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Interview with a Young Activist Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by amy, Canada Jul 22, 2004
Human Rights   Interviews


Interview with a Young Activist Ann Nguyen is a Year 11 student from Sacred Heart College, Geelong VIC, Australia. She is one of the leaders of the Social Justice Committee at her school.

Amy Lam: Why are you interested in social justice/ refugee issues? What inspired you to become involved in the first place?

Ann Nguyen: When I was nine years old, I went to Vietnam for a holiday with my family. As a young typical girl, I was expecting Vietnam as a tropical, wealthy, warm country. I was shocked to witness the poor conditions - people were lying on streets, begging for food and money and living in tents. I thought to myself: Why am I so lucky to live in Australia? Why do people suffer in these poor conditions? How can I make a difference in their lives? I also thought about putting myself into their shoes.

I am a teenaged Vietnamese girl. In the past, I have been discriminated because of the colour of my skin and the colour of my hair. I know what it feels like to be an outsider. I believe that everyone should be treated equally and not be judged. It may sound plain but I do want world peace.

AL: Do refugee youth face special challenges? What are they? How do you think they can be addressed?

AN: Refugee youth find it very challenging to be accepted into a new country. They may find it difficult to get used to the culture and language. They may not feel apart of their school or community. They may be discriminated/judged. They may not have a family. They may not be qualified for jobs. They may not have education. These aspects may lead them to psychological/ financial problems. We can simply welcome them to our society and treat them as though we would like to be treated. We can support them by writing letters or send gifts to them. We can be their voices and spread the message that we show concern for them.

AL: What are some of the activities youy have participated in around refugee issues?

AN: I have listened to a Bosnian refugee talkon her experiences before she came to Australia, as well as participated in a guestpeakers' presentation on refugees. I have learnt alot from their resources. Recently, I set up and participated in "Detention Centre" at my school, so that my peers can find out what it feels like to be locked behind the fences, like many refugee children in Australia experience in their day-to-day lives.

AL: What can youth face around the world do to raise awareness about social justice and refugee issues?

AN: Youth can simply acknowlege and accept the differences in people - disabled, aboriginines, refugees. They can participate in local organisations, or a committee. I think that fundraising tends to lose the focus of the issue - another way to participate other than fundraising is to organise activities where people can participate together like shoe shining (what does child labour feel like?), setting up a mini detention centre (what it feels to be locked in), or write peace messages on banners, as some examples. These examples can put someone in another person's shoes. There are many social justice issues (locally and globally), so it makes sense to focus on one main issue per month.

AL: What is some advice you would give to other young activists, or simply young people who are interested in becoming more active in social justice issues, based on your experience?

AN: My advice is to ask yourself -what issue in social justice am I most interested in? How will I make a difference? I think planning is the key element. It is also essential to involve people such as family, friends or your community. Most importantly, always have fun and enjoy in what you do regarding to global issues. You will eventually make a difference to the world whether it be small or big.



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Henry Ekwuruke | Aug 5th, 2004
Good job here.

Dipti Thakur | Aug 27th, 2004
cheers to you

treat them as though we would like to be treated
Mustafa Soliman | Apr 27th, 2009
yep that what we all need , we have to treat everyone as we want to be treated , we have to encourage others because we need someone to encourage us sometime who knows ..!! wishing if the whole world was thinking as you about the youth energetic tools

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