Young Californians Bringing a Better Tomorrow

— Caroline Ro, Gunn High School Green Team

Meet Caroline and her colleagues on the Henry Gunn High School Green Team, in Palo Alto, California. They're passionate about making the world better. One of our plans in spring 2019 is to connect this determined group of young people with students abroad also engaged in environmentalism. Go Team!

Gunn is a place that pushes you to go further. During my four years here, the ambition of my peers and the encouragement of my teachers and community have inspired me to be as hardworking and creative as I can be. As a member of Gunn’s Green Team, for example, I’ve had the chance to help organize a school-wide documentary viewing, volunteer in local garbage clean-ups and tree plantings, and present on different environmental issues such as fast fashion and improper battery disposal. I’ve also had the opportunity to listen to some inspiring guest speakers and activists, among whom is Ms. Mackraz. Among our upcoming projects is also an educational initiative into local elementary schools to teach younger kids about the environment and marine conservation.

The support we’ve received from our school and local community organizations—in the form of funding, advisors, facilities, and more—has brought me to realize that I have always been supported in acting on my passions. Even outside of Green Team, I’ve been encouraged to explore writing, art, and science; I’ve grown up knowing that, regardless of what I choose to pursue, the only things limiting my impact on the world are my own determination and imagination. I recognize, however, that Gunn and Palo Alto are undoubtedly anomalies in this sense.

"By disregarding environmental issues such as pollution and global warming, we are breeding a world of disease, violence, and inequity–especially for our youth."

More recently, my interest in environmental issues has made known to me another version of the adolescent experience. Around the world, billions of children are unable to attend school due to lack of infrastructure and resources, which is often a result of environmental issues. The ongoing Yemeni Civil War (fueled in part by water shortages), annual hurricanes in the Caribbean (amplified by ocean warming), and urban diseases (perpetuated by air and water pollution) only scratch the surface in terms of why most kids my age don’t share my perspective on their own potential and abilities. Oftentimes, kids my age are too busy worrying about their livelihoods to realize their interests or their calling. The issues caused by pollution, climate change, and resource exploitation go further than simply affecting the physical health and living situations of billions of children; they deny them the chance to act on their ambitions.

In this way, the world’s ignorance regarding environmental issues is, in every sense, a humanitarian crisis. By disregarding environmental issues such as pollution and global warming, we are breeding a world of disease, violence, and inequity–especially for our youth. As someone who has been encouraged to make a mark on my community and improve my world, this disparity has made the urgency of environmentalism especially clear to me. We must recognize that, by steering away from a sustainable future, we are restricting the progress of our youth, and in turn, the progress of the world.

That’s why I believe that our own efforts to spearhead initiatives on campus and spread awareness, along with the OliveSeed Foundation’s work to improve literacy and the environment, are so crucial. It only takes one look around me to see that the ambition and hopefulness of young people is among the world’s most powerful and promising forces for a better future; coupled with a more fair distribution of resources, today’s youth will bring about a better tomorrow.

Caroline Ro, 2019

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