by Justine Hudock
Student Community Engagement, Knovva Academy
Before we give you any more information: Iris, reporting from Taiwan, is a podcaster. From that we can already infer several things: She’s on the cutting edge, she’s an early adopter (among her age group, anyway), and she got the gift for gab. Her name is Siri spelled backwards, as Iris excitedly pointed out to me… let’s hope her auditory recognition surpasses the much-to-be-desired little devil misinterpreting every iMessage I’ve ever sent.
Ahem. Iris is an ice skater (no slopes for skiing near her, or she’d do the whole winter sports gambit), believes “everyone is amazing in their own way” (classic good vibes there), and her dream schools, Brown University and UCLA, are both in the States! I’d write her recommendation in a second. Let’s hope this interview will help you get there, Iris! How about a post-interview reunion after you get your acceptance letters back?
Give Iris a round of applause for her commendation as an Exceptional Delegate, and lend your eyes to her post-lauding interview!
Justine Hudock: Give us the rundown! What’s your name, where are you from, what year are you in school… and what’s a silly, fun fact about you?
Iris C.: My name is Iris, currently a junior in Taiwan. I was born in the United States but moved to Taiwan when I was 7. Have you ever noticed that my name is “Siri” when said backwards?
JH: I didn’t notice that! So cool! Maybe that indicates tech prowess on your end. Speaking of prowess, how did you become interested in climate change and sustainability?
IC: Ever since learning about Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist, I became interested in climate change, grew conscious about my daily actions, and wanted to advocate the seriousness of climate change myself. I started writing essays related to climate change and global warming, and even tried to start a Friday For Future club (created by Greta Thunberg) to spread awareness.
JH: How does sustainability influence your decisions? To what extent does your interest in climate change inform your goals or who you are as a person?
IC: I learned that beef produces more greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide than other meat products, so I persuaded my mom to cook less beef meals. Now we only eat steak around once every three months. I’ve also become more mindful of my daily actions such as turning off the lights, use plastic bags only if I forget to bring my own recyclable bags, and also attend MG20!
JH: What advice do you have for other students who may be interested in following a similar path toward environmental friendliness and mindfulness?
IC: You might not think that your small actions make a difference because you can’t see the physical “change,” but all actions count. You might not be able to go on climate strike or always use public transportation, however, small things such as turning off the lights will make an impact when we do it all together. The mentality shouldn’t be that your small actions won’t matter to the world, instead, it should be that you want to change our current situation as much as you can.
JH: What were some key takeaways from your experience at the Climate Change Summit?
IC: I learned that despite ethnic and background differences, people can still communicate and make great achievements together. I find it amazing to be able to make friends in a matter of days during the Summit and realize that we young people can have an impact on the world. The experience also got me thinking that if world leaders can put down their political differences (as we did), the issue of climate change might be solved much more efficiently.
JH: What was your favorite part about the Summit? Explain, please!
IC: My favorite part of the Summit is actually unintentional and not in the agenda. During our first ever Round Table Meeting, my team (the Russia Delegation of Cohort B) was quick to finish discussions and make our decisions, so we were left with around 20 minutes before our next activity. In these 20 minutes, we were able to understand each other better, a true “icebreaker.” We chatted about COVID policies in our countries, compared school agendas, discussed personal interests… It was very incredible how just like this, we were able to become friends right away.
JH: What do you do for other extracurriculars?
IC: I love learning new languages and new instruments. To me, they are ways to communicate my thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, I created a podcast with a few friends, established a social media account called “Be Aware” that posts facts about endangered animals, I’m a member of the swim team, and I’m in a couple of clubs. An extracurricular I wish I could have is ice skating and skiing. Since it doesn’t snow in Taiwan, there’s only a few places with ice skating rinks, there’s nowhere we can ski!
JH: Looking ahead, how do you hope to use the skills and experiences you’ve gained at the Model G20 Summit in your career or future schooling?
IC: I have grown more confident in my public speaking and ability to communicate with anyone from anywhere. This’ll help me to be able to adapt to an environment and create social bonds more quickly.
JH: If you could invent something that would make life easier for people (perhaps climate change-related), what would you invent?
IC: An automatic trash sorting machine. There are people who get confused about recycling, and others who don’t recycle at all. This machine will do it for them without making mistakes. It’ll reduce unnecessary trash and promote reusing products.
JH: Fill in the blanks. The wisest thing anyone ever told me was _____ and it helped me to _____.
IC: The wisest thing anyone ever told me was “everyone has their own talent, yours is just not math” and it helped me to accept the truth and not pressure myself too hard with my math scores. Of course, I still worked hard in my pre-calculus class, but I learned to focus and to be proud of what I’m good at such as public speaking and leadership skills. You need to make the best out of what you have. Everyone is amazing in their own way.
JH: What is one goal you would like to achieve in the next five years (personal or professional)?
IC: My professional goal would be to attend a good university and have internships that can enhance my leadership skills even further. My personal goal would be to get a dog once I’m living on my own.
JH: Do you have any other opportunities for leadership in your life? If so, what is your perspective on good leadership? What does it mean to evolve as a leader?
IC: Being vice president for our school’s mG20 in Action club, as well as many other positions such as president of Student Council and treasurer of Key Club are all opportunities that I can train my leadership skills. My motto is “Be a leader, not a boss.” I insist on hearing everybody’s opinions and try to make every decision that includes the majority’s support.
JH: Any college plans laid down yet? Intended major or minor? Dream school?
IC: I’m starting to create my longlist of universities I want to attend. My dream school is UCLA and Brown University (there’s a reason they are called “dreams” though). I wish to study psychology as I want to use the knowledge to help society and the first step to that will be to understand people.
JH: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
IC: I’m fairly good at imitating different accents. It’s like a secret talent that I don’t like to show. My classmates will also be surprised to learn that I act like a crazy singer at home since in school, I’m this elegant, serious schoolgirl.
Class at school?
AP US History. Unlike other history teachers, our APUSH teacher makes history exciting and the class engaging by teaching history like a storybook.
I can’t choose between Origin by Dan Brown or Becoming by Michelle Obama.
Dark chocolate. I always keep a piece in my backpack.
“I’m a Hufflepuff.”