by Justine Hudock
Student Community Engagement, Knovva Academy
Noah B. is a veteran of the Summit community: Climate Change and the Future of Humanity makes lucky number three in this California sophomore’s satchel of Knovva-filled weekends. His eloquence belies his age: How can this kid only be in his early teens? And already honored by our Summit Committee as nothing less than one in a handful of Exceptional Delegates in our past roster of over 400 kids?
After our conversation — peppered and salted with reitrations of his love for food, consumption, and creation — the only conclusion that seemed possible is that this kid is bursting with the healthy fats and creative gray cells of a lifetime gourmet that can, à la Ratatouille, turn even a rodent into a remarkably cogent young mind. Noah, if you’re reading this: That parallel was meant to be a compliment.
Noah is a traveler, a seeker, a writer, (though not a SpongeBob SquarePants watcher) and a credit to his generation in more ways than just his dedication to learning as much about climate change as possible in order to fight it the best he can.
Justine Hudock: First things first, give us the rundown. Tell me, please: what your name is, and where you’re from, what year you are in school, and then a silly, fun fact about you.
Noah B.: Sure thing. So my name is Noah Braunstein. I’m from Belmont, California, which is about a half an hour from San Francisco, and I’m a sophomore in high school. Something maybe, not silly, but just fun about me is that: I’m a foodie. And I do food reviews for my city’s Chamber of Commerce. And I did that before the pandemic. I’m not currently doing that. But I hope if I can do that again, that would be cool.
JH: How did you become interested slash involved in climate change education and sustainability education?
NB: I’ve attended two previous Knovva summits before this one, and I really enjoyed what Knovva is all about: you know, getting to interact with others and open to all the new topics and themes that I’ve been able to attend. International interconnection is something that, like, climate change, I’m aware of, but don’t know a whole lot about or have a whole ton of experience in. So I valued this opportunity, perhaps most, as a chance to learn more. And because of my past enjoyment with these summits, this definitely was another vehicle that allowed me to add a lot to my knowledge of the world.
JH: Like you said, You weren’t necessarily a huge participant in the climate change or sustainability space. But, even in the smallest ways, how do you think sustainability influenced your decisions pre-Summit? Are you, for instance, are you a reusable water bottle sort of guy? Do you try to prioritize turning off electronics that you’re not using? Basically, to what extent does climate change inform the decisions that you’re making or even your future goals?
NB: So I think you know, we all can say that throughout school, we’ve learned how to turn off the water when we’re not using it and lights and recycling properly, which are all things you know that I do. As you mentioned, I do use water bottles that are reusable. And I do have a strong passion for a possible career in media; particularly a possible career in the broadcast news space. So I hope that, by being informed about topics like climate change and sustainability, I can somehow try to include that as part of my message
JH: Maybe a headlining news anchor? Is there a specific area of the news sector that’s been calling you?
NB: I think my answer would be just, I’d be fortunate enough to kind of get my foot in the door wherever I can, if that’s out in the field in the coldest weather, the hottest weather or at the desk, just anything, just to get experienced and to just try try new things.
JH: Do you think you might minor in film just so you have the broadcast experience when you get out of college?
NB: That’s definitely crossed my mind. And I think, you know, as long as I still remain interested in that direction, I definitely, as you said, will take the necessary steps to major and minor and whatever necessary to kind of follow that avenue.
JH: What are your key takeaways from your experience at the last summit? I know you said you’ve done a couple before. So it can be a repeat epiphany that has come to you after each summit, or it could be related to climate change, and how you’re going to change your behavior, or it can just be like, it was really cool being around a bunch of international students.
NB: This is an answer that takes on many different parts. Again, as always, it is a really phenomenal thing to get to work with and meet so many different people. And it’s, it’s cool to interact with those who are not on your timezone, because you get to learn about them, and where they’re from, for them to share their stories, and just interacting with like minded people from around the world, I think this gives us an outlet to realize that we’re all like minded, we want the same similar things, we want to see change in any of the pressing issues that affect our communities in our world, and to have these conferences and as an outlet to do so. And also having the opportunity to roleplay, and understand better what real countries and what real politicians have to go through.
And this, you know, being enforced by the speakers kind of telling us how it’s not too late to reverse course, and take the necessary steps to create change with climate change, or whatever topic it may be. And it was also very cool to portray the Minister of Transportation and come up with joint initiatives, which I think are really underutilized thing, and something that should be really kind of thought about and utilized a lot more.
JH: On that theme, then: you were Minister of Transportation. Was that a field that was totally new to you? Were you just sort of thrown into it and had to learn from the bottom up? Or was it anything that struck a chord, you’ve heard about this before, and you were learning but with a bank of basic experience?
NB: I don’t have any previous experience within transportation before I was thrown into this past summit. So it was, I would say, new to a degree. But I think just the past experience within the past two Summits, learning how to make policies and, you know, things similar to that, that previous experience definitely did help with that side of drafting policy. And just speaking at the ministerial meetings, and then the final minister presentation.
JH: You already mentioned that you are a foodie and you write for your Chamber of Commerce food column. Do you do any other extracurriculars? Do you have a blog, anything academic based, sports, other recreational activities? Tell me about it.
NB: I continue to pursue the foodie side. I do cook as much as I can, when I can. And I feel like it’s deeper than just the word food. It’s a story and it’s a tradition to kind of get closer with friends and family. So I definitely value that.
I used to play sports but now I just kind of do that for fun. You know, kicking the soccer ball and throwing you know, the baseball out in my backyard, which I’m fortunate to have. I’m a big giant San Francisco Giants fan. So watching them when they’re in season is great as well. And then you know, well, with my passion for the news, I always watch everyday just a set list of news channels and news shows. So I think the more involved that, you know, like my age can be with these current fast breaking developments every day, you know, the stronger and better that we all can become, with how I like interacted and up to date with where the world is at.
