Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2018

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Sun Youth Forum:

Gathering spurs hope for social reforms

Student representative Shalom Wundimu of Valley High School during the 61st annual Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum at the Las Vegas Convention Center Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

Student representative Shalom Wundimu of Valley High School during the 61st annual Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum at the Las Vegas Convention Center Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

Editor’s note: About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 61st annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 8. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. This essay addresses the issues covered by the America group.

Comment after comment, statistic after statistic, voice after voice, a room full of strangers quickly became a room of socially aware individuals.

During the 2017 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum, participants proposed resolutions to issues and discussed ways to prevent problems on topics like gun control, police brutality, the NFL protests, the DREAM Act and the American Dream. Dealing with controversial topics, like those discussed in my group, is difficult but valuable. We identified that different does not mean being wrong. Our overall discussion topic, America, was one that was open-ended yet informative.

As our conversations progressed, the participants began to develop emotions that helped spark and draw out the discussions. The students voiced their opinions and beliefs, along with some personal stories. Immigration brought forth different viewpoints, and although it’s a topic many Americans are reluctant to talk about, that was not the case for those in the room.

The group agreed that U.S. immigration system was plagued by serious flaws that must be addressed. After hearing one student remark that “the immigrant can’t have a dream” despite proposed legislation like the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) and the DACA order (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), I stated, “America is not the land of the free, but a way of creating false hope.” I went on to explain the lack of equality in the workforce. That prompted several students to contend that there wasn’t enough emphasis on the appropriate framework for measuring the presumed effect of inequality on jobs. But most students said they noticed a lack of opportunity for people of color.

The division in ideas no longer existed when we addressed the meaning of having an “American Dream.” We came to a consensus that achieving the American Dream did not mean rising to the highest level of society. It meant to be better than the generation before.

My generation will be the one to create change, and my fellow participants at the Sun Youth Forum have shown why.

Discussing topics that affect Americans is essential in building a foundation. Diversity is beautiful. Diversity is vital. Diversity creates change.

Shalom Wundimu is a senior at Valley High School.