Welcome to the first issue of Giving Voice!
In these digital pages you will find the thoughts, opinions, and suggested solutions from students who are attempting to understand the world around them and find ways in which they can engage and improve their community. In a year fraught with seemingly insurmountable problems, it can be difficult to find time to focus on a single issue, think through it, and act on it. And yet that is precisely what we’ve asked these young people to do—and what we humbly ask you to do as well.
When I was approached to act as an editor and mentor for Giving Voice, I thought back to what sparked my own interest in writing. Although I had always enjoyed it, I recalled visiting a free writing lab at Illinois Central College. At the age of 16, I worked with mentors who helped me correct grammatical issues, shape phrases, and frame my arguments. It was a simple act, but I left feeling empowered. Writing became not just an academic strength, but a professional and personal one as well. These communication skills made countless opportunities available… and it is a gift we wish to share with others.
“Youth” is, obviously, a pretty relative concept. My own generation, Millennials, have historically been portrayed fairly negatively, usually with a banal reference or two to avocado toast. (For the record, I fit that particular stereotype!) If you are a Gen X or Baby Boomer, I’m sure you endured your share of raised eyebrows from older generations.
But what if we approached Gen Z differently?
What if we engaged in a dialogue?
The act of sharing and listening is transformative. The acknowledgment of another’s voice and opinion does not have to exist in a vacuum, of course. As the students wrote their articles, we pushed back and challenged them on some of their ideas. We asked them to think through the topics critically, research their arguments, and find potential solutions. It’s easy enough to complain, but much more challenging to step up as a leader and create change.
I did my best to preserve each student’s writing style. We anticipate that you will learn something from each of them, just as we have. I want to thank the Giving Voice team—Doug and Eileen Leunig, Jamie Wunning, and Trent Miles—for the incredible work that they put into bringing this program to fruition. I also want to thank each of the students for sharing their words with us—they are powerful, and they are necessary in order to change, heal, and grow our community.
Mae Gilliland Wright, PhD
Giving Voice Editor-in-Chief