Student Spotlight – Kiara O.

Name: Kiara O.
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Areas of Global Interest: Global Education and Sustainability

Favorite Five
Class at School: AP Chemistry
Book: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Food: Cheese Pastelitos
Color: Cerulean Blue
Quote: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

We heard that you started a club to promote the use of eco-friendly materials at your school, congratulations! Can you tell us more about that?
I started the Ecology Schools Community Movement (ESCOM) at my school to raise awareness for various issues regarding sustainability. I wanted to provide an outlet for students to learn more about the impact our everyday actions have on the earth and the global community. Additionally, I wanted to inspire them to take action. The primary goals of the club are to raise awareness, take action, and gain an immersive experience. Students are engaged through online games and quizzes, documentaries, and hands-on activities. This year, we will be focusing on the impact of plastic materials on the environment. My goal is to have the students create school water bottles to mitigate our use of plastic bottles. With this, we are also trying to fundraise for a water bottle filling station because they are more eco-friendly and students will be more inclined to bring in their own bottle. The immersive experience for this year will either include a National Geographic museum located in the heart of New York City or a beach clean-up activity.

How did you become interested in sustainability? To what extent do your interests in sustainability and eco-friendly solutions inform your goals or who you are as a person?
My first interests in sustainability sparked in middle school after I became involved in an afterschool technology program. One of the requirements of the program was to choose a topic that we were passionate and create a final project. After speaking to various individuals, I decided to choose water pollution as my primary focus. Throughout the various articles, documentaries, and interviews, I wanted to do more than reading, I wanted to take action. Therefore, I co-led a fundraising campaign for the organization charity: water to raise money to build a well in a third-world nation. My interests in sustainability have unlocked a key aspect of who I am; a person who wants to take action. After my first Model G20 Summit in Boston in 2018, I was motivated to create a more long-lasting impact on students through ESCOM and will continue doing so in the future.

What advice do you have for other students who are interested in starting an eco-team and promoting more sustainable practices at their own schools?
Running an eco-team and/or promoting sustainable practices at your own school will require a large time commitment but it will be worth it! My advice to you is to initiate this with a group of hardworking individuals rather than doing so by yourself. The workload will be much lighter, you will have more exposure to new ideas and will create a larger impact. Furthermore, when implementing these new practices, find a way to raise awareness for the entire student body in an engaging manner, whether that be through an assembly, an awareness week, fun posters, etc… Implementing sustainable practices are important, but making sure the students know why these practices are being implemented is critical.

In addition to your studies, you are a member of your school’s Student Government Executive Board. Can you tell us about the work you are doing and how your understanding of international affairs has informed your work on the Executive Board?
For my second year, I hold both the position of Treasurer and Event Coordinator on my Student Council’s Executive Board. Currently, we are working on planning a school walkathon with our brother school. Through my studies of international affairs, global education has become a topic that I have been passionate about. My goal with the walk-a-thon is to make sure our students appreciate the education that they are receiving. Our student council executive board has met with our school administration and will be meeting with the executive board of our brother school. Additionally, the confidence that I have gained from studying international affairs has assisted me in better public speaking, problem-solving, and negotiation, compelling me to run for the role of president of Student Council.

You attended the Model G20 Summit in Boston and the Model G20 Task Force in Argentina. Can you share with us your most memorable Model G20 moment?
My most memorable Model G20 moment took place in a hotel in Cordoba, Argentina. The main goal of the Model G20 Task Force was to write a position paper encompassing the topics of sustainable development, the future of work, entrepreneurship and self-employment, education and skills, and the state of global teens. One night, after all of the planned workshops ended, I and a few other students decided to stay at a table and power work on the position paper. We sat at that table and we were immovable. One of the directors of the trip brought us orange juice, tea, and some cookies. After what seemed like a hundred cups of green tea, we went through the whole 20-page paper various times and made extra comments and suggestions. I have never seen a group of such motivated teenagers who want to promote change in our society. The mG20 delegates are beyond passionate and being around them has influenced me in ways beyond compare.

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