[Student Essay] REVIR - Student Justice Alliance
Gayeon Koh (Grade12)
Head Girl for 2021-22, Branksome Hall Asia
Having survived the pandemic, we are at a crossroad. We can either forget and move on or come together and become stronger. I can proudly say that I have chosen the latter path. Covid-19, a grave boulder that stood in our way, also became a historical chance to learn how to come together and unite the world in overcoming this global challenge. It attested to us many of the areas we need to work together to improve as a planet, from resource inequalities to improving universal access to technology.
There is one huge treasure the youth has that the adults don’t possess. Time. Frankly speaking, our academic rigor is incomparable to adults’ work burden. They are immensely busy working, doing all the chores, taking care of us. But we, as a youth, have time to reflect on our future, time to explore different inequalities and injustices all over the world, and time to act. During my quarantine, everyday I had my own time and this pretty much changed me. The freedom given to pause what I needed to do, to do what I had to do, the chance to take the whisper growing in my heart out to the world. To begin moving, to get people to remember a historical moment or a social woe, it solely required me to convince other people that they can be passionate about what they can do. Since the world has changed so much, we must change our mentality as well. If we change our mentality of how we can contribute to the world, Covid-19 is not a problem. In fact, it becomes an opportunity. There’s so much work that we can do out there, especially because of this crisis. We are more in control with our lives and we are more in control with our times. We no longer stay inside the box. We can perform our lives at our own pace. We are no longer separated by boundaries of geography. Considering the countless reasons, why not make an opportunity? What I found imminent was to bring the student population together so that I could amass our tiny forces into a massive one, like the water droplets that form the clouds of a tempest. Because as individuals we whisper here and there, but together, we can create one solidified voice. So instead of being infuriated about all the opportunities that have been lost and how life has changed due to Covid-19, why don’t we come together to look at the world as one to really figure out in what ways as a student body, as one single union, can cooperate to address some of the problems that we, together, find ourselves alarmed by. Like how JD Rockefeller said “I always tried to change every disaster into an opportunity,” Covid-19 is not a time for us to cope but it is time for us to go out there and search for ways we can change the world. These thoughts extended to myself constructing a Youth Organization named REVIR, short for “Reveal Virus.”
I met my co-founders from IBlieve, a global online peer support network of IB students, when a peer from Serbia named Milica Dinić and another from Sudan named Sayda Abusalih reached out to me and told me they wanted to be part of this global project that I’ve suggested. The initiative that takes could be a huge risk when it comes to collaborating globally, but our different perspectives and experiences were what made our global collaboration bring a huge impact to the world in the midst of the pandemic. At REVIR, we strived to look at the data objectively and work on impacting the world by providing root solutions. With our vision to “engage cross-border cooperation to globally advance justice, transparency, and accountability” by moving onto our mission to “boost awareness by initiating global engaging events for youth to manifest ideas and speeches to develop globally-minded spirits that react proactively in the face of social crisis,” REVIR has successfully launched its first one-week Report Writing Camp. In order to leverage comparative analysis of public health statistics, economic indicators, and accessibility to unbiased information and to impact universal welfare across the globe, we created the report template that we wanted the country representatives to write based on both qualitative and quantitative aspects. Specifically, the country representatives conveyed their personal anecdote — feelings they had for their government, direct involvement in Covid, how their quarantine journey was, and how the presence of Covid generally affected their life — so that they could sincerely reflect on their overturn in their lives. For the quantitative aspects, the country representatives tried their best to be unbiased researchers by amalgamating health cases such as trend of number of infections, survivors, deaths, and availability of vaccines and economic indicators such as income level, unemployment, labor across industries especially those in medical, educational, business, food providers, and lastly, retailers. More than that, we wanted them to share their Covid-19 experiences verbally. Hence, during our closure session, the country representatives created and delivered a presentation based on their personal experiences and what they have researched about their country throughout the week. By accumulating those reports from 26 countries including South Korea, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, the US, Brazil, Greece, and so on, REVIR has successfully done its job to raise awareness of social issues based upon Covid-19 such as government corruption, insufficient education, healthcare problems, inaccessibility of Covid cases information, and lack of freedom for media. To move on, we aim to bring in more youth to initiate a Covid-19 speech contest.
Quote from a country representative of Poland:
“As a country representative of Poland, I met people from all around the world. By sharing our stories, we could develop and combine all the different ideas to raise a big voice. I was able to feel my voice being heard and included from the global community, which granted me more confidence and will to find justice. Comparing, reflecting, and listening to how other countries overcome the hardships that we all commonly face, I was able to get some encouragement and hope to continue pursuing what I dream of. Plus, REVIR’s diversity was just refreshing.”
- Karolina Kozikowska -