One thing parents and adults share about youths today in the country, is their historical apathy when it comes to participating in their civic duty during election cycles. But one area they seem to have no shortage of ideas, is complaining about things and how they are.
It is against these backgrounds that Santa Clarita global development advocate and film maker, Zuriel Oduwole, is lending her voice to encourage California’s youth to participate in determining the direction of the state at all levels.
“What I have l learned, is that the power of ONE person, matters,” Oduwole said. “More importantly today, is the power and the voice of we youth; those of us aged 18 – 25. We can truly make a difference.”
The 18-year-old said we as a community need to share ideas and get involved in the current affairs of California.
“In 2017, I spoke at an event in Paris, at the Place De La Concorde as part of a program to talk about the power of youth in an election season,” Oduwole said. “On the first day of the week long event organized by Printemp Solidaire, over 500,000 youths showed up, to listen to us all speak. But guess what. Just ten days later, France elected its youngest President since the Republic was founded more than 200 years ago, in the person of President Emmanuel Macron”.
Oduwole is no stranger to adding her voice to either championing herself, or to being a part of influencing positive change around the globe, having already met personally with over 30 world leaders to find ways to ensure a safer and wholesome world for all citizens.
At the age of 13, she led a peace initiative in New York between Guyana and Venezuela, over the disputed Essequibo oil Territory, first sitting with President David Granger of Guyana to speak in a childlike manner, about whom the real casualties of war would always be – children, all of whom always have no decision in the start of such a war.
A year later at the age of 14, she was honored at the State Department by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, for her global initiatives since the age of 10, that advocates for out of school girls across the globe, especially in Africa.
The global COP23 conference on Climate in Bonn – Germany was her next global stage at the age of 15. She spoke on behalf of the worlds youth about the effects and reality of rising sea levels and a “changed climate” from what we were all used to – something Californian’s are all too familiar with, with the wild fires and droughts.
It was at the age of 16 in 2018 that she met with President Filipe Nyusi in Mozambique, a country with a high rate of girl marriage, to talk about the importance of girls being educated, showing herself and her achievements as an example of why. A year later in the summer of 2019, Mozambique formally outlawed child marriage.
At 17, Zuriel sat down with her first Arab leader – President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt, during the Arab blockade of Qatar, to discuss a wide range of issues, covering peace and stability in the region, and the voice of youths, especially young women in Egypt and the Arab world. It was the first time an American teenager was meeting an Arab leader, on national television – a very symbolic development in the Middle-East.
Now just 18, she is lending her voice yet again but now domestically in the United States, at a critical time in California’s history, a state where she was born and raised.