Four youth activists spoke to the network at the 2009 meeting in Denver. Their inspiring words brought life to the discussion. Below are the words of Araceli.
How do you become civically active?
"I started when they were rumors from DPS trying to close the school I attended (Manual high school). The rumor became a threat then a reality. Finally we the students and community all came forward to organize us to prevent this from happening. Finally they closed Manual high school and all our work only got DPS to reopen the school two years later after a new plan."
What projects have you worked on that tried to make a difference to the public?
"I did canvassing for this election even though I know I can’t vote. My main reason was because I want to see the country I live in to change for the good of the undocumented immigrants and American people. When I was canvassing I meet and older lady about 80 years old. She was moving because she lost her home. She asked me so many questions about which candidate was better in terms of who will support more the Latinos and so on but what impacted me was that she asked me when I’m barely 20 years old. It put me to think how much more I needed it to get prepared for the need of others. The suffering of others made me not want to sit down and do nothing when I know I’m not the only one who dreams, wishes, and wants to make a difference not only for this country but for the world. Having a task right now such as letting others know what little they could do to help others and also helps me understand the needs of others. Also I use Facebook. Facebook is a social networking on the internet used to communicate with others, people who are in the same career you are and make connections with them or just for friends. I mainly use it for my job and also to communicate with my family. In which I was dragged to help support the Democratic Party to pass new laws for illegal families or in-state tuition for students. I’m also writing a letter for the senators so they vote for the Dream act to pass. I work for a fashion website called Denverfashionbeat. I’m the stylist correspondent and the model for my feature. I invite you to check it out. I advertise for free designers and boutiques in Denver to support their work and bring more clients."
What could schools or neighborhoods or cities do to support more youth to become active?
"Open more opportunities for the students who really want to do something with their lives. Society should stop underestimating them. Instead they should help them grow so they could make the future better. Our elders should keep being an example instead of trying to approach us and see us like we are not equal. No one ever stops learning in this life. And for the same reason they should teach us what they know so we don’t just keep dreaming. So we get thrown our education and any other things we wish to do but actually continue a path of success just like others do and not see it like an obstacle."
What do you want to do next?
"I want to work on things that not only benefit me but others in general. So there is democracy or at least more equality in this society. I don’t want to see more alienation between adults and youth. Even between adults. I want really to be here and I want to listen. Adults need to stop acting like they listen because it is an action that makes you not want to be active. The reason why is because nothing really happened after trying our best to change when we overcome that it would make a stronger relationship between adults and youth."