A side effect of growing up in the age of the internet

A side effect of growing up in the age of the internet, with information and news only moments away, is that from a young age I was exposed to horrific human rights abuses. As I have grown, I have seen many problems go unaddressed for years – for example the food epidemic in Yemen – even when people had the ability to stop them. One of the most prevalent issues that I have seen is people my age becoming desensitized to violence and suffering. It’s not hard – constantly seeing people dying and suffering can take an enormous emotional toll on us if we don’t detach ourselves – but it’s also extremely dangerous. Because of this mindset, many people are seemingly frozen, unable to take action to combat the suffering that they’re exposed to. Because of witnessing this as I grew up, I believe that the best way for me to help change my community is break this cycle and enable people to get involved in their communities.
This mentality has already spurred me to engage with a multitude of charity and community-building projects: Casa Marianella, a shelter for immigrant women in Austin, Community First and its sister project Mobile Loaves and Fishes, both aiming to provide pathways out of homelessness, and Austin’s Angels, a charity created to help foster children and families. Volunteering was the spark that originally made me realize that our community needs to focus on resolving important and attainable issues in our community instead of becoming fixated on problems that we are unable to resolve. After realizing this, I became involved in the Kyle Area Youth Advisory Council. As a group, we have worked to create a booklet of areas in Buda, Kyle, and the surrounding area that people can volunteer at. Once finished, we will distribute this booklet to Hays and Lehman High School, so that other students can also work to help better our community. This was made even more apparent to me when I joined my school’s speech and debate program.
Through this club, I have been able to research federal policies and create my own ideas for how to address the topic presented – ranging from public education, foreign policy engagement with China, and national security – as well as hone my argumentation skills. Because we create our own federal policy ideas, I have learned more about ways that I can combat our propensity to become desensitized with the violence and issues in the world. I have also been exposed to more suffering, and that has only strengthened my urge to change our community in this way. While I joined the program out of curiosity, I believe that I can utilize these skills that I have been developing in order to do good. I also believe that becoming more involved in and understanding of the policymaking process can benefit other people. Through advocating for people in our community to become more involved in both volunteerism and policymaking, I believe that people can realize that there are multiple ways that we can address issues in society, rather than becoming transfixed by the problems that they see.
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