TED Conversations

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 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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