By DEIDRA BRISCO
Rockefeller Center is best known for its holiday musical featuring the 80 high-kicking Rockettes but on Thursday the theater was filled with 4,000 high-achieving students celebrating “youth empowerment”.
Dubbed WE Day, the first-time New York City event was an international charity celebrating volunteer efforts of students from 200 tristate area schools. To attend students must earn tickets not buy them. Ways in which students can earn tickets is through fundraising causes and charities they choose.
“WE Day requires students to be agents of change.We want the youth to know their place in the world and how to better it,” said co-founder Craig Kielburger
Students like Suswana Chowdhury, now 20, has been in the program since 2010. She said she learned of it when the group sponsored her school’s talent show. Through WE Villages Chowdury worked on clean water projects in Haiti and Ecuador and now plans to work in India.
“Clean water is important because the people have to walk long distances to get fresh water, she said, “so making clean water available to them is making them more healthy. Because of issues with Clean water, the kids there can’t go to school. When we provide clean water, the kids can then go to school because they won’t have worry about going to get water for their families.”
Kielburger added that 80 percent of the alumni continue to do charity work after finishing the program. Suswana fit the pattern, citing that she would continue charity work within social justice, as she already writes opinion pieces, educates others and wants to continue on a global level with WE Villages.
“I want to increase diversity of South Asian women in the media,” she said. “If casted, they are casted as stereotypes or if they are casted as role models they are given white names. Like my name is Suswana why cant a character be named by an authentic name?”
Dr. Martin Luther King III, founder of Realizing the Dream, said that his agenda was to combat poverty, racism, and violence. King, a speaker at WE Day expressed awe in WE schools “empowering children to better America and literally roll up their sleeves.”