Personal History: 5,000 Voices Advocating for the Environment

By Helena Zdziech 

According to 350.org, last Friday around 4 million students from all around the world left school, went out on their streets holding banners, telling the world to listen and take notice of the earth’s deteriorating environment. It was a day I will never forget. We filled the streets with our chants, stopped Warsaw traffic and enjoyed the last sunny day of September. 

Photo by Helena Zdziech

No one had known about the strike; my friends have been planning they’re evenings and when they had heard about the strike they decided to convince their parents to let them not go to school. We decided to wake up early and drive to the city. We got to the city center and saw teenagers of all ages walking to the starting point. 10 minutes passed and the area began to fill up more and more. We squeezed all together by the Constitution Square. Anticipation and anxiousness filled our hearts as we waited for the walk around the city. Once it finally began the music started to blast from the speakers and the signs were thrust up in the air by hundreds of hands.

Photo by Helena Zdziech

 I remember looking around and seeing how different everyone was from each other. Our clothes were different, some of us had makeup on, others had pink or purple hair. We were a crowd of kids of all ages, representing our generation; taking pictures with our iPhones, creating hashtags, stopping regular life to make our city hear us. We chanted, jumped and relished in our entity. I talked to a few people I met at the strike and many of them said they did not know much about the climate issues; they went to the strike to educate themselves. It is an ironic thought that many of us had to leave school, the place where we learn, to inform ourselves about the importance of these issues.

The strike ended with all 5,000 of us walking to the Palace of Culture. The organizers of the strike had set up a little stage for themselves. We all stood around them, anticipating them to represent us with their speeches in front of the TV cameras pointed at them, as they gripped their microphones. My friends and I watched the group of teens peer into the camera and read out the demands of the strike. They concluded the day, showing all of the adults watching us on their TVs that September 20 was the day we would be heard and that we have power in numbers. 

Every teen is different, and we all tend to feel alone in the world with no one to talk to. That Friday was the day where we all had 5,000 hands to hold, 5,000 voices to yell and show those that did not want to listen that the Earth is in big trouble. 5,000 young minds united in a vision of ending problems and creating solutions. 

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