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Featured Changemaker: AMAYA BACELLIERI on YGL, self-empowerment, and the three rules of hacky sack club

Amaya Bacellieri is a member of Philanthropiece’s YGL program. They are a senior at New Vista High School in Boulder and have been in YGL for the past two years. Amaya is passionate about working to confront the pressing social issues of today through social change movements alongside passionate and driven youth. Our YGL program intern, Messa, conducted this interview with Amaya, a shining example of a changemaker in our community.

What is your definition of a changemaker?

I see a changemaker as someone who sees a situation, and sees that there is a need for positive change. They then do everything in their power to be that change. It doesn’t have to be a major change, it can be just a personal mental shift.

Who is a changemaker in your community that you admire?

When we traveled to Detroit for our insight trip, we had the opportunity to learn about the activist Grace Lee Boggs. She was an avid advocate for the African-American community, and fought for black rights. As a Chinese-American woman, she also fought for women’s rights and education. It’s awesome how  she tackled oppression from so many different angles. She was the ultimate advocate.

In what ways are you a changemaker?

The Youth Global Leadership program is the primary way; YGL is the changing of a mindset, a meeting of the minds of those with a deep-set intention to change the world, of those who are going to be revolutionaries. That is a changemaker. In YGL, we are actually doing something, learning how, working every day to change our own minds, and the mindset of those around us. This program has allowed me to identify signs of societal oppressions and norms, and to look at privilege in ways I had never been able to before I joined one year ago. I am seeing the world through a new lens.

What events in your life have shaped your values and how does what you’re doing reflect those values?

When I was a kid, I lived in a commune in Costa Rica. There was no Internet or formal education, my imagination and empowerment came from myself. I had to sit, and play with the dirt, or the monkeys in the trees.  I figured out how to empower myself, how to do, create, and build. The ability to do things on my own inspires me. It allows me to have to confidence to change the world.

What key relationships have shaped your life path?

My dad. He was a philosophy major and has inspired me to think outside the box. He helped put anti-societal construct thoughts in my mind, taught me to question what I’m told, and who I’m supposed to be, don’t just follow to fit in. If not for my dad, I wouldn’t have had the spark to even join the YGL program.

How is community important to you?

Community is the only way that change is possible. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t change the world by himself; he rallied people around him, in support of him and the fight for racial justice, which was the way he brought about change. With community, there will be a rally behind you to be active in change alongside you.

What projects are you currently involved in?

I started a Hacky Sack Club at school. The three rules that we have are really relevant to everything else that I do with my life: never apologize, don’t serve yourself first, and if you have a new trick, try it outside of the circle first so you don’t mess everyone else up.  I have community with people I would have never talked to before. That’s inspiring to me.

What’s inspiring you about your current work with YGL?

I am so excited about the changing of the service-learning aspect of YGL. We are empowering each other to build and facilitate our own change. That could look like creating organizations, activist propaganda groups, making things: the possibilities are endless.

How do you make space for yourself?

Spending time in nature takes me back to my roots. In the end, we are all just trees and dirt. I follow what feels right for me; I don’t take myself too seriously. I have no more power or significance than anything else in this world. I also love to meet and collaborate with fellow changemakers; my community allows me the space I need to grow.

To learn more about the Youth Global Leadership program, check out our website at


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