I may never return to my hometown. I grew up in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean on Kwajalein. There were many strange things about living on an island that was approximately 6 square miles. I spent my childhood living two minutes from what I am convinced is the most beautiful beach in the world. We’re talking clearer, warmer, cleaner water than Hawaii, folks. There were no privately owned vehicles, so we rode bikes to school and the only grocery store on the island. I graduated in a class of 19, which was huge for the school. We didn’t have cell phones, and we got high speed internet island-wide my senior year of high school.
But the strangest thing of all is, undoubtedly, that the place I am from will someday be swallowed whole by the ocean. As sea levels rise due to climate change, the Marshall Islands will vanish underwater.
Living in paradise makes you painfully aware of how much there is to lose in this world. From the time that I was young, I can remember classmates, particularly those who were Marshallese becoming very active in working to keep the Marshalls above water. Many of these people now work in the government or as activists, and head projects to help fight against climate change.
Activism comes in a wide array of forms from people of all ages. On page 32, you’ll find a story about those in Columbia who are trying to make a difference. Spanning ages 9 to 66, these people have arranged marches, worked for policy change and more. They’re educators and future politicians, lobbyists and organizers. What they all have in common is a desire to do good.
I hope their stories remind you that if you want something to change, you have the power to try to change it, no matter your situation. While the Marshall Islands might be in trouble, the Marshallese aren’t going down without a fight and neither is Columbia. In the end, that just might make all the difference.