Everywhere around the country, educating “well-informed, active, responsible global citizens” has become a ubiquitous cliche in classrooms. Teenagers are indoctrinated to cure the worldly ills of poverty and pollution, and even toddlers are taught to fight against evil ogres. It is a sad irony how the majority of youths are oftentimes amazingly ignorant of local issues which have far-reaching impacts on their own homes. I had a taste of this ignorance last year, when the state of Maryland posted seven referendums ranging from legalization of same-sex marriage to authorization of gambling expansion. As I walked around my school to gather student perspectives for a newspaper article, pairs of bewildered eyes and ‘whats?’ and ‘waits...’ both astonished and amused me. Even with regards to Question Four--a referendum on the Dream Act allowing undocumented students to pursue public university scholarships--, the extent of ignorance and apathy was perplexing. It is no great surprise then that during the election day, as I did my morning jog across a poll station, barely any young people were in sight while the one holding up the ‘Vote ‘Yes’ for 4’ sign was a mid-aged lady with grey hair.
Inspired by our personal experiences with socio-political apathy, a group of six students (including myself) launched our project, the MoCo Student Newspaper, the first county-wide, student-run, non-partisan, free online weekly last autumn to raise awareness for local youth-relevant issues. With passionate writers, graphic artists, and researchers from diverse backgrounds, we published three~four student-friendly articles per school week featuring important policies and/or events that could impact the quality of our education. Our newspaper also invites editorial submissions from students, thus serving as an easily-accessible conduit for which youths can freely express their views about ongoing local, social issues. We, the Montgomery County Student, want to cultivate a sense of civic efficacy and empower our peers. Only with awareness and knowledge can we speak out and do something, and only when we do something are we one step closer to being a responsible global citizen.