When we consider some of the strongest forces in our world, one common theme emerges: connection. The connection we share with others, specifically through friendship, enables us to broaden our worldview and become more empathetic.
How do we build more of those connections– especially the ones that make us challenge preconceived notions and help us break out of our bubbles?
In a quest to find an answer, we, 16-year-old juniors Gia Gupta, Armaan Gupta, and Karina Gupta co-founded the non-profit organization Little Mentors.
We aim to cultivate more empowering conversations globally, bringing people together from around the world to engage in dialogue that breaks down barriers of ignorance and divide. We host meetings and reunions bringing teenagers from Brazil, India, Nepal, Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, and more together to collectively build friendships and ensure mutual learning.
For instance, we worked with our local governor’s office to launch a multimedia anti-racism initiative to educate youth on how we can fight forces of hate and discrimination through productive conversation. Additionally, we foster conversation on topics like stereotypes and prejudices of people from different backgrounds and challenge those assumptions by bringing teenagers together from different countries like Mexico and the United States.
Over the years, we have tried to inspire people across the world into community service whether it is through hosting annual musical therapy sessions – raising thousands of dollars – to bring smiles to kids with disabilities or hosting painting sessions to brighten the Ronald McDonald House. Through these different initiatives, we enable our mentors to bring their talents and passions to us and help them use them to make a difference.
Along with connecting with each other, we also connect with the leaders and storytellers of today like Broadway actors, NYT Best-selling authors, Shark Tank founders, Holocaust Survivors to help inspire our generation into change-making roles.
Over the years, we have expanded through partnerships with Little Mentors chapters in high schools and other organizations that align with our mission. We have created partnerships with schools across the world to curate long-standing friendships that even go beyond our own organization.
In the end, we know as teenagers it is hard to change the world. But that doesn’t mean it is not possible. And it doesn’t mean it is not simple either. Sometimes you have to just go back to the basics: friendship, human connection. The strongest forces have the strongest potential to change the world.