Hope for Change: Reflections from our Student Ambassadors

 The student ambassadors featured, from left to right: Izzie Iregui, Riya Menon, Gabrielle Mitchell-Bonds, Erin Yoo and Adriana Sierra.

January 20, 2021 was a historic day for many reasons. It was a show of bipartisan support after the attack on the Capitol 2 weeks prior. It was in the midst of a global pandemic that’s claimed more than 400,000 lives and a nationwide reckoning of our long history of racism and bigotry. And, importantly, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first Black, South Asian, and woman Vice President.

Many youths in this country have grown up through truly unprecedented times. They’ve witnessed the good and bad that this country has to offer, yet many are more resolute than ever to build a better future for the next generation. In fact, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) works with many incredible and inspiring young people through our Student Ambassador program who are walking the talk and advocating for kids.

We asked a few of our Student Ambassadors for their reflections on where we are as a country and their hopes for the future. Here is what they said.

Erin Yoo

Illinois Math & Science Academy

“I believe one of the most important things we can do as a nation is invest in and prioritize education, especially in low-income neighborhoods and underfunded schools. We have to show young children, particularly children of color and children in poverty, that they matter and their education matters. I hope the Biden administration will invest in early childhood education and schools in lower-income communities. I also hope they will reunite children and their families at the U.S.-Mexico border immediately and promise never to allow the separation of families at the border. Finally, I hope the Biden administration will protect kids around the world from conflict and support their families through humanitarian aid.”

Adriana Sierra

College of Charleston
South Carolina

“The recent attack of the U.S. Capitol opened peoples’ eyes to the drastic separation we have between the people of this democracy. People these days judge others based on what political party they belong to and are extremely close-minded, not wanting to listen to the opinions of others. Change is what we need the most. The amount of racial injustices that occurred last year is truly unfathomable. Many children have to deal with racism before they even know what it means. I honestly believe that raising awareness, protesting and advocating against racism is the only way people’s minds and eyes could open to the reality of what’s going on in this world.”

Izzie Iregui

Annie Wright Upper School
Washington State

“To overcome systemic racism, we must first adjust the system itself. We need to prioritize educational funding in neighborhoods with people of color so that we can have more diverse representation in powerful positions, enforce mandatory training specifically dealing with situations similar to those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in police forces, and most importantly include the reality of oppression and the history of people of color in early education. Children of color deserve to be prioritized, they deserve to represented, and they deserve to be loved, and by making these changes now our growing generations will be able to live in a society they don’t have to live in fear of.”

Riya Menon

Fairfax High School

“In the past four years, we’ve seen a major divide among the American people. It is disheartening to see that protests for social causes are immediately aligned to a political party thereby creating opposition. A few weeks ago, we witnessed an attack on the U.S. Capitol from those unwilling to accept the outcome of the election. This was not a protest but an act of domestic terrorism. We need to start healing and rebuilding by instilling these basic concepts of respect, discussion and faith in established processes. President Joe Biden needs to recognize differences, incorporate viewpoints and then lead the country forward.”

Gabrielle Mitchell-Bonds

Spring Valley High School
South Carolina

“To heal the nation, we need people who can listen to marginalized persons. The people of our nation need to learn about our history to understand why things are the way they are now, and what we can do to possibly change things for the better. When having discussions about racism, in particular, we need to amplify the voices of people of color and let their stories be heard. Another major problem that contributes to inequity in education is poverty and economic inequality. In low-income communities where schools are funded by property tax, students are unable to get the educational resources they need to be successful. I hope to see the Biden administration aid and support communities to fund their schools and give children the education they deserve.”

In this time of change, I’m inspired and grateful every day to work with these students and watch them make a difference. They make me hopeful that together, we can build a better future for all children.