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SHS Student Launches International Teen News Site

streetviewnewsSHS rising senior Jonah Miller has had the opportunity to meet students from around the country and around the world giving him the chance to understand other people's perspectives and experiences. His travels were the inspiration for the creation of a platform where teenagers have a place to voice their views so other teens around the world can learn.

Six months ago, Jonah launched a global newspaper written by teenagers for teenagers called Street View News that is now read in over sixty-six countries and forty-seven states. The newspaper provides teenagers, exclusively, with a voice to share their unique, "on the ground” views with the hope of bridging the cultural divide that unfortunately exists today.

We interviewed Miller about Street View News and asked him to share a surprising post about accusations of racism close to home which you can read below:

JonahMillerJonah MillerPlease describe Street View News and tell us about how you launched it, why and when.

Over the last several years, I have spent a lot of time with people from all over the world through various summer programs. Meeting people from countries I previously knew very little about has definitely expanded my worldview, strengthening my unique perspective on the world. I now spend hours reading about other countries’ politics and people in addition to talking with my international friends about their lives and geopolitical issues, broadening my perspective far outside of my bubble. Last summer, I asked some of these friends if they wanted to be the preliminary writers for a newspaper I wanted to create, later titled Street View News.

Overwhelmingly and enthusiastically, they agreed to start writing. As the founder and editor-in-chief, I have published over fifty articles online on topics ranging from the need for Gun Control in Alabama (written by a student in Birmingham, Alabama) and White Supremacy in Asia (written by a student in Singapore) to Honduras’s Fight During a Pandemic (written by a student in Tegucigalpa, Honduras). Receiving over 12,500 website views in total from over sixty countries and 47 states, Street View News has become a paper read across the entire world. Building relationships with dozens of my peers, each with distinct perspectives, has changed me as a person, making me culturally aware and knowledgeable. The goal of the paper is different than that of other news outlets: Street View News strives to educate rather than summarize. By providing a platform for students around the world to voice their experiences in the political world, the paper is able to educate the public from a personal, authentic, and on-the-ground perspective. Moreover, teenage voices are often missing from the global discussion of politics, and I knew that teenagers would be more inclined to learning about geopolitical topics if it came from their international peers rather than an adult. The first articles were posted in December 2019, and since then, articles have been published every two weeks on the website.

How do you deal with language issues and make the articles accessible to all?

Whenever a writer from outside the United States is interested in writing an article, I always ask whether they would rather write it in English or their native language, whichever would make it more accessible to their community and desired audience. More often than not, the writer, wherever they might live, chooses to write their article in English. There is, however, a Spanish section of the website in which all of the articles are written in Spanish from writers in Ecuador and Honduras. Moving forward, I would like to expand the website to include other languages.

What have been some of the surprising outcomes of the project?

Honestly, the most surprising outcome of this project is how eager students, some of whom with which I have no connections, are to write for the paper. Through the “contact” page on the website, I receive requests to write from people around the globe every day, which makes me feel as though I accomplished something big. One of my original goals was to bridge the cultural divide between kids from around the world, and while there is still much everyone can do to be more inclusive and open to other cultures, customs, and perspectives, Street View News has reached parts of the world and introduced foreign concepts and ideals I could have only dreamed of when starting this project.

How has the site been impacted by the COVID crisis?

For Street View News, everything is done virtually. I curate the articles over email, send updates over group chats on Instagram, advertise new pieces on various social media accounts, and, of course, publish the articles online. If anything, the COVID crisis has provided material writers often choose to explore. Since every city, state, and country has dealt with COVID-19 differently, writers are able to speak to what their respective government has done to regulate and quash the virus where they live. From individual articles such as “The Silent Revolution: Philippines Social Media During COVID-19” and “Un Grito de Ayuda: Honduras Lucha Durante Una Pandemia” (“A Cry For Help: Honduras’s Fight During a Pandemic”), which is written in Spanish, to the compilation of articles that is “PROJECT: COVID-19,” tracking experiences with COVID-19 across the US, Europe, and Asia, Street View News has published many articles regarding COVID-19, garnering the topic its own sub-section on the website. More Coronavirus-related articles will be published within the next few weeks, as well.

