International Youth Day: Celebrating TeachAids’ Interns
Every year on August 12, we celebrate International Youth Day, a day that feels especially significant given the current state of our world. Managing the weight of a global pandemic, it is exceedingly important to feel empathy and hope. At TeachAids, our youth have played a critical role in creating transformation – through compassion, advocacy and timely action. They have fearlessly fought racial injustices, health access disparities, human rights violations and widespread prejudices.
Since our founding in 2009, TeachAids has had thousands of youth actively participating in our initiatives ranging from our global HIV and AIDS work, to our CrashCourse Concussion education efforts, and finally our CoviDB.org education expansion. From researching, proofreading, script writing, filming, video editing, coding and computational work, to fact-checking, media updates, and marketing, our youth serve as critical pillars engaging in important tasks. They have been at the forefront of reimagining a safer and stronger future for all.
To honor their commitment and passionate engagement, we wanted to highlight and amplify their voices on International Youth Day. Of the hundreds of youth volunteers who have been an important part of our history, below are some of their insights on the importance of volunteering to promote social change.
How did/does volunteering with TeachAids impact you personally?
“Through the concussion initiative, I have discerned how individual patient stories, especially for stigmatized issues such as concussions and mental health, highlight a sense of humanity that is often lost with statistical and research-based analyses. This project spotlights my interest in combating stigmas by using technology to amplify the human stories underlying medicine.” —Ryan Crowley, Stanford University Graduate (2021) in Biomedical Computation
“Being a part of TeachAids has taught me so much about cultural awareness. Educating people about staying healthy is a challenging, whether you are fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, increasing awareness around concussions, or combating the spread of misinformation on COVID. My work with Teachaids has taught me the importance of embracing the cultures of others, and using that understanding to educate as many people as possible.” —Rachel Hyzny, Junior studying Psychology and Spanish on the Premedical Track, Case Western Reserve University
“Having a team of passionate, young individuals means that our passions fuel each other. We can bounce ideas off of teammates, allowing us all to be more creative and think bigger. I think that our experience at TeachAids will influence how we think in our careers later on: we will be more thoughtful and more understanding of the nuance that comes with trying to improve the world. At TeachAids, we also get a chance to put our more academic skills into action, testing them out in the real world. We experience the obstacles that arise in the world and get to watch more experienced team members overcome these challenges (and do a fair share of learn-by-doing!).” —Leila Orszag, Senior studying Psychology and Statistics, Stanford University
“By volunteering with TeachAids, I’ve seen firsthand what is possible when you have the passion, drive, and teamwork to pursue your dream; in this case, solving today’s most pressing global health challenges.” —Samantha Yamashita, Senior at Palo Alto High School
How does volunteering benefit our community and planet?
“The fact that TeachAids doesn’t just cater to one audience, but rather the entire world is their demographic really elucidates the key aspect of Global Health being non-discriminatory, enabling all to easily access and understand healthcare and health practices.” —Yash Mahajan, Freshman studying International Relations and Economics, University of Pennsylvania
“My experience working with the Concussion StoryWall has really allowed me to reconsider the impact that our stories can have on others. This database is almost entirely individuals just sharing their experiences, which provides an invaluable resource of firsthand reflections and advice on brain injuries, a topic that is not discussed enough. As someone who had a concussion, I wish that I had access to this resource, and this is how I know that this is truly beneficial work for our community.” —Alexa Ryan, Sophomore studying Psychology and Anthropology on the Premedical Track, Stanford University
Why is it important for youth to pursue international development work?
“International development work allows youth to understand the interconnectedness of the world, no matter what field they are interested in pursuing. I think having a perspective that considers a world outside of your borders helps youth to see and be inspired by a bigger picture.” —Anaum Ahmad, Sophomore studying Global Public Health, University of Virginia
“It is important for the youth to remove a mask of self-centeredness and understand the difficulties those around the world go through. International development work exposes us to these stories and compels us to help those less fortunate.” —Ritesh Dontula, Sophomore studying Biosciences, Rice University
“Looking beyond the borders of our country allows us to set aside political motives and economic questions in favor of humanitarian issues, which is really uniting and has been very inspiring and hopeful to me in the midst of this pandemic.” —Isabella Fish, Senior at Crystal Springs Uplands School
“Development work grows the impact that compassion has in healing yourself, others, communities, and even systems.” —Treyvion Foster, Stanford University Graduate (2017) in Psychology
“It is inspiring and rewarding to be a part of something that you know is bigger than yourself.” —Peter Knowles, Junior studying Psychology, Stanford University
“Developing the perspective of others nurtures empathy and understanding. Having the opportunity to see the world from someone else’s perspective brings us all closer together.” —Elodie Mortimer, Junior at Marin Academy
“Pursuing international development work teaches skills of empathy and holistic thinking that most youth are not exposed to within their schools. Engaging in activities that allow you to extend past the bubble gives you a chance to learn more about the world and about yourself.” —Siri Peddineni, Junior studying Anthropology, Human Biology and Global Health on the Premedical Track, Emory University
How could such engagement help you grow?
“No community exists in a vacuum – we’re all shaped in some way by one another. Similarly, each one of us has unique identities that intersect to form who we are. Being involved as a youth in global development, research, and education initiatives is an invaluable way to learn with and from folks from other communities and broaden our perspectives.” —Amy Bugwadia, pursuing a Master of Science in Community Health and Prevention Research, Stanford University School of Medicine
“Youth who do international development work learn to work with people who they’d otherwise never meet.” —Micah Gilbert, Freshman studying Cognitive Science with a focus in Machine Learning, UC San Diego
“Even though it might sounds a bit corny, it shows you that you can change the world. The fact that code that I write can actually be used to help real people across the world is amazing to think about.” —Neel Redkar, Junior at Dougherty Valley High School
“International development work is extremely important for youth as it introduces so much diversity of thought into their lives. It will be a huge advantage to them to have a more informed worldview […] so that they can better collaborate on international issues such as future pandemics and climate change. —Dylan Ryder, Junior studying Molecular and Cell Biology with a focus in Infectious Disease, UC Berkeley
“I believe pursuing international development no matter the scale allows you to understand and empathize with different perspectives. You can see how your perspective can contribute whether it is through new ideas or supporting already existing ideas.” —Sanjana Taware, Junior at Evergreen Valley High School
“It is important for youth to engage in international development work because it provides a new perspective on the spectrum of privilege around the world to many youth and allows them to impact the world and, in turn, themselves in ways that they would not have been able to had they not participated.” —Kiran Wijesooriya, Senior at Walnut Hills High School
On behalf of the TeachAids organization, we’d like to thank our youth for all that you have invested in us and the world to pave the way towards a more equitable and sustainable future. You are an inspiration to us.