Monday, June 30, 2014

Cooperating Across Party Lines To Defend High School Internet Access Rights
As Max Turgeon, a Newington High School student, speaks at a press conference on student internet access rights at the Connecticut state Capitol Monday, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat listens to the left and Connecticut state Sen. Rob Kane, a Watertown Republican, listens to the right. Most of the others are debate students. 

By Alan Burkholder
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Being home for the summer is not always as nice as it sounds. Even though the high-speed pace of college life can tire a person out after a long while, sitting around doing nothing but sit in the dark and type away on a laptop is somehow even more tiring.
So it’s natural that a person like myself would take any excuse to get out of the house and do something. Anything, really.
I was asked to come to the state Legislative Office Building to a press conference with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Connecticut state Sen. Rob Kane, about the issue of overly restrictive filters on high school computers.
I believe that trying to get computers to differentiate between news and politics is, as Sen. Murphy, a Democrat, put it, “an impossible exercise.”
I took up the offer to attend the press conference, figuring I wouldn’t really have much else to do on a Monday morning in the tail end of June. Besides, who would pass up the opportunity to bug an elected official? Certainly not I.
I arrived around nine in the morning, alongside my fellow Youth Journalism International reporter Kiernan Majerus-Collins, who wasn’t reporting at all. Instead, he was busy looking over his notes for the speech he was going to make at the press conference.
Alan Burkholder gets interviewed by Bryan
Frankovitch of the CPBN media labs.
Outside the building we saw two women having a chat and smoking. I am not quite sure what this says about the local government, but it was an interesting way to start the day.
When we entered the building, I had to stop and look around the huge hall. This was not my first time there, but I still had to wonder about the purpose of having such a large amount of empty space in an office building.
I didn’t have long to think about this before we were approached by two young people taking interviews about global climate change. Since I wanted to be courteous, I threw in my two cents while Kiernan stood in the background, waiting for his chance to speak. Once I was finished and Kiernan began his interview, I returned the favor.
Alan Burkholder with his popcorn,
ready for the show to begin.
I still had time before the talk, so I made my way to the cafeteria to see what politicians have for breakfast. I got a small cup of Frosted Flakes, an apple, some apple juice, a cinnamon bun, and some popcorn for later. It seemed odd to me that there was a popcorn machine in the cafeteria, but after thinking about it, it made sense. You can’t have a show without popcorn.
When the time came for the senators to actually speak, I sat down and took note of what they said. It surprised me how cooperative they were being about the issue of activism in schools.
Sen. Kane, a Republican from Watertown, even stated directly that this was “not a Democratic or Republican issue.”
Wait, politicians are agreeing? Whatever happened to petty bickering and stubborn refusal to cooperate?
Sarcasm aside, it was nice to see both sides of this issue come together for the sake of the public and also the visiting Westfield Academy of Debate and Public Speaking.
Senators Murphy and Kane were very friendly and polite towards each other, which is the kind of behavior that I admire in politicians. If only senators and representatives were cooperative more often.
YJI reporter Alan Burkholder interviews U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.
Kiernan also spoke, along with a Newington High School freshman named Max Turgeon. For people so young, they spoke very passionately about the issue. Both of them are on Congressman John Larson’s First Congressional Youth Cabinet.
Kiernan, representing young Democrats, said, “Access to all points of view in our schools is important.”
Max, a conservative who was representing young Republicans, also voice his support to change school policies on politics.
“The best way to defend freedom of speech,” said Max, “is to inform our youth.”
It is incredible how even in the face of discouragement by their schools and peers, (Max pointed out that most of his political tirades ended with an answer of “Shut up, Max”) young people like Kiernan and Max can fight passionately to encourage activism in schools.
After the press conference, I asked Sen. Murphy about what he thought could be done to encourage political activism in schools other than remove unnecessary filters from Google (or Bing, if you’re one of those people.) He responded that one method he approves of is “when schools have debates” about hot-button issues, encouraging young people to get involved in the discussion.
YJI reporter Alan Burkholder and U.S. Sen.
Chris Murphy.
I thanked Sen. Murphy for his time, shook his hand, and took a picture with him. It was a real pleasure to meet him and ask him a meaningful question. It’s always nice to see people getting involved with kids and telling them that whatever they can do to help others is appreciated.
I for one, am doing my part. I am writing about all of this so that other people can read it and think, “Maybe I should do something.”
Getting others to help is one of the best things that someone can do to help a cause. That and making things actually happen.
All in all, I am glad I went to the press conference today. It’s reassuring to see people agreeing about something and cooperating to make it happen. I should do this more often. And frankly, so should you.

