Interview with Charlene Lin

Please introduce yourself.

Hello! My name is Charlene Lin, and I’m fifteen years old. I am the founder and president of Power the Youth, and am excited to share my story! Apart from Power the Youth, I am also a high school student in the US. I like to be active in my community, and you can find me in many other organizations! I hope that through being active, I’m able to meet more people, gain new experiences, create change, and overall, having a greater impact!

What is “Power the Youth” and what is its mission?

Power the Youth is a youth-led organization providing youth with essential knowledge and opportunities to develop leadership skills. As of now, we currently have over 1,500+ followers and have an ambitious goal of reaching 3,000 followers by the end of this year. Power the Youth doesn’t only promote leadership skills, but it also helps to develop leadership skills. You might ask, how do we do this? Power the Youth provides youth with programs to practice and develop leadership skills. We also hold events so others can learn from leaders, changemakers, etc. Learning how others lead might just spark something inside you, and maybe even help you to discover a new perspective of leading! On top of events and programs, Power the Youth provides opportunities for everyone to be active in their community, and also information to know. These can all be found through our Instagram page, @power_the_youth_!

What was your inspiration behind “Power the Youth”?

My inspiration behind Power the Youth was the pandemic. I saw how many were feeling/being more isolated and few social interactions. Before the pandemic, I was completely unaware of the number of online opportunities there were for high school students. I stumbled across a few and submitted an application for them. Through this, I developed and nurtured my passion for volunteering. After a while, I wanted to start my own organization to have a bigger impact. I took this opportunity to start Power the Youth. It took me a while, but after many revisions, we finally made our organization’s mission and focus. While thinking, I stumbled across the idea of, why not impact the world by impacting the impacters? What better way to make an impact? If you can impact one person, who then goes on to impact ten people, and the ten people go on to impact ten more each, and so on…. Imagine the ripple effect this could have by training leaders, specifically youth.

Prior to the establishment of “Power the Youth”, your organization served a different purpose. What was this and what process was taken in order to “revamp” it?

Before the current Power the Youth, our focus was actually only on providing opportunities for youth. The original goal was just to help youth be more active in their community. However, I slowly began to realize that the impact was very limited. I wanted a way to directly engage, impact, and educate others. This lead to the development of the current Power the Youth. The actual process of revamping wasn’t too difficult. I worked and communicated with my team, got a few posts up about our change, and made some other small adjustments.

One thing that “Power the Youth” stands for is that it works to help its followers develop leadership skills. What exactly does leadership mean to you?

Leadership can be defined in many different ways depending on the person you’re asking. To me, leadership means not just how you lead people, but also how much of an impact you make, both on people, and in the world. Leadership simply isn’t just holding a title, it is so much more. It means to be able to truly know who you work with, being able to inspire and motivate them to do their best work and be their best self.

I’m incredibly fortunate to be given the chance to lead others and have so many amazing team members. I strive to create a positive change through Power the Youth and create positive change in the very heart of Power the Youth, aka the team members. The members in Power the Youth truly learn a lot, gain new experiences, while also developing connections with others. I’ve been able to see my team grow, create friendships, and enjoy the work and feeling of being able to impact others. Through seeing these things, I’m able to know that I have created an impact on others.

Would you ever think of expanding “Power the Youth” to other platforms in the future? What plans do you have for “Power the Youth” in the future?

Definitely! As of now, we are Instagram-based and are already undergoing plans to expand onto other platforms! As for other Power the Youth plans, I’m unsure of all of them yet, but I can assure you that we have big, big, very big plans. I am an ambitious individual, so when I mean big, I mean bigggg. A few that I can disclose are our ambassador program, which is launching very soon, informative impactful events, and possible competitions. Lastly, we will also have many exciting partnerships. Follow us on Instagram at @power_the_youth_ to find out more!

Amidst a global pandemic, it can be hard for students to gain opportunities of any kind. How does your organization cater to this hardship?

Our organization caters to this hardship by not only helping youth to become aware of opportunities but also offering numerous ways to engage with our organization. This can look anything like signing up for our webinars, taking part in our programs (like our ambassador program), or being a part of our team!

The pandemic has not only left a heavy impact on a reduction of opportunities but also on the social constructs of the world. Especially with what has happened recently involving the increase in Asian hate crimes, what are your feelings about all the negativity and how do you believe we can combat this racism?

My feelings towards Asian hate crimes are a mixture of anger, disbelief, and sadness. It is unbelievable how others mistreat people just because of their race/color. How I believe we can combat this racism is by first educating ourselves. Educate ourselves first, what racism is, how it affects people, and how harmful it actually is. Then teach and educate others on what you’ve learned, become an advocate, and stand up for injustice and racism when you see it.

Do you have plans to combine activism, especially within the AAPI community, with your efforts to teach people leadership since both efforts are intertwined?

Yes, we do! One of the top ways to show/develop leadership skills while also making an impact is through activism. We plan to have programs and events coming soon that would actively promote activism in many different areas and causes. Additionally, we will use our platform to bring awareness to different topics and showcase/partner with other organizations/individuals to also have their voice heard.

How do you balance the work you do with “Power the Youth” with the other aspects of your busy life? Is there anything else that you’re passionate about that you’d like to share?

Great question! I use a notebook to jot down and keep track of all my meetings. Additionally, when scheduling my meetings, I am cognizant of my other meetings and work that I have to complete. I schedule meetings for when I know I’m available. If I have a lot to do one day, then I schedule the meeting for another day when I know I’m more available. Additionally, if one of the other organizations I’m a part of has a meeting, I either schedule my other meetings around that and finish my work beforehand if I need to. For the past few months, because of COVID, I had a lot more free time due to my many past extracurriculars being either canceled or suspended. I’m been able to use this time to give it back to virtual organizations, online events, and Power the Youth. As for other passions, I enjoy participating in sports and have participated in my school’s many sports teams. As for topics, I’m passionate about and am an advocate for equality and education (amongst many other topics too).

“Power the Youth” is an amazing organization with an inspirational motive. Where can people find you and how can they get more involved?

People can find us on Instagram at @power_the_youth_ and also through our website https://powertheyouth.wixsite.com/my-site. We will be expanding to other platforms so follow us on Instagram to be notified when we do so! People can get involved with our organizations by simply following us on Instagram, and being able to see our posts when we post. More ways to be more involved are to like and comment on our posts, sign-up for our events and programs, and possibly even apply to be part of our team! For organizations who want to get involved, reach out to us to be considered for a possible partnership!

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