The world can sometimes be overwhelming. Events happen that we cannot control, and decisions get made that we have no voice in. Or do we? Change happens when individuals decide to work together toward common goals, when people speak up—individually and in groups— and take steps to create a better future. In 2019, resolve to be one of those people. Whatever your political leanings, here are six things you can do this year to make a difference, from voting to volunteering to seeking a new career.
Vote in every election, no matter what it’s for.
Your vote counts. In every election. Whether you’re voting for a national candidate or electing a local school board member, you have the right to make your voice heard. Over the last 20 years, more than a dozen races were decided by a single vote or ended in a tie. And if you are still questioning your ability to make a difference: Millennials—and even more so Gen Z individuals— are poised to be the largest voting group in the U.S., far outpacing previous generations, including Baby Boomers. These generations are also more diverse than any previous generations that came before. That means if you’re in your 20s or early 30s, you hold tremendous potential to choose the leaders and influence the policies that will impact your life for years to come. Need help getting started? Register today.
Get educated on the issues facing our country by reading perspectives from both sides, not just ones you agree with.
It’s clearer than ever that social media filter bubbles—our tendency to only read and watch news that confirms our deeply held opinions—are driving us apart in an increasingly divisive time for our country. In order to come together as a community to solve society’s most pressing issues, we need to be able to work across lines of difference. But this isn’t possible when we limit our reading and conversations to only the perspectives with which we agree. And with the proliferation of disinformation online, it’s also important to make sure that the publications and social media accounts from which we get our news are truthful in their reporting. By reading objective coverage and exploring opinions from all sides of the issues we care about, we can identify the common goals we share and work toward them, informed by a multitude of perspectives. So make it a point to dig into in-depth reporting from respected sources and seek out opinions from across the political spectrum.
Volunteer to help others or advance a cause about which you’re passionate.
Nonprofit organizations look to volunteers to help fill the critical gaps in support for those most vulnerable. Whether you spend your time at a soup kitchen, a local hospice or nursing home, a school, or as a mentor to children, there are seemingly endless opportunities to step outside your comfort zone. Offering comfort, guidance, friendship, and just an hour of your time can enhance your sense of purpose, help you build new skills, pave a career, and most importantly, help change lives and provide essential support to those who need it. Volunteering also helps build stronger, empathetic, more cohesive communities—ones where we are able to gain insight into issues outside ourselves. So not only are you helping others in need, you’re seeing your world and community through a broader lens and greater perspective. Search for volunteer opportunities.
Show up to community meetings, rallies, and other civic events.
From the public library to town hall, there are local civic gatherings happening all the time, all around you, if you know where to look for them. These are opportunities for the community to come together, learn about issues of importance, hear from your elected leaders, and make your voices heard to influence decisions and outcomes. Most government meetings (think town or city council) are open to the public, and there are any number of civic gatherings, meetings, and rallies, held by organizations like the League of Women Voters, political parties, issue-focused activist organizations, and MeetUps. In addition to getting informed and speaking your mind, these are a great way to meet other members of your community who are engaged with the same issues you care most about. And remember, it doesn’t matter if you only recently moved to a new town, don’t plan on staying long-term, or live somewhere part-time, like a college campus—it’s still your community, and you have every right to get involved in it and have a say in how it’s run.
Use social media to amplify marginalized voices and call out hate.
You can make your social media time more meaningful by being a vocal ally to marginalized individuals. Use your presence on social media to amplify, not drown out, the voices of activists in historically excluded groups and those who are most proximate to the issues you care about. By doing this, you show solidarity with members of marginalized groups, acknowledge their contribution and the work they do, and—most importantly—allow them to tell their stories on their terms. Likewise, use your platform to call out and denounce hate, misogyny, bigotry, and racism where you see it. This sends a strong message that you will not tolerate hate speech in any form within your online community, not even passively.
Get a job that makes a difference.
From the Peace Corps to socially conscious start-ups to teaching or healthcare, many jobs allow you to work in service to others while still collecting a paycheck and advancing your career. Working in a career that positively affects others’ lives and works to create a better future gives you a chance to change the world in so many ways.
Joining Teach For America as a classroom leader is one of the most direct ways to influence future generations and work to solve some of the most pressing challenges our country faces. No matter what grade or subject you teach, you can change lives every day by inspiring your students to engage in their education, pursue challenging career paths, and reimagine their future. And it may just lead you to find your life’s passion and career path in working on their behalf for life, whether as a teacher or in another sector.
So if you’re looking to change the world, in 2019 and beyond, consider seeking an opportunity to work with like-minded leaders to disrupt the status quo and push our society toward a more equitable future. Search for great opportunities in your community and consider applying to Teach For America today.