Split-Rocker Takes Rockefeller Center Stage

There's new artwork on display at Rockefeller Center in New York City: Jeff Koons' Split-Rocker, presented by Gagosian Gallery and on display until Sept. 12. (Photos by Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Youth Journalism International)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Great Lesson In Politics: Serving As Minnesota's Youngest Convention Delegate
YJI Reporter Allison Hall with Minnesota's endorsed Republican candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson.

By Allison Hall
ROCHESTER, Minnesota, U.S.A. – I’ve learned about American government and politics in school, but last month, as the youngest delegate at the Minnesota Republican state convention, I got hands-on experience that can’t be taught in a classroom.
Those two days at the Rochester Civic Center at the end of May taught me so much more about how the process works and what being a delegate truly entails.
As the delegate for House District 7A – from my hometown of Duluth – I got to know candidates for state auditor, secretary of state, attorney general, governor and United States senator.
Delegates also create and pass resolutions to the Republican Party's platform and finally, the most exciting part, vote for the candidates. 
At first I was hesitant to attend for two reasons. First, the convention took place the weekend before my finals for school – I study a lot – so going to the convention would mean less time to prepare for exams.
The second reason was that out of more than 2,000 delegates, I would be the youngest person there and it would be my first time as a delegate.
I attended the national GOP convention in 2012, but I was just a guest, so I wasn't able to become super involved. The state convention would be my chance to experience the endorsement process hands-on. 
After realizing what an awesome opportunity this would be for me, I took a leap of faith and planned my trip to Rochester.
I don't want to undermine the importance of any of the offices but the most popular endorsements of the convention are for the U.S. Senate endorsement and the endorsement for state governor.
The Senate candidates were Jim Abeler, Phillip Parrish, Monti Moreno, Julianne Ortman, Chris Dahlberg and Mike McFadden. The leading candidates for governor were Marty Seifert, Dave Thompson and Jeff Johnson.
The Mayo Civic Center in Rochester,
Minnesota, decorated for the state 
Republican convention, held there May 30-31.
I woke up early Friday morning and made my way to the Rochester Civic Center. I registered and headed to the arena.
As I took my first few steps into the front entrance I was excited and ready to go. There were stands everywhere with people passing out stickers, t-shirts, buttons and more.
I knew ahead of time that several of the politicians would approach delegates and try to convince them to vote for him or her and that is exactly how it was.
Many of the candidates were very friendly, making it impossible at that point to decide which people I would vote for.
After an hour of waiting around in the convention center, the speeches for the U.S. Senate candidates began. It was great to hear them speak and get to know their stand on various issues our country is struggling with.
All of the candidates were wonderful and to be honest, any one of them would have been a great opponent. But we needed to choose one candidate to endorse and throw our support behind, so after the speeches, the voting began.
YJI reporter and Minneosta 
state Republican convention
delegate with her first ballot.

All the campaign staffers were asked to leave the floor and delegates took their seats and were handed their ballots. Dahlberg took the lead, surprisingly, and remained in the lead until the last ballot.Dahlberg was my first choice. Not only was he experienced, but he had what it would take to win the North Eastern precincts in Minnesota.
To select a candidate to endorse, delegates will normally have to go through a few ballots, but this convention was different.
We went through 10 ballots and were at the convention center from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Keep in mind the majority of the delegates are over the age of 50, so by midnight, the energy began to die.
Of course like any other teenager would do, I started running around the arena chanting "Dahlberg" and talking to various people about why they should switch their vote to Dahlberg. My goal was to keep the energy going so that no one would leave and so Dahlberg wouldn't start losing support.
Allison Hall takes a break from the convention to get some fresh air.

