For my team’s SEAL 2020 film, I presented the topic of “Lack of educational opportunities offered to Latinx students” which was a topic that every team member felt was significant to our generation. In spite of the fact that our experiences were dissimilar, we all agreed that the educational system in the US did not lay out adequate information for students to prepare for circumstances like pandemics, wildfires, racial injustices, and environmental issues. For example, today we still learn from history textbooks that were written decades ago, resulting in outdated, unreliable, and flawed information and we are taught from the perspective of the white man who conquered the land, rather than learning about the experiences of the people who had already established communities and indigenous lifestyles.
It was not until high school that I was exposed to STEM activities and learned about the STEM gap (referring to the lack of women in STEM fields.) Similarly, it was not until I began doing research, about two and a half years ago, that I learned about ecological concerns (water pollution, global warming, deforestation, the green gap, soil erosion, etc.) These issues are important for all students across the world to understand, yet they are not implemented into academic curriculums. These were all issues we wished would’ve been taught to us, but were not. To learn about these topics, we had to individually and collectively seek out opportunities and knowledge.
Gen Z recognizes the need to rethink this education system. If more than one story is being told, students may have a greater understanding of what needs to be done and changed, to keep history from repeating itself.
After learning about these issues, I had to ask myself:
Where do I see these issues happening?
What issues are affecting my city?
What can I do to help solve them?
What is the city doing for our community?
Is the city informing community members about these issues?
As I thought about possible answers to those questions, I realized I did not have any solid answers. I was not prepared to answer those questions because I had no clue.
The US education system failed me, by not providing the tools, knowledge, resources, and information I needed to take action. I wanted to do something, I wanted to change the world, but I did not know where to begin.
SEAL 2020 ended up being exactly what I needed to take action. My team and I worked endlessly on a film that voiced our experiences, and what we think is integral to create change and take action.
Age 17, SEAL 2020 Participant