Four Pleasanton teens are off in Japan this week, meeting with leaders of eight countries and presenting their solutions to such issues as global warming, child poverty and infectious diseases.
The teens, Manogna Manne, Avani Jariwala, Jamie Vellinger and Matthias McCoy-Thompson, all students at Amador Valley High School, were selected recently by UNICEF to represent the United States at the Junior 8 Summit, held in Japan this year. The J8 Summit is a youth event linked to the G8 Summit, enabling teens 13-17 to get involved in topics that concern G8 countries and the global community as a whole. The team, which is being accompanied by Amador world history teacher Chris Murphy, left Pleasanton on Monday. They have an action-packed 10-day schedule there that also includes some sightseeing.
During their trip, the team, which calls itself "Volens et potens," meaning "willing and able," will meet with seven teams representing Barbados, Cote d'Ivoire, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and South Africa. On Monday, the Volens et potens will meet G8 leaders, including President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
The team will be giving presentations on the topics of global warming and climate change, poverty and development, and child survival, infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS. Manne said she found out about the J8 opportunity because of her interest in working with UNICEF. The group researched topics based on the contest requirements and sent in an essay and video clip. During spring break, they found out they were in the top 16 and in May, they were told they had been picked to represent the U.S. Manne, Jariwala and McCoy-Thompson are in Murphy's world history class and Vellinger is in Ryan Templeman's world history class at Amador.
"I've always been interested in the world and world issues," Manne said when asked why she wanted to participate in the J8.
Vellinger said her interest in world affairs was due to her parents, who took her family to Baja California to give humanitarian aid in orphanages.
Vellinger said she thinks the summit will be "a great way to get our ideas out there and have an impact on the world."
While a trip like this would be costly, fortunately UNICEF, Japanese hotels and participating countries are footing the teams' expenses.
For the past few months, the team has been preparing for their lofty mission. While they will be assessing the topics' problems, they'll also be presenting their solutions, something the team agrees is extremely important to any future change. G8 leaders will listen to the teams' ideas to decide whether they would be interested in forwarding them. They've also traveled to New York to receive training on cultural traditions as well as how to handle questions from the world media.