As the youngest delegate there, I attracted a lot of attention. I got a lot of, "You go, girl" and "We need more kids involved in this kind of stuff, we're proud of you."
As the night dragged on, people got sleepy, so at 2 a.m., we made an amendment to the rules so that we could recess for the night and continue our voting in the morning. The amendment went through, and people got the sleep they needed.
YJI Reporter Allison Hall and
McFadden, the endorsed
candidate for U.S. 
Senate in Minnesota.
When we returned bright and early the following morning, McFadden ended up taking the lead and becoming our endorsed candidate. I was somewhat disappointed, but knew that McFadden would also be an excellent U.S. Senate candidate for our party.
The ballot for governor didn't last nearly as long, but was a fun day as well. Johnson, who is a Hennepin County commissioner and a former state representative, became the endorsed candidate, which was exciting for me because he had my support from the start.
I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to be a delegate.
It opened my eyes even more to the world of politics and grabbed my interest. The most frequent thing I heard when people saw I was a delegate was, "We need more youth involved in this."
I completely agree. These decisions being made don't only affect adults, they affect kids, too.
It’s important for kids to inform themselves about our country’s politics so when they are older they can be contributing members of society and help make decisions about how the government handles the issues that will affect them.
Attending this convention as a delegate was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I hope that my experience will inspire other young students to reach out and become more involved in politics so that we have a say in our country's future. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fan-tastic: Despite Tension, Brazil's World Cup Victory Over Chile Was Guaranteed

By Maria Luiza Lago
Junior Reporter
CURITIBA, Paraná, Brazil – After winning the match against Cameroon last Monday in the capital of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, with a score of 4-1, Brazil struck once more against Chile, emerging victorious in a tense match.

The game against Chile took place in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, in the Mineirão Stadium.
During the national anthem, some people in the audience were crying with emotion, and even as the song ended, people kept singing proudly.
People from all over Brazil and the world were watching the game.
I gathered along with friends and family to have barbecue; other friends of mine were in their houses, friend’s houses or in restaurants with big screens, watching the match.  
The game was pretty tense, with the score tied at 1-1.
We realized that Chile represented a potential threat.
As the game continued, the penalties came, and the cheering grew stronger. At every goal, there was a spread of joy around every corner: fireworks were lit up, people cheered and screamed, hugging each other, texting on social media about the great victory.
The game lasted almost three hours – twice as long as usual.
The play was very rough, and in the final breath, there was a chance to get back in the lead and win.
The match itself wasn’t good at all. People suffered and cheered for Brazil to keep up and score for most of the game. When Brazil won, it was a real relief.
Then we watched to see who our team would play next.
Uraguay and Columbia played each other today in Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. In the first 28 minutes, Columbia scored one goal, and ended up taking the match in a 2-0 victory.
Brazil had won two games already before today, one against Cameroon and another against Croatia.
With the win against Chile, expectations are high, but there’s still a lot left to happen in the World Cup.
No matter what, nothing will stop us from cheering for our Brazilian team.

Holding Inspiration In My Hand, Managing Loss, And Realizing What's Important

The rock that Nelba Márquez-Greene gave to Matthew Albrecht

By Matthew Albrecht
Junior Reporter
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – I met many inspiring people at the Peace in Connecticut conference Thursday, but one woman stood out. 
Nelba Márquez-Greene lost her daughter Ana in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown in 2012. In her grief, she founded The Ana Grace Project, which works to keeps Ana’s memory alive and spread the message, “Love Wins.” 
I had the good fortune of making a special connection with her that I will always cherish. It started with a simple stone.
As the conference began, we were given rocks and told to write or draw a symbol of what peace means to us. Then, we were supposed to pair up with someone we didn’t know. I approached Mrs. Márquez-Greene and asked to be her partner. 
I had drawn a dove on my rock in memory of my father, who passed away suddenly a year and a half ago from a heart attack. We were very close. He coached me to try to get me to socialize more. He took me to Disney on my birthday just because I asked. He did everything to help move me forward, but he also made sure not to spoil me.
The worst part about my dad’s sudden death was the fact that I didn’t realize how blessed I was to have him until, in an instant, he was gone.
My dad wasn’t on my mind when I showed up at the peace conference. To be honest, I had no idea why I was there. I am not a seasoned reporter. I was unsure of what to expect and if I could even handle it. 
But I told Mrs. Márquez-Greene about my father. She listened. My dad was the reason I went to church so often. I explained that a dove is brought to my church every Pentecost and that’s why I decided to draw a dove on my peace rock.

