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The following post was written by Sierra A., a Youth Global Leadership (YGL) member and senior in high school.  As part of her participation in YGL, Sierra has created the “Inspirate Project,” which seeks to ignite conscious conversation among her peers through the medium of social media. Throughout the program YGLers are encouraged to create a “Cor Project,” which is a tangible representation of where their individual skills intersect with the needs of a community. Thanks to Sierra for her sharing her story with us!

“Social Networking is an ironic name for something that has little to do with connecting us with others, and everything to do with social promotion.” ~Alexa Chung

Sierra, volunteering at a local goat farm.

Sierra, volunteering at a local goat farm.

Who knew social media, which was meant to bring us closer together, would end up ruining our close communication with one another? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am just as addicted to the internet as the next 17 year-old-girl, but I also believe that there has to be more to communicating through social media.

I believe that the young adults of this world have the power to turn our generation’s technology into a vehicle to learn and explore issues and passion. We hold in our hands (quite literally) a piece of technology that has the ability to influence, educate, and involve mass groups of people, on social issues that are relevant to our lives today. We have been taught in school that learning is a chore and that learning is boring. With social media, however, the way we view education can change. We can enable teenagers to learn about topics that they are interested in and that inspire them to go out and to take action, to talk to one another, and to have intelligent conversations. My vision is to use social media like Youtube, to create fun and informative videos about environmental, political, and social justice issues. I hope to use these videos to inspire and encourage teenagers to take an interest in the world, and to bring passion and action into their lives and communities.

As part of Philanthropiece’s Youth Global Leadership Program, which I am a member of, we are encouraged to explore, design and implement our own passion-based “Cor Projects”.  I first came up with my idea for a Cor Project at a retreat for a school program I am in, called “360 Leaders.” This program was developed in high schools around the country to create a buddy system between an upperclassman and a freshman. This selective program chooses the top 100 leaders out of 350 applications and trains them to be a mentor. I was lucky enough to be accepted last year, and had to go to a training retreat. One of the ice breaker activities we did was to answer a series of personal questions. One of the questions they asked us to respond to was: “What is one social issue that you are interested in?” As we went around the circle and everyone answered, I was shocked and upset to find that out of the 30 people in the room, 28 of them responded by saying, “Uh, I’m not really interested in a specific social issue.” I thought to myself, “How is it possible that in a room with the school’s top leaders, only a few of them felt any interest in a social issue?!” The only answer I came up with to my question was that they didn’t know enough about any one issue, and therefore didn’t know what interested them. This is when I realized that I wanted to raise awareness in my peers around social issues, and I wanted to use social media to do it.

Now, I know that social media is controversial and that it is used more for bad than good every day. However, regardless of whether it is good or bad, it is incredibly powerful. Teenagers spend an average of 7 ½ hours a day using some form of social media, and social media sites like Facebook and Youtube have over 1 billion users. This is where my aspiration lies: if our society is going to spend this much time using social media, we might as well be using social media as an outlet to share useful and important information. I’m excited to embark on this project, and stay tuned for my first video!

…And just in case you want to spend some more time on the internet after reading this, here are  the “Top 10 Youtube Videos for Social Good”.

SIerra A

Sierra A. has been a member of Philanthropiece’s Youth Global Leadership program for 4 years. She is an avid swimmer, a lover of all marine creatures, and is passionate about using social media to create positive social and environmental change in the world.