Working as an Intern for the Global Co Lab Network-  Sylvia Luceno, February 19th 

One month ago yesterday, I moved from Missoula, Montana to Washington, D.C. to intern for Linda at the Global Co Lab Network. For the past few years, since my junior year of high school, I’ve worked on engaging young people in Montana in organizing events, rallies, and educating other young people on how to get involved; when I heard of the wonderful platform Linda has created to engage young people with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, I was sold. I bought my ticket and headed to D.C.

Reflecting on my first month, I’ve already learned so much and had previous beliefs affirmed. Here are just a few:

  1. Young People are a Force to be Reckoned With.  In the time I’ve worked with the teens in their respective hubs in the Eco Teen Action Network, I’ve been humbled by their tenacity and passion. Despite their extremely busy schedules, these teens have worked with their mentors to make great strides in pushing the use of a reusable ToGo box on National Landing, collaborating with DC Food Project to launch food waste audits and share tables in schools in DMV and release a PSA aimed at building urgency surrounding climate change. In times such as these, it’s easy to get swept up by the doom-and-gloom of recent happenings, but these teens and my partners in Montana give me much reason to be hopeful. They are not working to become leaders, they already are leaders. They have incredible drive and organizational skills, which in tandem with their passion makes them a total force for the future. I am thankful for individuals like Linda and Brian with the Smithsonian Conservation Commons and all of the hub mentors for recognizing this quality in today’s youth and working with them to ensure that their ideas reach the fullest possible potential.
  2. Give people the opportunity to say yes… you’d be amazed at what can be done if you just speak out. In light of issues such as climate change, world hunger and the harmful impacts of the use of single-use plastics, I believe we all have a part to play in their mitigation; civilians and corporations alike. Admittedly, it is not the average Joe’s responsibility alone to solve these issues, nor is that a realistic feat. However, we should hold corporations accountable where we can. We should not shy away from speaking out just because of the size or power of a given business. I’ve witnessed and been a part of engagements with a number of corporations/organizations with the Global Co Lab already, in which we encouraged partnerships in sustainability efforts. The Plastics Hub has recently presented reusable alternatives to disposable plastics to big players such as JBG Smith and soon Amazon and continue to make progress with this venture. These teens are incredibly busy as we all are, and haven’t even graduated from high school.  What excuses do we really have to not use our voices and power as consumers to promote sustainability? Let us be inspired by these teens to not remain comfortable within the paradigm that we are too small to make a change or that corporations will make these changes themselves.
  3. There is much to be done!  Working with the Global Co Lab Network has allowed me to become more familiar with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and reinforced the notion for me that there is so much we can do, no matter your age, discipline, or time budget. You can play a role in working towards a more sustainable future and have fun! The exposure to the endless engagement possibilities that working with the Global Co Lab has allowed has been exceedingly valuable. Co-Lab makes it easy for teens, in particular, to get in contact with the right people and to stay on track if they want to become change agents, and they want as many teens as they can get! If you are wondering how you can join a network of teens to get involved or gain support for an existing project of yours, the Global Co Lab Network is committed to providing you with the support you need. I would have loved to get involved with the Co-Lab when I was in high school and would encourage students to reach out!

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