NelbMárquez-Greene and
Matthew Albrecht at the Peace
in Connecticut conference
at Trinity College on Thursday.
This woman who had been through so much still genuinely cared about my story. She has one of the kindest and most empathetic faces I have ever seen.
Mrs. Márquez-Greene told me that the slogan of her movement is "Love Wins." This phrase was what she decided to write on her rock.
When she spoke to me about what "Love Wins" meant to her, I was inspired. She told me that she would be willing to give me and my fellow young journalists time to talk to her privately. She showed patience with me, a teenager who had no idea what he was doing. Before the conversation ended, we exchanged our peace rocks.
Soon after, it was time for her to give her presentation at the conference. That’s when she did something that touched me deeply. She not only displayed her true kindness, but also provided me with a moment that had an impact on me like very few moments ever will, and few ever had.
She held my rock – my gift to her – in front of the whole assembly and dedicated her presentation to me and my father. 
I have only met a few truly inspiring people in my life, but I can honestly say that she is one of them. When Mrs. Márquez-Greene speaks, it is genuine, true and eloquent.
She changed me for the better. Her influence comes from the fact that she does what she tells others to do. My interaction with a perfect stranger was itself a message about empathy and kindness.
I have never lost a child but I have lost someone close to me. It is a heart-wrenching experience that she handled with grace.
After the conference, I visited a playground in Hartford’s Elizabeth Park that was built in Ana's memory.
Children talked and chased each other and slid on slides and ran all over. I talked to a little boy named Samuel through the telephone tubes. The playground was clean and well kept.

Matthew Albrecht at the Elizabeth Park
playground dedicated to Ana Grace.
I know that Ana, like me, must smile as she sees this.
All of this reflecting made me want to go to the cemetery to visit my dad. An hour later, I ran up to his headstone, something I very rarely do. Running up to a headstone excitedly, not frowning, is a rare occurrence. I reached into my pocket.
The rock was gone.
I was in deep disbelief. Where could it have gone? Panicked, I searched under the car seats. I moved the seats forward and back. I recruited my friend in the search. I had to find it.
Crushed, I walked back to my dad's headstone. I was filled with disappointment as I told Dad my story but I made sure to let him know how much the experience had meant to me. I was really upset. I told him about meeting with Mrs. Márquez-Greene and how I had been star struck. Even the rock she gave me was inspiring.
I felt so awful about losing it that all my plans to write about our encounter evaporated. I didn’t want to admit that I’d lost her precious gift. I had planned to bring it to college in the fall. Why had it come into my life only to disappear a few hours later?
I went home empty-handed and told my family about my day. As we talked, I realized that the rock might carry the “Love Wins” message to someone else. It might even help them. I hope it means as much to them as it meant to me
I still have the most important thing from that day – a special encounter with Mrs. Márquez-Greene. I hope I get to meet her again.
I dedicate this piece to Mrs. Nelba Márquez-Greene and her beautiful daughter Ana.
I hope that Ana is looking down at her mother today and sees how much her mom's message meant to me. I like to think Ana is also looking down at the rock and whoever has it now, smiling. Love wins. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Shot Six Times At 15, But He Forgave

