idobi’s 2020 Valedictorian Essay: Don’t Go Breaking Our Planet

by Claire Jung of New Hyde Park Memorial High School By | June 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Climate change is not a lie, do not let our planet die! 

Climate change is not a lie, do not let our planet die! 

Climate change is not a lie, do not let our planet die! 

The chants reverberated around me so loudly that I couldn’t even hear my own voice in the mix as we all became one. On Friday, September 20th, my friend and I joined thousands of other activists in New York City for the Global Climate Strike. Never before have I felt so invigorated by being a part of something bigger than myself. We heard stories of people who had travelled from all over the world to be there. We met kids younger than us who had been striking for months at that point. It was inspiring, but disheartening, to see how childhoods had been altered by the changes in our climate and the inaction from our governments. As I stood crushed in the throngs of people and listened to the stories of victims of natural disasters and the pleads of Native peoples, I realized I was living history. Standing amongst people my age that feel the same desire to right the wrongs of those in power, my place in the world felt real and substantial. 

Of course, it’s hard to keep that determination up in my day to day life. As a student, it’s easy to become complacent with the ways of the world and fall into the trap that I’m too young to make a difference. Some of my peers laugh at me when I talk about climate justice, and for all the activism I see and partake in, nothing seems to change. It makes me wonder: Is this anger worth it? Do my individual efforts matter? Can anyone even hear me? 

But then I realize, who would I be if I didn’t try? And if the whole world is shouting, that’s gotta mean something. 

I channel this passion into my artwork. I believe art can be an incredibly strong
force in speaking out about issues, as visuals can carry messages that are quick yet impactful. I want to push people to think critically about their place in the world. I will be going to college to pursue a degree in communication design with the
hopes that I can use art to invoke emotions so strong that people feel the need
to take action. 

As part of our idobi Class of 2020 Punk & Circumstance: Graduation Kickback last month, we put out a call for essays from high school and college graduates for the chance to be crowned idobi’s 2020 Valedictorian and win a $1000 scholarship. Claire Jung, of New Hyde Memorial High School, won our hearts with her powerful and moving piece about climate change. Congratulations to our new idobi Valedictorian!