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by Justine Hudock
Student Community Engagement, Knovva Academy

Saara L. — where do you begin except by stating (silently thanking that this is the internet and no one can see your mouth hanging open) that this thirteen-year-old from India has already participated in over thirty Model UN conferences? Is already pounding out quotable tidbits like “Sustainable action can only occur if you are aware of your surroundings and inform people around you about it”? Already reads books by the impenetrable American political scientist John Mearsheimer, whose last name is almost too much to get through?

After reading this interview, you’ll know you can’t say anything about Saara without starting the sentence by shaking your head and thanking all forces of nature that kids like this are still being made. You’ll finish the interview knowing that those “forces of nature” are actually the drive and spirit of the kid herself.

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? 

Saara L.: Hi! I’m Saara and I’m from Indore in India, and I’m in eighth grade! A fun fact about me is that I can do the splits!

JH: How did you become interested/involved in climate change/sustainability? 

SL: I first became interested as a kid, I believe that to take action one must be aware. So, as a kid, I loved reading about environmental sustainability and I also researched governmental actions, that’s how I got interested in debates, Model UN and G20 events! I started working towards awareness and taking solid action a few months ago when I applied and joined the Friday’s For Future movement in India as a content creator to spread awareness on social media! 

JH: How does sustainability influence your decisions? To what extent does your interest in climate change inform your goals (perhaps for a future career, or simply in how you purchase/consume/behave) or who you are as a person? 

SL: I believe that as well as taking green action such as reducing the use of plastic in households, it will slowly become the responsibility of all of us to also go the extra mile and speak out for change especially on an industrial scale. The climate will become a responsibility for everyone and no matter what field you are in your actions should be sustainable. When I grow up I would really like to work towards public policy as well, but I do know whatever field any 21st-century child goes into will definitely take sustainable actions!

JH: What advice do you have for other students who may be interested in following a similar path toward environmental friendliness and mindfulness? 

SL: As someone new on the path, I would say the biggest thing you can do is educate yourself and then the people around you. Sustainable action can only function if you are aware of your surroundings and inform people around you about it. Take small steps towards a greener path, you could be someone with a passion for art and maybe create some pieces about the environment for awareness or you could be a writer and post stories or articles about sustainability on social media! The path you pave for yourself is completely up to you and with small steps we can go towards a cleaner and greener future for all of us! 

JH: What were some key takeaways from your experience at the Climate Change summit? 

SL: The summit is a really good opportunity for students to learn better communication and research. The talks were especially insightful and gave me a fresh perspective on the whole situation, it helps spark creativity and dive into challenging subjects like sustainable investing with a step by step approach for learning. The opportunities at the summit are endless and you can definitely take away a lot from this event! 

JH: What was your favourite part of the Summit? Ex., friends made, connecting to other kids around the world, the speakers…? Explain, please!

SL: Like everyone else I loved meeting and making friends from all around the world as well as the talks by renowned professors. But one thing I really appreciated was the effort by the Knovva staff, from arranging ice breakers to game nights to always being there for the delegates if we ever had any trouble navigating through the summit, the Knovva staff definitely went the extra mile to make sure the students were always looked after. 

JH: What do you do for other extracurriculars? Do you have a blog, a popular Instagram, etc.? Anything from academic-based stuff, to sports, or other recreational fun! 

SL: Since a kid, I have always been a debater. I really enjoy Model UN and other governmental simulations and have had the opportunity to partake and be the chairperson for several conferences. I enjoy reading more about international politics, I am currently reading Guns, Germ and Steel and recently read The Tragedy of Great Power Politics by John Mearshemheir which were 2 great reads! I also enjoy painting and also have an art Instagram account (@saaradoesart)! 

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? 

SL: The first and one of the most important skills I developed was communication and collaboration. As we grow up and have the opportunity to work with people all around the world we must learn to find common ground, and this is something we learn perfectly at the summit. People who want to work in IR or government like me also get several opportunities to actually have an impact as well as learn how real-life procedures work simply and with fun which will definitely help me in my future! 

JH: If you could invent something that would make life easier for people (perhaps climate change-related…), what would you invent? 

SL: For a long time I have also wanted to work towards helping people in migration crisis as well as conflict struck areas. I would like to work to develop simpler and easy to harness technology for areas where there is a lack of power and conventional forms of energy, such as portable solar batteries! 

JH: Fill in the blanks. The wisest thing anyone ever told me was ____ and it helped me to ____.

SL: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” and it helped me get the courage I needed to take action and pursue my passions. 

JH: What is one goal you would like to achieve in the next five years (personal or professional)? 

SL: In the next five years, I would like to work more towards learning languages as well as learn more about government and international relations. I would also personally like to aim towards going zero waste! 

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? 

SL: I have had quite a few opportunities to be a leader including discussion panels, round squares, as a part of my school’s student body and being a part of the executive board or a delegate in several model UN conferences. 

JH: Any college plans laid down yet? Intended major/minor? Dream school? 

SL: My intended field of interest is International Relations with maybe a minor in migration, gender studies or public policy. My dream school(s) are the Jackson Institute of International Study, LSE and Science Po. 

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

SL: I have done over 30 Model UN conferences! I am also left-handed and a thrill seeker!

Favorite Five 

Class at school?

History (I love studying the world and the past and how it brought us to where we are today!) 

Book? 

I love so many, I cannot really choose! 

Food?

Ramen (feels homely and cozy to me, a perfect dish!) 

Color? 

Sage green (makes me feel calm and zen!) 

Quote?

“The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln. Such a powerful quote by such a powerful figure, it gives me hope for the future!

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