One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve received over the last few years as I began to build a professional profile and prepare for the university application process was to “network and take the opportunities that come your way.” As much as I appreciated and found value in this advice, I don’t think I truly put it to use until January of 2019 when I decided to apply for the position of contributor at Next Generation Politics. It was a decision that seemed fairly daunting at first, as I knew very little about the organisation and even less about the people who were in charge of the day-to-day operations. A year and a half later, however, I have not only completed the stressful process of applying to university, but this journey that seemed so daunting at first has allowed me to become a better writer, a better communicator, and a better advocate for justice around the world.

As I begin a new chapter in my life as a student at the University of Southern California, I have also taken advantage of new opportunities that have come my way. In doing so, it has also become clear to me that the time has come to part ways with this wonderful organisation which has been so crucial to my growth over the last year and a half. Thanks to Next Generation Politics, I was given a platform to share and articulate some views that I wasn’t able to share a year and a half ago. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, I was given the opportunity to learn and be challenged on my views.

Reading each new piece that is published through the organisation, I actively took on the role of learning more and more about racial disparities in the US, mobile payments in China, and bias in mainstream media. Through each piece I wrote and read, I gained not only new knowledge about the world but also a deeper understanding of myself and the kinds of justices I want to fight for in this world. For this, I am eternally grateful for the platform Next Generation Politics has given me and other people like myself: young, growing, and passionate about the world.

As I move on to exciting new opportunities, I’d like to encourage young people from around the country and around the world to take a stand on the issues that matter to them. Whether that takes the shape of conversations at family reunions, charitable contributions, or, as I have done, writing for an organisation like Next Generation Politics, each person has the power to make even the slightest impact on the mainstream narrative about issues.

I can’t predict what will become of me in the future, and perhaps it’s become even more difficult to do so in this specific moment in time, but I can say that I will continue to raise awareness for the justices that matter to me, and connect with others who share the same views or disagree with me.

Thank you, Next Generation Politics, for the amazing viewpoints you’ve given me.

Todd Lu is a Next Generation Politics contributor for International News and Economics, and an incoming freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Communication. Todd’s passion for storytelling and fostering a global perspective on critical issues of our time is at the centre of his written work, theatre performances, and leadership of his high school’s ambassadors programme for international and exchange students.