Do you plan to continue it when school starts next year?

Yes! I absolutely plan to continue running Street View News next year and after I graduate. Being the editor-in-chief of a global publication has taught me so much about leadership, organizing, and writing; the paper has truly opened my eyes to the world around me, connected me with new people from around the world, and introduced me to topics I would otherwise not have known much about. Moreover, it’s refreshing and comforting to hear teenage voices talk about their personal experiences.

How can people access it? Do you send out emails as well?

The website can be accessed via its URL, which is www.streeviewnews.com. While at the moment I do not send out emails, both the writers and I advertise heavily on Instagram. Street View News has its own account, @streetview.news (www.instagram.com/streetview.news).

Here is a sample post from Scarsdale’s Dani Paz:

DaniPazDani PazSilenced and Dismissed: My Fight Against Racism
by Dani Paz

Living in an affluent New York City suburb with minimal ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, I didn’t really know who I was growing up. As someone born in Brazil to Bolivian parents, it was certainly difficult attending school in a predominately white town, where racism presents itself early.

At a young age, I became ashamed of being Latina. I recall having a friend over who told me she felt uncomfortable when I spoke Spanish to my mother. Soon after, I started to conceal my ethnic features to fit in with my classmates, including even trying to make my lips smaller. Until my freshman year in high school, I did everything in my power to appear American. I even lied about liking Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

After Trump won the 2016 election, I began to embrace my ethnic culture. As one of the only Latinas in my school, I realized it was up to me to champion the Latinx community, otherwise, no one would. When I revealed myself as a proud Latina, however, many of my classmates manifested their true racist and xenophobic colors upon realizing I am not American.

Making sure I always felt unwelcomed and uncomfortable, the few Trump supporters in my seemingly Democratic town called me every slur in the book. The worst part, however, is how alone I constantly felt. Neither my school’s administration nor my friends defended me. I was told by people, whom I thought were my friends, that I needed to learn how to take a joke. The blatant racists at my school received absolutely no consequences, neither socially nor academically. The more I spoke out, the more people turned against me. Someone even threatened to fight me for standing up for myself, and the school, of course, did nothing. Ironically, the school’s role as a bystander is the opposite of what the district heavily promotes in its anti-bullying campaigns.

There are multitudes of options that the school could have taken to not only protect me but also to end the cyclical nature of racism. The easiest option, of course, is simply listening. Learning about racism must start when we are young. If children of color are never too young to experience racism, white kids are never too young to learn about it. The school needs to start hiring more teachers of color, incorporating books with characters of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds into the curriculum, and educating us on history that has not been white-washed by years of prejudice, helping students subconsciously learn that everyone is beautiful, regardless of what they look like. Uncomfortable conversations are more than necessary if we want constructive change. Additionally, the school could easily have given consequences to the racists which I reported time and time again. By not receiving any form of punishment, they are implicitly told that they can say anything, no matter how hurtful and ignorant, without consequences. In cases with racists, consequences should not equate to a call home. Perhaps, mandatory seminars and permanent marks on their records could help the racists learn about the hate they radiate. In addition, schools must create an environment where such behavior is condemned academically and students are alienated socially. Schools often believe they succeed in supporting the “Circle of Friends,” when so much more needs to be done to have it be embedded in the school fabric.

I understand that, as students, it can be difficult to stand up to our peers, especially to those who are considered more “popular”. As we get older, however, I hope we all realize that poor behavior should rule someone out from being “popular,” which is the kind of culture that we need to aspire to. It is critical for friends and classmates to realize that they need to speak up when others encounter racism and xenophobia. If you are silent, you are empowering the bigots and oppressors. Don’t be afraid to defend others and make these individuals feel outcasted and accountable. It is the only way they will stop!

Racist teenagers become racist adults who raise racist kids. We have to stop protecting them and start defending people of color. How? Education, accountability, listening, and support is the only way we can move forward as a society. We have to do better, plain and simple. I really do hope there is change. We so desperately need it. Ultimately, it starts with self-reflection. Let’s see if this particular community - and many others - can progress and truly institute what needs to be done.

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