After “the,” “and,” “am,” and personal nouns, I’d bet anyone the most common word on Knovva’s blog was “Tara.” The Boston native has been featured on this site more than just about anyone, including any of our other most fervent young scholars, and the craziest thing is that her overwhelming presence here actually makes tolerable sense.
She’s not a goody-two-shoes going out of her way to take opportunities that her peers may have been just as worthy of. She’s only just now beginning a Model G20 in Action club at her school, with her friend and fellow Deciding Committee member Aria S. — no faux-precocity there, check. She’s certainly got more than enough on her plate between the rigorous academic schedule of a young whiz, both in and out of school. She’s not hogging the spotlight; the spotlight seems to hog her.
Tara returned to Model G20 for July’s A Healthier Earth and Beyond Summit. In her second run around the DC member park, she was chosen — again — as the Committee’s Choice Deciding Committee member, one out of twenty. She’s been interviewed here so many times we mourn the confidentiality of her sensitive online accounts’ security questions.
As I told her, I will tell you: I hope I asked questions that give us a glimpse into Tara that we haven’t already beaten to deflation. Give Tara a round of applause for her continuingly fantastic contributions to Model G20, and lend your eyes to her interview.
Justine Hudock: Tara — you go to a lot of our summits. So, I’m leaning toward the presumption that you attended this Summit for the cachet of attending this Summit. But, tell me anyway, if you have a genuine reflection on this: Did you go to this Summit more interested in global health or space exploration? And did you leave still preferring that topic? Or did you flip?
Tara O.: I think it kind of flips midway, to be honest… both of my parents come from a really medical background, so that rubbed off on me from an early age. Medicine and global health have always been things that have piqued my interest. I went into the Summit being like, “yes, global health is what I’m interested in.” I’m going to learn more about it, which I did, of course, but space exploration did pique my interest too, because it’s not something initially that I would have given much thought to. Sure, I thought it was interesting, going to the moon and all that, but learning in depth — especially with the keynote speaker, things like space debris and the feasibility of space travel — I found that to be way more interesting than I expected, which was a really nice surprise.
JH: Yeah, it is cool. All the other summit kids who I’ve talked to were like you. I assumed that space exploration would be the most interesting to our Delegates, but, it really isn’t — and unsurprisingly. It was a dream of a different generation. I guess all of us just sort of took space travel for granted growing up. Anyhow, moving on: Do you have a particular experience from this Summit?
TO: I think it was the rapport I had with the other DC members. This Summit — for some reason, I don’t know why — we just got along so, so well, to the point where we were just joking with each other and all of that. My favorite experience from the Summit was just being with them all the time.
JH: Do you have a goal, personal or professional, that you would love to achieve in the next five years? The asterisk with this question is, do you have a wildest dream? Let’s say the stars align, and you get exactly what you’ve always wanted sometime in the next five years. What would that be?
TO: For some reason, I really want to visit a bunch of eastern European countries. Bosnia, especially, has always been unique to me for some reason. So: visit Bosnia, I guess. There’s a lot of pretty castles!
JH: What’s one field that you’re really interested in, but that you just think you’d be totally rubbish at if you attempted to pursue it?
TO: Playing the guitar. People have tried to teach me so many times, and I’m just so bad at it; my fingers are just uncoordinated. And it’s difficult, but I love it when you listen to acoustic songs, and then they have this really, really amazing guitar solo. And I’m like, “oh, wow, I wish I could do that.” But it’s not happening.
JH: You mentioned that you really enjoyed the rapport that you had with your colleagues at Model G20 this season. What is your favorite quality to have in a colleague? What do you just love to work beside?
TO: Somebody that’s adaptable, because I think that plans change and things change all the time. So if you’re able to just put aside… not your pride, but I guess, stubbornness, and you’re able to work together to find some sort of solution that benefits everybody, I think that’s a really good quality to have.
JH: As we speak, what’s one world issue that’s really important to you?
TO: Well, my mother’s from Burma; I’m half Burmese. And at the moment, if everybody hasn’t heard, there’s this huge military coup that’s been going on for quite a few months now. And I just think that, at least initially, everybody was sort of talking about it. But now, I seem to hear nothing, nowhere on the news about it, even though if you read Burmese news, obviously, all that’s being reported is how many killings are being perpetrated by the Burma government. It should be addressed, because there are so many different human rights violations going on there.
JH: If you could travel back in time three years, what advice would you give yourself?
TO: I guess that… you don’t need to rely on anybody else besides yourself. That you are the most reliable person in your life. Go with whatever you truly believe in, do whatever you have to do to stick to your principles.
JH: At this point in your life, what’s one skill you feel you know well enough that you could teach to another person?
TO: I think Model UN. I sort of do teach that at the moment, at my school. I’m the Vice President of the middle school and the high school Model UN units, and a lot of that is just teaching others how Model UN works: what are the rules, all the different vocabulary, training them on the processes. I mean, I’ve been doing it since I was 11 years old. So, you know, I’ve had a good couple of years to learn my way around.
JH: You’re a junior in high school now, so the college application rush is heating up. You live in Boston, Knovva territory, and we know from past interviews that your dream destinations are Harvard or MIT — also local Boston schools. That understood, do you mind not leaving the place you grew up to go to college, since going away to college is usually a central point of going to college for a lot of kids? Does it bother you at all?
TO: No, not at all. It’s nice to be around your family, and I’ll be living in a dorm, so it’ll be a change any way I approach it.
Favorite musician — in middle school?
One Direction, for sure.
Room in your house?
Of course, my bedroom.
Character in film?
Eames, from Inception. He’s a little bit irrelevant, but I don’t know, for some reason, I just love him.
I abuse the most random emojis for no reason whatsoever. I think I’m gonna go with… one of the cat ones. Probably, the cat that has the kissy face. It just fits any context.