Image is of Emily, a FEEST Youth Leader. The quote reads "Us young people are the generation of the future, so we need to start early with that mindset that we have the power to change, and we can do anything we want to create the world that we want to live in."

Image is of Emily, a FEEST Student Organizer.

Dev, our Communications Manager, had a chat with one of our youth leaders, Emily (She/Her)! Emily is 16, an amazing crochet artist & all-around crafter, passionate about justice, and a sophomore at Franklin High School! Check out the full interview below:

Dev: Hi Emily, thanks for taking the time to chat with me 🙂  Why did you decide to join FEEST?

Emily: Well, I’m in my sophomore year of high school, and I was like “Oh it’s time to explore, let me explore stuff!” Then I saw FEEST and was like, “Oh, I hate school food.” And organizing seems fun, you know? Taking leadership, and getting those qualities for my life ahead in adulthood. So I decided to try it out! And that’s how I got here! 

Dev: Oh I love that, yes! Sometimes you just gotta try something new! The next question is all about your dreams for the future. I use the word dreams instead of goals because a lot of times folks ask about your college plans, but I wanna know about your vision for your life, your family, and your community looks like. What do your dreams look like? 

Emily: For me, I hope that my mom is healthy because she’s getting older, so hopefully in 10 years she will be healthy and still with me. I also hope that my whole family is happy and that I’m happy with myself because I became the best person I could be at that moment. And I hope I’m making lots of money! 

Dev: Hehehe, I love that. What do you wanna do to make lots of money? 

Emily: I’m not sure yet, but maybe something in the medical field? I really like Grey’s Anatomy, so being an ER Nurse? It sounds cool, so I might do that.  

Dev: Oh gosh yes, the world needs nurses, especially ER Nurses! I’ll check back in 10 years to see if your dreams change at all! My next question for you is, Why is Youth Organizing important to you? 

Emily: I’m gonna talk specifically about Mental Health. I come from an Asian family and in the Asian community, we don’t really go to therapy and mental health isn’t really a thing you know? It wasn’t recognized as an issue until recently and there’s still a lot of stigma around it. It’s important to organize about that for me because it affects your mood every day, it affects your motivations in life, and it affects how you feel about yourself, and how you treat others. That’s why it’s very important. As a young person, sometimes I feel like I can’t do anything to change the world. But that’s wrong because us young people are the generation of the future, so we need to start early with the mindset that we have the power to change, and that we can do anything we want to create in the world that we want to live in. For our children, for our nieces or nephews. That’s why youth organizing is important to me.

Dev: I love that answer so much, thank you for centering on mental health, because that was gonna be my next question! Thank you for dedicating yourself to your community, and making change. Along the same lines, Why does food justice matter to you?

Emily: For me, as someone who has eaten school food since elementary, it’s important that you can eat so you can be healthy and strong; for growing up and to have the energy to do things. In my community, it’s important to have good food so you can be healthy, especially since medical bills cost so much. Not only that but food is what brings people together, it’s an important part of everyone’s culture, and it’s something that needs to be respected too. 

Dev: So true, we all can definitely come together around food. To transition us a bit, what are some issues that you are seeing at your school right now? 

Emily: Well, one of the most recent things is the school lifting the mask mandate. Because of this, everyone, including myself, is even more stressed now about seeing some people without masks. I know COVID isn’t a new thing anymore, it’s been like two years or so, but a lot of people like myself have older parents or grandparents, so COVID is still bad, it can still be really bad. My classmate had COVID and she was telling me how terrible she felt. So imagine her, who’s young, but then having that with an older person you know? I’m worried for my mom basically. 

Dev: That’s real, my sister works at a preschool and all kids under 5 can’t get vaccinated, so just like older people they are vulnerable to COVID still. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Emily: I just want people to know that I learned in class today about government policies in the past that really affected and still affect Black families. We learned about gentrification this week. So I just wanna let people know that the stuff you are learning about is not stuck in the past, don’t separate yourself from those issues because all those issues affect you too. And it’s happening right now. So it’s something we need to care about and worry about, right now. Don’t try to separate yourself, I know they say ignorance is bliss, but that bliss can only last for so long. 

Thank you for reading Emily’s Youth Spotlight! 🎉

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