want to help.

    are you at school, college, are you a scientist or an artist? a techie or a poet? a designer or a sculptor? an engineer or a musician? the pathway for you might be in conducting experiments or sending messages...i might sound vague but i don't think the point is to tell you what to do, if you care you'll find a way...just think of what you are good at and what you care about and how to merge the two.

    then go online and do the research

    good luck

    • Jan 12 2012: Thanks for the advice! Yeah, I plan on attending college for at least 4 years - I still am not sure what really makes me tick. Hopefully, by then I will have developed even more skills that can be used to help my community... and the world. It's gonna be greatttttttt
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    Jan 8 2012: Grace,
    Came across a comment you made saying you worked at youth summer camps-this is an AWESOME place to start! I've been in camping/outdoor education for about 6 years now, working with all age groups, and it truly is the best thing I have ever done. I started at 16, and would spend the summer 110 miles from home. That was my first real taste of independence, as well as living in an environment that wasn't my own. It helps to make you grow as a person, and in turn, help others. Fast forward, I'm now 22, and spent the past summer working with the Chicago Park District. One of the coolest things our program did was have our campers spend a night in their city park, which can be absolutely terrifying for kids who have never been away from home, never slept in a tent before, and, not to mention, sleeping in an area that can be seen as dangerous. BUT, it was an experience that they really took to heart, and being able to provide a positive, new experience for someone who might not get that at home, is truly astounding. It's those kids who'll grow up and become counselors because of what YOU taught them.

    Sorry, that was long winded. I get excited when I see other people who are excited about youth empowerment AND summer camp.
    • Jan 12 2012: Alex,

      I think youth empowerment is a huge thing that we need to deal with nowadays. By the time we reach around high school age, we start to stop believing that we have the power to really change things. I refuse to forget :)
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    Jan 8 2012: Grace ( is one of my daughter's names, so you are endeared to me already)

    Be bold.
    If there are a few of the speakers you love and feel a connection with, write to them-email or snail mail. Tell them how you are changed because of their message. With technology we are able to have this incredible platform, yet we can easily not reach out and say hello....in person.

    I agree, volunteerism is a great path, though you might find by surrounding yourself with the people you connect with greatness is born.
    The elation and despair are incredible vehicles of change. Harness that energy, use it to spring higher.
    • Jan 12 2012: Huh! I never thought of directly contacting any of the TED speakers... thanks for the great idea.
  • Jan 7 2012: Grace, you can start right where you are. Look all around you. Today you will have numerous opportunities to elevate the joy level of miscellaneous people. You may be aware of your positive impact on some, e.g., if you go next to the housing unit in which you live and clean the windows of your neighbor or remove their trash or wash their car. You may be unaware of the stream of positive impacts you cause, when the people you help or make happy, spill that good feeling and acts on to other people. So what? Just keep doing one positive thing after another everytime you are aware of an opportunity to help someone or make someone happy and you have the freedom, time, resources, energy to do that. Right now where you are you possess a lot of power to change our world for the better and I suspect you do that in the ordinary course of your days. HAPPY TODAY.
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    Jan 7 2012: Hello You are on the right track right here. THis is a place where your ideas can be noticed by people with the skills and rescourses to make them real. Mean while try to do something to adress an issue that you find that somehow affects you, deeply and emotionally. I grow apples for a living over here in Chelan Wa. and I was watching a great documentary on wasred food, when suddenly they showed a picture of a beach covered as far as the eye could see with perfectly regular mud pies, these wee not childrens games they were childrens food. This was in Haiti prior to the earth quake and the children were being fed mud mixed with salt and lard to fill their bellies. I am violently affected, I cant explain why its so so hugly infuriating to me. But these children....how do we grow our saviors of tommarrow on mud? I get angry thinking about it. So I have decided to contact the Haitian Consul(the closest seems to be in Chicago) and try to work out a way to donate to them those apples that I would normally send to treetop, and those that i would send to make baby food, that is perfectly good apples which just are not pretty enough to sell, to these children. Find issues that enrage you and confront them. P.I.L. sang a song a million years ago called "Anger is an energy" well its true but use your anger and others to build not to destroy. Much love to you.
    • Jan 12 2012: Wow, what an amazing way to figure out how you can have a large impact using what you already have. Thank you for your story.
  • Jan 6 2012: Hi Grace, I was 16 some 53 years ago and still remember some of the dilemma you describe. You received a lot of very good comments here, all of which contain valuable hints and advice. I would add one more aspect, since you stated in responses you are looking for guidance: meditation. I recommend meditation to listen to God, if you have a religion and a relationship with the Father. Everyone's development of relationship is unique, so likely you will not be able to copy others.

