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Jessie L., of Shanghai, China, was born to be one of our Head of States: maybe, reader, you can already tell by Jessie’s big, smiley face, but she’s got a lot of heart. Her approach to leadership begins with empathy for those working with her. She’s grateful for the privileges she has, put in stark light over the COVID-19 pandemic, and wants to pay forward some of that fortune, now and for the rest of her life. Maybe her love for historical nonfiction (the impenetrable Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, is her favorite work, of all things…) contributes to the worldly mindfulness that’s so evident in many of our students, but seems to particularly deep, sturdy roots in this high school sophomore.

Give Jessie a big round of applause for her performance at Model G20’s 2021 July Summit, A Healthier Earth and Beyond, and lend your eyes to her interview!

Justine Hudock: What’s your name, where are you from, what year are you in school, and what’s a silly, fun fact about you?

Jessie L.: I’m Jessie from Shanghai, China. I’m a rising sophomore in high school. A fun fact about me would be that I like to memorize country capitals and flags.

JH: What was your title and country in the Summit? What did you find most interesting about designing for your country’s particular needs?

JL: I was the Head of State of South Korea! In designing the policies for this country, I especially tried to address the fact that COVID-19 has not only led to economic crises—it has also exacerbated many of South Korea’s social problems such as gender inequality and the high level of suicide. So I tried to craft policies that would take a more proactive approach towards some of South Korea’s most critical social and welfare issues. This was both interesting and challenging.

Brag Selina Meyer GIF by Veep HBO

JH: What did you come to the Summit more interested in: global health, or space exploration? Are you leaving the Summit, still more interested in that than the other, or did you flip?

JL: I came to the Summit wanting to discuss global health, and I’m proud to say that global health is still the topic that I’m more interested in! It’s just way more relevant to our current time.

JH: To what extent does your interest in either Summit topic (or both) inform your path — perhaps toward a future career, or simply in how you consume and behave in everyday life?

JL: COVID-19 has caused devastating effects on the world, with some countries collapsing into economic crises and others into health catastrophes. Many people are now ill, unemployed, and displaced. I know that I am privileged to not have suffered much from any of the effects of the pandemic, which is why I should always be grateful for what I have and the opportunities that I am given.

JH: What advice do you have for other students who may be interested in following a similar path toward worldly mindfulness — being aware of life on a global and time-transcendent scale? 

JL: Follow global news and learn more about the cultures of other countries!

JH: What was your favorite part about the Summit? 

JL: I really enjoyed communicating and making friends with people from across the world. It was nice to work together for a common cause.

JH: What else do you do outside of school that you really enjoy? Hobbies, academic extracurriculars?

JL: I serve in student government, and I also write for the school magazine. In my free time, I like to read historical nonfiction and watch movies.

JH: If you could invent one thing that would make life easier for people (perhaps related to global health or space exploration), what would you invent? 

JL: I’d invent a machine that would produce unlimited renewable energy resources. It would solve our current energy crisis without polluting the environment.

Woodsy Owl Vintage GIF by US National Archives

JH: What is one goal, personal or professional, you would love to achieve in the next five years? (Be creative! Tell us your wildest dream!)

JL: I want to do something that would make a strong positive impact on the world. Things like developing a new urban framework or creating a free educational app.

JH: What is your perspective on good leadership? What does it mean to evolve as a leader?

JL: I think a large part about being a good leader is caring about the people you serve. It’s not simply about being a good role model; you must help the people around you and lead people to work together to change the world for the better. Evolving as a leader could mean having a better self as a result of being a good leader.

JH: Any college plans laid down yet? Do you have an intended major or minor? Dream school?

JL: Sadly not yet. But I know that I will probably major in something related to social science!

JH: What might people be surprised to learn about you?

JL: That I have a twin brother! 

Favorite Five

Class at school?

History! It’s interesting to analyze past events through a modern lens.

Book?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari! It offered incredible insights on the history and future of our species.

Food?

Mango-flavored shaved ice! Makes me think of home.

Color?

Blue, probably…

Quote?From the back cover of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind: “Fire gave us power. Farming made us hungry for more. Money gave us purpose. Science made us deadly.”

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