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5 Indian Americans among J-8 participants

The students beat 65 school teams to represent the US at the G8 Summit's parallel meet in Germany, writes Shalini Kathuria Narang.

india Updated: Jun 07, 2007 18:39 IST

Five Indian American students are amongst eight students from the elite Harker Academy, a private school in San Jose, California representing US in the Junior 8 Summit in Germany. They would be joining President Bush and other world leaders to discuss pressing global issues like poverty, the environment, AIDS, economic development and intellectual property.

They beat 65 school teams nationwide to represent the United States at the Group of Eight (G8) Summit, an international forum of the world's leading industrial nations.

The youth representatives from the G8 countries meet during a parallel meeting, the Junior 8 or J-8 Summit in Wismar, Germany and convene with world leaders, including a private meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Sixteen-year-old Kavitha Narra, a junior, will stand next to President Bush when the youth groups present their communiqué - a distillation of the youth's perspectives and solutions to global problems to the world leaders.

"We just want to convey a message from the youth of the world," Kavitha said. "We're ready to get involved in our future, in our government, in our world. We just want to have them listen to us as young people."

Kavitha learned about the J-8 competition early this year while chatting on a UNICEF web site with an online student friend from Africa. She then enlisted Rachel Peterson, 17, also junior and other friends to join the competition.

With help from adviser Carol Zink and a Harker librarian, they submitted online a well-researched and articulate proposal about solving four global issues: global climate change and energy efficiency, economic development in Africa, HIV and AIDS, and new challenges for the global economy. The students divided into two-member teams to tackle each of the four global problems. In their winning entry, they quoted the anthropologist Margaret Mead: never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

All the students share the view that "global is local," and vice versa, and that young people have an important role to play in finding solutions to the world's problems.

"The good thing about this is that the kids are learning about global issues and applying their own thinking processes," said Kailash Kailash, a software engineer, father of Kritika Kailash, 16, one of the team members.

"As grown-ups, we are biased in our views," Kailash Kailash said. "We think about ourselves, our families, our jobs. The kids are more unbiased. The whole world is the same."

Rohit Nalamasu, 17, who is pursuing independent research on carbon nano tubes, teamed up with Kavitha to research HIV and AIDS. They suggested a clean-needle exchange for drug users in Russia to prevent the spread of HIV and proposed enlisting the help of celebrities and business kind of social icons to promote awareness in India and China.

"Society thinks that we are too young and we can't think about things like these," Rohit said. "But in the future, we'll be the ones making decisions. I hope they listen to us now.
I think young people have a different point of view about global issues. I think that is valuable for a lot of these issues," said David Kastelman, 15.

"I know that's going to be difficult," Kritika said. "But all of us combined will have really excellent ideas."

Kailash Kailash is in awe of the children's achievement. "It's a kind of lifetime achievement award," he said.

First Published: Jun 07, 2007 17:00 IST