Our young person of the month is Sena Chang! Sena is a 16-year-old Japanese-Korean activist who was inspired to take action after witnessing a politically polarized climate in which judgments are drawn along racial, political, and religious lines, and dialogues across the aisle are stymied in an effort to foster cross-cultural and cross-political dialogue in an increasingly polarized world.
Read her amazing story below and be inspired!
Sena is an activist and a visionary. In the summer of 2020, Sena founded The Global Youth Review- one of the very first youth-led literary magazines in Japan. Named a finalist for The Bizz USA’s Small Business Spotlight Competition, The Global Youth Review is currently read in over 100 countries and has reached a global readership of 70,000+ as of February 2022. A writer and artist recognized by the New York Times and Sundress Publications, Sena was invited to the International Young Researchers’ Conference in 2021 to share her work in cultivating a global community of youth through a literary platform.
As a result of her work at The Global Youth Review, she has also been invited to the UN’s ECOSOC Youth Forum on behalf of the UN Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and has represented the magazine at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women in March of 2022. In addition to her role at the magazine, she was recently named a City Changer for the UN Urban World Campaign, serves as the National Policy Director at the Policy Initiatives Institute, and is an Organizer for Fridays for Future Japan. When she closes her eyelids at night, she dreams of education reform and a healthier political climate.
On How She Began
In 2020 and 2021, Sena began to closely research and examine the widespread protests in her community and others. This was when she realized that a platform to amplify youth voices was critical in mending racial and cultural divides; in politics, it is often those that have the loudest and biggest platforms that have the power to change the narrative. So Sena rose to the occasion and combined her two passions—politics and creative writing—in order to create a political literary magazine.
With democracies and governments sinking under the vices of party politics and polarization, Sena believes that the ability to talk to others across the political aisle is important, now more than ever. She also firmly believes that it is only when politics is approached with open-mindedness, respect, and a willingness to compromise that elected leaders can have a shot at solving issues such as climate change, world hunger, and educational inequality. Thus, providing a space in which the leaders of the next generation are able to amplify their voices is more than critical in today’s era and has acted as a key mission that The Global Youth Review which Sena founded has tried to uphold from its very inception.
Her Plans for her Project
Both personally and for The Global Youth Review, Sena hopes to continue promoting open political dialogue and dream of a future in which the political arena reaches a degree of partisanship where discussion and debate are approached with respect and not animosity. She feels that whether it be our news cables or the Senate floor, it seems that partisanship has reached its apex, fueling an “us vs. them” mentality and fostering even more divisiveness within her political sphere. Sena Chang pledges to continue standing firm in her belief that it is possible to mend these divides by encouraging dialogue between partisan individuals, which she believes is the first step to a healthier political climate.
Sena says that she sees The Global Youth Review becoming a multilingual platform that is widely accessible across the globe in just 5 years. Currently, their efforts lie in translating the magazine and site to ensure that there are no linguistic barriers for their audience in hearing the political voices the magazine focuses on highlighting. Basically, globalization and outreach stand at the forefront of the magazine today and are both elements of the magazine that Sena hopes will evolve uniquely in the next five years.
She also plans to initiate partnerships with the Japanese Ministry of Education and local school districts in the future, in order to integrate a more civics-based curriculum into the education system and thus, promote open political dialogue amongst youth.
On Her Obstacles and How She Overcame them
Organization is the backbone to a productive work atmosphere and this is something that Sena has learned from engaging with organizations on both local and national levels. Whether it be Google Calendar or Notion, having a system of organization that is both manageable and productive is one of the best working habits she has gained which has helped her manage the day-to-day operations of The Global Youth Review.
Her Words of Advice to the Youth
I have met so many youths that are afraid to take the first step toward building their small business or initiate their first fundraiser. Use that fear of failure and transform it into the fear of having not played your role in society. The fear of not having left your mark. The fear of not having done your utmost best in order to advance society. Use that fear to propel your passions forward and bring your dreams to fruition.
Who will be the next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. Oh! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader, or subscriber! Share!