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 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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