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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 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

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