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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 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...

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