By Mugdha Gurram
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Holding grudges seems to be a natural talent for many people, and sometimes it seems reasonable. Imagine how justifiable it must seem to hold a grudge against someone who shot you six times.
And yet, that’s not what Hashim Garrett did.
Garrett, who spoke at the Peace in Connecticut conference for nonviolence at Trinity College on Thursday, talked about the power of forgiveness.
Garrett’s story starts with his troubled home life in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, he constantly saw the abuse his mother suffered at the hands of her boyfriends. This planted the seed of anger and hurt in him.
Then he became a victim of bullying. Without a father figure around to teach him how to stick up for himself, that seed started to blossom.
By the time he became a teenager, Garrett said, he was full of anger. At age 13 he joined a gang and his list of bad decisions grew. And at age 15, six bullets left him a paraplegic.
Garrett relived his trauma for the audience. When he first realized that he had been shot, he told us he’d felt no anger – just fear.
Hashim Garrett speaks at the Peace 
Connecticut conference at Trinity 
He pleaded with God.
Over and over again he said, “God, please don’t let me die.” This mantra, he said, brought him peace.
Garrett then described his out-of-body experience.
“All of the sudden I could feel my soul float out of my body,” he said, adding that all he could think at the time was, “I shoulda’ been a better person.”
It was during Garrett’s recovery that he found it in himself to forgive his attacker, but that did not come for a while.
When he first found out he was going to be paraplegic, he “was really consumed with revenge.” He wanted to kill the person who shot him, make him feel his pain, the pain of knowing he could never dance at prom or walk along a beach again.
But the examples of forgiveness in the Bible, given to him by his grandmother, helped him see the power of forgiveness.
“I chose to take the concept of forgiveness to heart,” said Garrett. “The only thing that gives me peace of mind is forgiveness.”
He talked about how forgiveness helped him with his recovery.
“Every time I look down at these braces and crutches, forgiveness helps me take the next step,” said Garrett.
He said he was able to forgive when he realized, “The kid who hurt me was just like me.”
Garrett said he knew the other boy must have grown up under similar circumstances and experienced gang violence just like him.
“That was a human being who made a mistake,” said Garrett.
He added that he believes these influences cause lots of violence.
“There are a lot of students walking around with wounds you cannot see.”
They deal with these wounds in the ways they have seen modeled, and unfortunately, that’s usually through violence.
A major component of forgiveness, Garrett said, was “to be able to look at your enemy and no longer see your enemy.” And so that is what he has practiced.
Garrett informed his audience that forgiveness was not a single gesture, but an attitude.
“It’s not a one-time pill,” he said, “It’s a continuing act.”
He stressed the key role forgiveness plays in the prevention of violence, saying, “The moment that we stop forgiving, the hate takes over.”
This is why it’s important to treat forgiveness as an everyday act, he said.
To Garrett, forgiveness is an important part of preventing trauma and healing from trauma. It is a part of recovery for him.
“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself,” he said.

Using His Own Troubled Past To Lead Inner City Youth Away From Violence And Gangs

By Mugdha Gurram
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Taking another person’s life indisputably changes a person.
When Kenny Jackson found himself in prison after shooting someone at point-blank range, he was in the same situation as a lot of inner-city youths.

But he said he came out of this experience as a better man.
After spending 14 years behind bars, he told an audience at the Peace in Connecticut conference Thursday that he regrets his decisions, but has managed to make the best of his situation.
Reflecting on his time in jail, he said, “I look at it as going in a cocoon, but I came out a man.”
“My past mistakes,” he said, “are just what they are – past mistakes.”
According to Jackson, if used as a learning opportunity, “a prison can be just like a UConn institution.”
Jackson has managed to channel his past into a positive force for the work he does now as the program supervisor at StreetSafe Bridgeport.
On the job, he helps inner-city kids with conflict resolution, to help them avoid the same mistakes he made.
After being a negative influence in his community, he said it’s his duty to become a positive influence. Having once brought problems, he said he now thinks, “Who better can bring solutions to the community?”
“We have to treat this like it’s war, because that’s what it is,” he said.
Jackson’s approach for working with inner city kids is unique because he, unlike so many others, grew up in similar circumstances, so he is able to relate to them better and earn their respect.
For inner-city kids, it’s important to have mediators who look like them, understand and empathize with their situation, Jackson said.
Jackson said the biggest cause of trouble was not the youth, but the influences on them.
“A youth doesn’t wake up waiting to shoot somebody,” he said.
But when they’re raised surrounded by domestic violence, drug problems, and gangs, those behaviors become automatic to them, Jackson said and they become immune to the terror of their deeds.
“A lot of that immunity is built up on what’s going on in the household,” Jackson added.
The community also has a large influence on the youth. He compared walking around some neighborhoods to “walking in war zones.”
The violence young people see in their neighborhoods and schools become second nature to them, according to Jackson.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” said Jackson.
This is why he’s taken so much effort to create programs that cultivate a supportive environment for inner-city youths. For him, having a support system helped him get out of jail.
So Jackson set up a conflict-resolution type program, with fellow students acting as mediators while he looks on.
The key factor of success for this program is the mediator, said Jackson, stressing the importance of choosing people who are respected by students and who respect the students.
They must be able to relate to the students, understand their home life and the social dynamics in their community, he said.
After the initial mediation, it’s important to follow up with the students, to ensure continuing success. By doing this, Jackson said he’s “holding them accountable.”
Student success is dependent on the follow-ups, so Jackson always makes sure to check in on them and allow them to check in with him.
“I make myself accessible,” he said.
He can see the change these programs have inspired in the youth. By using positive reinforcement, the kids start to seek out their mentors on their own to share achievements, he said.
But Jackson again stressed the importance of community to ensure these students’ ongoing success.
“It needs to not just be in the school,” he said, “but in the community.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

