by Grace F., grade 9
In our ninth grade world history class, we just finished a unit on industrialization’s effects on people. Three groups in our class worked on different topics: child labor in India, working conditions in Bangladesh and pollution in China. After we finished these projects, we were able to Skype with a political officer working for the State Department, James P. Feldmayer. JP works at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. During our Skype conversation, we asked him questions on our topics.
The group working on China asked about carbon emissions and pollution and JP explained to us how we all play a role in China’s pollution. He used the example of a pen; we want that pen to be cheap and in order to pay as little as possible for it, it needs to be manufactured cheaply. So it is a shared responsibility that we have. He told us that in order to stop carbon emissions, we all have to be willing to change our carbon footprint, to make better choices for the environment.
One topic JP talked to us about stood out to me: the social media advantage we have today. With one well-crafted message, we can raise awareness of these human rights issues. He also talked to us about how people working in harsh conditions or sending their children to work need to do this in order to make money; they send their children to work just so they can get by on a dollar or two a day. He told us that we have to help these people and try to understand their motives before we try to change them. JP taught us that if we work towards helping these people, we know we are heading in the right direction when we start by focusing on smaller issues, those that apply to every individual.