Mikaela Nguyen

Mikayla Nguyen – MLC Burwood School Captain
Mikaela Nguyen – MLC Burwood School Captain

MLC Burwood School Captain
16 years of age
Future diplomat
Nickname: Mickey

The daughter of Vietnamese migrants, Mikaela is a self-starter who has chosen to do the International Baccalaureate instead of the HSC and is taking all higher level subjects. She’s a self-confessed all-rounder, independent and motivated. She’s a confident speaker with a relaxed style that invites conversation.

IN SHORT

  • Lockdown has created more fear and fear leads to xenophobia
  • Tokenism was alive during Black Lives Matter
  • Social media has changed how youth see themselves as the technology has evolved

FROM MIKAELA

Today's climate, if anything, has shown that a global effort is really what we need to move forward. But in today's society, people are scared to hear other people's perspectives and people almost live in fear of other cultures. Breaching that gap is really important. Being in lockdown has forced everyone to retreat within themselves. And that fear of the unknown really compels the sense of xenophobia within society.

Whilst some leaders are sympathetic, what we see in Australian politics is that politicians tend to focus on their own goals. And often that is to do with the economy and they don't really look beyond themselves, which I think can be a fault in politics today.

People have really taken almost a nationalistic and protectionist association with their leadership. And whilst they have tried to be kind and be empathetic, I think they've prioritized other things above that, like their own countries and their own agendas.

People often characterize youth as being social media obsessed or just being obsessed with themselves. But I think youth really do have a lot to offer, especially because youth have lots of experiences and they go through lots of challenges like mental health and growing up in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on the school, especially when we went into remote learning, everyone was very separated and we lost that sense of community that's very prevalent in a school environment because you see everyone every day. A big part of that challenge was a lot of students suffered from mental health issues or their mental health did take a particular hit because having people around them was no longer an option.

What I'd like to achieve is really creating a community in which everyone feels comfortable to speak. I come from an immigrant family, so having a platform to which I can speak, and having a room in which I can be heard is really important. Having a community in which I feel welcome really helps to build individuality, I want everyone at school to feel that way.

Youth have primarily benefited from social media because it's made the world such a small place and we really have access to all sorts of information, and each other online, at the click of a button.

But the challenge I see is that social media today has become less of the warm and inviting community that it was before. Now it's much more about appearances and being what people want you to see.

So an example with the Black Lives Matter movement, when people were all posting those black squares for Blackout Tuesday, people did it not because they were particularly interested but because they felt that they needed to put forward a front and a façade. While some people were interested, that meant that a lot of people had to do something because they felt obligated.

To find connections on social media is very, very difficult, but I think personally what works best is just choosing people that you align with and ensuring that you choose to follow people or interact with people who you really know or who really inspire you.

If Scott Morrison was here today, I would ask him how his perception of leadership was challenged by his role in leadership. When you talk to leaders, it's very interesting to see what they see in the role is very different to what they expect in the role. Also, how his political goals have been challenged in his role and how there's been barriers towards him achieving his goals.

I'd really like to talk with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she faced so many challenges in being one of the first females in her situation. And I really want to talk to her about how she continued to drive and how she continued to persevere despite all the challenges she faced. For women, it's very easy to get beaten down and to lose motivation, especially when no one's done it before you. I'd like to know from her and her experiences, what drove her to continue and how she motivated herself.

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