“We wanted to empower students” Siddharth Bansal

Camyll Reyes, Staff Writer

We started the Agents of Change organization, which is a program supported by Ro Khanna that encourages youth activism in the East and South Bay community. Working on Khanna’s campaign prompted us to think, “How can we actually create change or execute the projects that Ro Khanna’s campaign promoted?” So we started Agents of Change as something volunteer based and created some of our own projects within the organization. We wanted to empower students and show them they can create change on their own without needing a big organization. We aim to get students thinking about how they can help the community and how they can continue applying that sort of thinking later on in life.

In Agents of Change, we raise awareness and do service for five main causes: equalizing economic opportunities, STEM advocacy, mental health awareness, environmental protection, and fighting discrimination. For equalizing economic opportunities, we want to teach low income areas about things such as public speaking since they don’t have the opportunity to start clubs like Debate or DECA. For STEM advocacy, we’re providing computer science programs for kids who don’t have access to such resources. To support our third cause, mental health, we’re working with the FUHSD superintendent to see what procedures we can take to alleviate stress in Irvington. And for environmental protection, we try to go to schools and spread knowledge about why it’s healthy to preserve the environment. We also help schools take initiative in environmental protection, whether that’s starting a garden club or installing a refillable water station. We also recently held a summit where we called in a community partner organization, Maitri, and we talked about how domestic violence is not okay and what steps we can take as a community to prevent it.

The whole experience of running Agents of Change – giving the students a voice and helping them enact their own projects and create actual change – is pretty great. I’ve learned a lot from starting this organization and being involved in it. I feel like before Agents of Change, I didn’t really know much about the community. When you’re a student you think, “this is Irvington and these are my friends,” and that’s the scope of your world. But then you meet so many diverse people from all over Fremont, you see that not every area is like Irvington.

If I were talking to someone who wanted to be involved in something like Agents of Change, I would tell them to focus on one area that you really want to make a difference in. The people you help and the people you work with will be most impacted by your cause when you are passionate about what you do. Find that area that you care about and don’t try to focus on too much and spread yourself thin over different areas. Once you’ve accomplished your goal in one area, you can then move on to something different.