    If you have interest, there is a vast host of heavenly personalities waiting to assist you. These unseen personalities are actually friendly and you can only do good by choosing God and learning what kind of god is God! This Original Personality wants your ultimate good and if you choose a life career of doing good for others, you will have found a marvelous joy you cannot describe for others. And you would be preparing nicely for the next life stage.

    Choose the religion you want, but try to find heavenly guidance through prayer and then take time after prayer to listen to your thoughts. There is no real "magic" to meditation; just go inward toward the God fragment inside and listen in a quiet place. The guidance you receive this way might just surprise you.

    Good guidance has been given you here on TED; now the important resource is available to you anytime by going inward daily in a quiet place.

    I wish you well. We need leaders like you!
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    Jan 6 2012: Start by trying to change YOUR world, do it in a positive way, add to, rather than take away - Find your gift and share it. Your world will change...

    Also don't throw rocks at those brave enough to build fences and walk on them (put themselves out there) - join them, or build your own fence and start walking. Some will throw rocks, some will join you.

    Encourge others to share of themselves, and take the time to apprecite why they are special - You've just changed THEIR world as well - good luck. Have fun, never stop sharing.
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    Jan 6 2012: It is no secret that at the stage of youth... we become idealistic and want to change the world! This is a great help for human beings, but unfortunately many people miss this window of opportunity. The fact that a forum such as this exists is because we all are more or less of the same goals and we want to change the world. It can happen. and its already happening.

    However, Grace, only he that seeks shall find and i am sure you have been pointed in some right directions already. Whatever, you do, do it well.

    You will eventually find your passion, but it will take some inner searching of yourself, What you love to do and why you love to do it and ultimately for who's benefit you do it. It will become clearer as you mature. All you need to do is keep your goal in sight, even if at times you find yourself in circumstances that seem like a detour from your goal; don't worry, they are necessary detours. Just keep your goal in sight.

    Cheers friend!
    • Jan 12 2012: Thanks for the encouragement :)
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    Jan 5 2012: I'm really short on time but check this, it's the UN's online volunteering portal. http://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en/index.html
    • Jan 6 2012: This looks really great - thank you so much!
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    • Jan 6 2012: Haha I suppose that option is always there - thanks for the suggestion!
  • Jan 4 2012: Start up your own blog. Become a icon a icon in your CIty or Town. A first step would be in your school.
    • Jan 5 2012: I have an anonymous blog, more for personal journal writing-type purposes, though. I have been thinking about putting my name on it - it would be a good place to voice an opinion, you're right. Thanks! :)
  • Jan 3 2012: First of all you could just go to sleep, give yourself some rest. Just relax.

    Very coincidental, I'm also a sixteen year old with the same good intentions to get involved and help wherever I can. And I also just stumbled upon this site, I still have got part of the night left to sleep though. Not like I need much of it, but still.

    Anyways, back to the point.. I can't really give you any names of any organizations you could volunteer or intern at, since I'm not an American myself and so I don't really know any specific organizations. But I do know that there's probably alot out there to do, to volunteer at, to help people with and to get involved with. You could go to hospitals, places for disabled people or to places for elders. (Not sure how you call these places in English.) You could help homeless people find a job. Or jobless people. I don't know. You could do anything, if you just go out there and look for things. =)

    I myself at the time work with disabled people and am planning to volunteer in a psychiatric hospital as well. I just happen to have to much free time so I might as well spend it learning, experiencing and helping. Same as you probably.

    Also, I'm sure you could find a lot of ways to get involved by yourself, it's not like there aren't many people who could use a hand out there! =)
    • Jan 3 2012: Hi Tommy! Thanks for commenting :)

      Yes, I've already volunteered with many organizations, and the experiences have all been really rewarding, but seem small compared to everything that people present in TED videos haha. I guess I just see so many areas that have room for improvement, and I don't know where to start. Not to mention that it's very easy to feel small when you're sixteen.