Vehicles of Change is show interviewing change makers from global policy and entrepreneurial viewpoints. We want viewers to be inspired by the positive good that is happening in the world, become educated on the mindsets, businesses, non profits, and policies that are being utilized to create change, and to be motivated to take action to create change themselves. Our interview with Emma Strother was brilliant, because her life, her journey, and her work are at the crossroads of entrepreneurship, global policy, and social change.
Emma has the unique position of now working for the nonprofit that helped her form and launch a social venture when she was 16. She understands the impact of LearnServe as a student, and as a woman dedicated to creating social change. LearnServe is a D.C.-based non profit that equips middle and high school students from diverse backgrounds with the entrepreneurial vision, tenacity, confidence, and leadership skills needed to tackle social challenges at home and abroad.
I learned about LearnServe when I was invited to judge their annual pitch contest. I wasn't sure what to expect from high school kids, but their presentations blew me away. These teens were able to articulate a problem that "pissed them off" and show the solution (typically a company) they built to solve the problem better than some adult entrepreneurs I've seen pitch.
One of my favorite moments from Emma's interview is when she said, "It's critically important to give youth the vision of a leader and the tenacity of an entrepreneur. That is how teens can build local solutions to global problems."
Emma had both of those when she founded a music program for her local school as a teen, and then joined an orchestra in Chili which helped her become part of a global conversation about the value of music within communities. She had the vision to see the solution and then had the tenacity to speak up and build it. If you're curious about her work, don't miss Emma's thesis on Political Economy and Global Arts For Social Change.
It's critically important to give youth the vision of a leader and the tenacity of an entrepreneur.
From an international development perspective, Claudia calls Emma the “Storyteller for Change”. As LearnServe’s Development Manager, she tells stories of students channeling their own life experiences and personal passions into community-based social action. Learn Serve uses a very effective international development tool called capacity building and storytelling impact. Not only do they use it, but they also scale it up fit a global action development incentivized agenda.
Emma shared during her interview that eighty-four percent of Learn Serve Alumni’s have shared that LearnServe empowered them to take action, and 86 percent have reported that our programs strengthened their global and social awareness. Over 1,500 students have participated in our programs. In turn, they have engaged more than 4,000 people in their social action projects. The ripple effects of their work extend far beyond. Local thoughts and ideas are taken global and this is a wonderful way Learn Serve gives the opportunity to expand my knowledge of social action on a LearnServe Abroad trip to Zambia. LearnServe enables their alumnis to channel their passion for the arts as an engine of social change at home and abroad. This passion fueled Emma to research (now published) as an undergraduate on how political economic context shapes public arts policy in Latin America. Emma is a change agent in the field of learning and education. During the end of the interview she shared a quote with us saying: “Adults often focus on young people as the “leaders of tomorrow.” A quote Ban-KI- Moon, former United Nations Secretary General used many times to encourage governments in developing countries to give youth a voice to be part of the development agenda.
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