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The Hope in Our Stories

Reflections From Program Partner Global Nomads Group

It is no secret that our world is grappling with a lot right now. And due to our infinite access to news and media, we are bombarded and constantly aware of the bad news and tragedies taking place everywhere, all the time. Being inundated with negative news is starting to feel like the only available narrative that reflects our current reality, but there are other stories, and far more of them, that give us hope and provide us with comfort. There are people, young and old, who are doing the work in their local communities and in their countries to stand up for humanity. It is our job at Global Nomads Group and Students Rebuild to collect and share dynamic stories of young people that connect our humanity, grow our empathy, and give us hope for the future. Our recently concluded Ocean Challenge was no different.

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We first traveled to the state of Georgia in the United States where we met Hannah Testa of Hannah4Change. Hannah is an ocean and wildlife advocate who works with local schools, restaurants, and politicians as well as her peers to spread awareness about plastics pollution. Despite living far from an ocean, Hannah is thinking of all of us when she speaks about the danger to our environment, and to our oceans in particular, caused by plastic use. Her local community work has become so powerful that she travels the world to spread awareness and inspire change in our plastic use habits.

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After learning from Hannah, we ventured down to the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Here we captured the story of Veta Wade, the founder of Fish ‘n Fins, a non-profit aimed at creating knowledgeable, passionate, ocean stewards who will be future leaders in ocean conservation. We witnessed a community of people who are directly affected by the consequences of our environmental and plastic-related actions as explained by Hannah. For example, the plastic straws that Hannah advocates against in Georgia can find their way to the Montserrat coastline. So we found that in alignment with Hannah’s efforts, Veta is preparing the next generation of marine biologists, engineers, and advocates who will continue to preserve the health of the ocean and environment from their place in the world.

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Our final story took us to a different area that is currently experiencing some of the more devastating effects of a rapidly changing climate. We visited the river town of Pabna, Bangladesh and met Sumon who is learning about the ocean and local river conservation on a floating playground and taking his knowledge to his village to spread awareness. The floating playgrounds and other boats belong to the organization Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha and were built by architect Mohammed Rezwan in response to increased and intensified flooding. When the floods impede access to basic services like school and health care, the boats provide a solution. So, while having to adhere to adaptive methods of living as a result of rapidly changing climate, Shuman is also learning how to protect the ocean and reduce its negative effects on his community.

Hannah, Veta, Shuman and Mohammed each play different roles in their respective local communities that have global impact. Despite the differences in their circumstances, all three of this year’s ocean stories share similarities in what they teach us. All three stories show us: - the power of youth in making positive change - how important it is to spread awareness beyond a directly affected area - the connection of human behaviors to an improving or declining ocean health - our shared connection to and responsibility for the ocean

Though the Ocean Challenge has ended and another Challenge will soon begin, we hope that these stories will continue to inspire you to take action. Over the last nine years, the stories of resilient and empathetic young people around the world have lit a path forward for all of us. Global Nomads Group and Students Rebuild are committed to finding and promoting these stories and celebrating the accomplishments of youth. We look forward to bringing you more youth, more stories, and more ways to take action in support of students everywhere!