U.S. Ambassador's Message To Young Nigerians: You Are The Nation's Future

Festus Iyorah /
Pharmacy student Chiamaka Echeta delivered a brief presentation on youth and leadership.

By Linus Okechukwu and Festus Iyorah

NSUKKA, Enugu, Nigeria – Youth empowerment is the key to building a stronger Nigeria, said James Entwistle, United States ambassador to Nigeria.
“I encourage young Nigerians to prepare themselves to take up future leadership positions,” Entwistle said. “A new Nigeria is in your hands.”
On a visit to the University of Nigeria in Nsukka today, Entwistle said that despite challenges of insecurity, power, unemployment and the like, he is optimistic about the future of the country.
Festus Iyorah /
Ambassador James Entwistle
Entwistle, who began his diplomatic mission in Nigeria last November, said the United States will continue to partner with Nigeria and provide workshops to give the young people the charge to build their own future.
In an opening address, University of Nigeria Vice Chancellor Professor Benjamin Ozumba welcomed the ambassador and his entourage and said the university “looks forward to enduring partnership with the United States government and her research institutions.”
Festus Iyorah /
Meriela Nwodo
A student of pharmacy, Chiamaka Echeta, 20, who delivered a brief presentation on youth and leadership, said young people must avoid laziness and embrace creativity and innovation if they want a better future.
“We must create work for ourselves and avoid over-reliance on government,” said Echeta, who was an exchange student in Denver, Colorado, in the United States in 2009 as part of Critical Mass Leadership Education, a U.S.-sponsored program.
Nigeria has suffered a wide range of challenges, especially security threats posed by incessant bombings by Boko Haram. The Islamist militant group abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from a dormitory in northern Nigeria in April, but despite international aid from the United Kingdom, the U.S., France and other countries, the girls are still missing.
Amnesty International estimates that more than 1,500 citizens died this year as a result of conflicts between Boko Haram and the military.
The BBC reported Wednesday that a bomb attack on a busy shopping district in Abuja, the capital, killed at least 21 people and injured more than 50 others.
Festus Iyorah /
From left, the U.S. Consul General in Lagos, Jeffery Hawkins, American Ambassador James Entwistle and University of Nigeria Vice Chancellor Professor Benjamin Ozumba.
Since then, Entwistle said he thinks many Nigerians want to know what the role of the U.S. will be in the fight against terrorism.

Festus Iyorah /
Chiemezie Chukwuemeka
The U.S. strives to provide assistance in the fight to curb terrorism, he said, adding that America is also helping to provide counter-insurgency training for Nigeria’s military forces.
“What we’re doing is supporting your government’s effort against Boko Haram,” said Entwistle, who has served as a diplomat in Africa for 33 years. “The United States isn’t here for Nigeria; we‘re here to do things with Nigeria.”
Students who attended the occasion sounded optimistic about the future.
“There’s hope for the youth,” said Chiemezie Chukwuemeka, 15, a student of the University of Nigeria Secondary School in Nsukka. “We believe we can transform Nigeria. I strongly believe our generation can change Nigeria.”
Chukwuemeka’s schoolmate, Meriela Nwodo, 15, said, “We can change the present violent situation and make the nation a better place.”
Festus Iyorah /
A large crowd gathered to hear from the American ambassador.