JH: You mentioned that food has a history with you. Do you have a significant ethnic heritage? Is there a favorite cuisine, slash, country of cuisines that you prefer to make or that you find the most fun to make?
NB: I don’t necessarily have one favorite. Because it’s like, what, why choose when you can have the opportunity to make so many. But I’m fortunate to come from a side of Chinese heritage and a Jewish background as well. It’s a very cool and very diverse mix. And I’m very honored just to have two different sides of family to pull inspiration from.
JH: That is amazing — you must be a dumpling master! Um, okay, another fun question. You haven’t mentioned that you’re like a techie sort of person, but even so, if you could invent something that would make a life easier, slash more interesting for people, what would you invent?
NB: So actually, this is kind of funny, because it carries from what I just talked about, at this summit, which was creating global research hubs for like, sustainable food production and green transportation. And utilizing, like the top scientists from each country, they just have one, one shared place, one space, to kind of just collaborate and work together, creating also a cost efficient space, just to kind of share knowledge and research and working together instead of competing together. And there obviously would be, you know, political hurdles with this. So if there weren’t really strenuous political ramifications with it, I think that would definitely be something cool to see down the road in the future.
JH: You’re idealizing this as a digital space? Or would you prefer that it was an in-person, physical space?
NB: Definitely an in-person, physical space.
JH: Nice. Okay, fill in the blanks for me: The wisest thing anyone told me was ____, and it has helped me to ____.
NB: So I think this will kind of take on the shape of paraphrasing, but from many people, like friends and family, you know, parents and grandparents have always told me to try to live life in the best way possible that you want to, to experience as much as you can. So that, years down the road from now, when you’re older, you don’t have regrets. And you can kind of think about what you did, and be happy about it. And I’ve just been fortunate enough to travel the US a lot, travel the world a lot, and just try so many diverse and different experiences.
JH: You mentioned your goal of potentially one day building a space for people to collaborate in. Tell me another goal you’d like to achieve in the next five years — that could be personal, academic, professional, whatever strikes you.
NB: Sure. So this one is a little different, but I think, you know, again, with the pandemic still raging, basically just to graduate from high school and develop more of a concrete path and plan towards college and you know, the future: a future job because I think this is the pandemic has obviously created a lot of uncertainty and worry for so many in so many different ways and forms. I’m very interested in a lot of things reporting in the news, but how do I get there? So getting through school and having a better foundation, I guess you could say for understanding how I develop my, you know, path going forward from here on out.
JH: So you were a leader at the last Summit, you had a higher role than most of the other delegates. Give me your perspective on what good leadership is. What does it mean to evolve as a leader, and in a leadership role?
NB: Outside of the summit, I currently do have another big kind of leadership role. I’m in a County Youth Commission, where I’ve had the ability to not only like lead meetings, but also go from the other side of the spectrum to provide input and to listen as just a member. And I think my perspective on what good leadership really looks like, can really run the gamut from having great time management to providing structure and organization for people who need it. And whether that’s providing detailed Google Docs and lists, spreadsheets, and, you know, quality written emails, charts, or data points or graphs, and also inclusion, working one on one with people, including those who might be shy and nervous and possibly introverted, but also accepting those who, you know, are outspoken and extroverted. Just incorporating everyone’s styles.
Besides that, just making sure that meetings are productive, that they are just well run, and that any events that are put on or just any big profile things are run smoothly and safely. But most importantly, allow for people to have a nice time. And I think, also, adapting and evolving as a leader can take on the qualities of changing and listening to not only yourself, but what others tell you and what would be best for you. And when you go through school and through a job and meeting new people, I just feel like I myself personally will have a deeper, broader, more complex understanding of just how to lead better over time.
JH: So, you’ve surprised me a lot already with other things you’ve answered my questions with. But is there anything else about yourself, that you haven’t mentioned so far, that people might be surprised to learn about you?
NB: I would say that, basically all my life, I’ve always been like an “adult person.” I’ve never really wanted to hang out with people my age. And I think that’s just kind of, due in part to the fact that, my dad used to be the the mayor of the city that I live in, and just being around the people that I idolized most, to kind of be immersed fully in local city politics and just wanting to be someone who can help to create change.
Class at school?
History. It’s more than just a subject and a word. It’s a deep and long story of what you know, people’s lives are about. It’s a story of triumph and tragedy and what shapes us and also helps to define us who we are. And without history, you know, just we wouldn’t really be who we all are. So it’s very key and crucial that we can embrace it and have it It hasn’t be something that’s cherished in our schools to look back on the past so we know how to not repeat previous mistakes and how we can create a better brighter future for all.
It’s called Burn Notice: The Giveaway, by Todd Goldberg. It’s a book about the show called Burn Notice, which is a spy who’s been burned and relies on other people, his friends and family, helping him to put his life back together with a lot of drama and action, and exciting moments along the way. It’s a thrilling book.
I would have to say, waffles, because they’re actually I like to get really creative with them. I don’t keep them the same every time I switch it up from savory and sweet. And sometimes I make them in a big, Belgian style. And sometimes I have this other shape-making waffle maker, which makes sea creature-shaped waffles. It really runs the gamut of my creativity and what I want on a given day.
I’ve always been an orange guy. I like oranges, the San Francisco Giants, everything orange. It also kind of really describes the way I dress and who I am. I’m just not like a big flashy person. I just like plain colors and what plain colors are all about? So orange is definitely what works best for me.
This comes from Bruce Lee: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” This ethos is something I do try to incorporate into my own life in a variety of ways. Just, to try not to cut corners and do things right. Always try to do everything to the extent of ability.