Meet Samrawit Hadgu

I my name is Samrawit Hadgu and I am a Junior at Curtis High School. I have been in Global Kids for three years now. Freshman year I became really active with the Global Kids site at my school. When my GK trainers, Ranti and Justin, first told me about the Human Rights Activist Project I knew that was the program I most definitly had to be a part of. Since then Molly has inspired and encouraged me to be an active leader. It is a treat to be able to travel with Forhad and Jatnna for SustainAware-Slovenia 2014. The first time I travel with them Forhad blew me away with his perspective on educational reform at the Free Minds Free People conference in Chicago and Jatnna pushed me to be more vocal at the Power Shift Conference in Pittsburgh. 

 

SustainAware Slovenia Pre-Departure

I still can't explain how excited I am for our trip though I'm sitting on the plane now, writing this. I'm so honored to be apart of SustainAware and represent Global Kids on this trip. I am really looking forward to the local days of action. I am interested in learning more about the issues the other organizations are working. I am most excited to meet with other SustainAware participants and learn about the work they do. I also look forward to our beautiful stay by the coast of Izola, Slovenia.

 

Day 1

Izola is beautiful. I got to interview a local student about what the city was celebrating at today’s festival where locals painted their faces and wore costumes.  He was one of about ten men dressed In 80 kilo wool ensembles. He told me they dressed like monsters to ”scare away the winter.” These men were warriors with logs as weapons. They beat on drums and hung cow bells, heard blocks away, around their belts as a form of intimidation to scare winter. He was really interested to hear that we were from the U.S. as he hopes to come to MIT to further his engineering studies.  This was such a great first day because we got to experience an important part of their culture as soon as we arrived.

 

Day 2

On our first official day of SustainAware, I met all the participants from the seven different countries and organizations. It was beyond intimidating, and inspiring, of course meeting these young people from all over the world who are either graduating, have graduated, or are working on PhDs. All of the organizations are also working towards youth development but GK is one of the few that has peer on peer education. It was fascinating to hear the different approaches these organizations took to work towards the similar goal of empowering youth to take action in the decision making process.

 

Day 3

Today was by far the most exciting and exhausting day so far. We visited the beautiful medieval town of Piran and the castle that stood high above it. We worked on our Manifestos where we agreed on the importance of involving youth through all stages of the sustainable development decision making process and not just adding them as tokenism of involving youth once all the plans are made. I joined the publication group of SustainAware. We had many ideas on who to target and what kind of publication we should create to make it easier for people looking for relevant and reliable resources to plan their own local days of action.

   My favorite workshop today was on social entrepreneurs led by Marina from TierraVida. It was a really interesting conversation especially because participants couldn't agree with social entrepreneurs being defined as men and women with system changing solutions that address the world's most urgent social challenges. There was trouble understanding why one had to change the system and why addressing the immediate symptoms rather than the roots of the problem didn't make a social entrepreneur. Marina replied beautifully saying you don't have to change the whole system, giving the example of microfinancing in Bangladesh. Yunus didn’t change the entire banking system but brought change in how credit was done in a specific and reusable method.

 

Day 4

We did a workshop on sustainability and values. Robin asked who the most important influence on our values should be between friends/peers, parents/family and culture. I thought my family of course because I was raised by very open-minded parents in a culture that can be one-sided. They raised us to respect everyone and everything. Everyone in the circle also said family and culture. But Julia brought up a fresh point saying that our values usually come from our parents and more or less the culture had a huge influence on our parent's values. Our peers are the only new perspective that we are surrounded by, which totally makes sense, but I was really taken aback by it because I never thought of it that way.

 

Day 5

Today in Ljubljana, peace activist Tomo Kri┼żnar was the guest speaker for No Excuse Slovenia. He talked to us about Sudan before and after the war. He told us what first inspired him to travel to Kordofan. He explained what the Eyes and Ears of God campaign was and how it helped the local ethnic Nuba civilians. These small cameras handed out were able to help collect evidence of the military's war crimes against them. It was inspiring to see the love he had for the Nuba and the passion he spoke with for mistreated indigenous people.

 

Day 6

The Zagreb high school we visited today was shocking to say the least. The kids are building solar panels and hydraulic machines. They are in the process of building a wind turbine and in the future a system of purifying oil to biodiesel to lower their reliance on fossil fuels. The professor explained how it was cheaper for the school to make the oil themselves then buy it. The school was pretty amazing but it was disappointing to know not that many girls were enrolled in this engineering school. It actually felt like an all boy school. The technical schools in the states need to step their game up.