Laura Zhang has always treasured meeting and learning from diverse people across the globe, each with their own culture, way of life, and adversities to overcome. After listening to the stories of several undocumented college students and people from a refugee safe house in Arizona, she was inspired to make meaningful change in the immigrant and refugee community. She created Sharing Stories to reduce education inequality and amplify the raw voices of humanity.
Run by a team of teenage students, Sharing Stories collects and donates books and learning materials to programs and locations hosting immigrants and refugees. On top of providing these materials, Sharing Stories aims to both spread awareness about global issues and empower youth with resources to make purposeful change. In their first community event, Sharing Stories collected nearly 3,500 books and raised $600 to fund learning resources for refugee shelters. They have supported over 15 partner organizations equally passionate about empowering and supporting their communities. Laura describes, “The places our materials go range from fully developed literacy programs to simple sidewalk schools at the border, and by starting with books, we were able to enhance the situations of many who may face obstacles based on their [citizenship] status.”
From a young age, Laura has seen the power of storytelling in strengthening communities and relationships, and she strongly believes that youth can be drivers of change by personally tackling the issues they feel passionate about. She demonstrates this determination in her other passions as well - she is a violinist and has been involved in a number of music nonprofits and fundraisers. In addition, she loves to travel, having visited 14 countries. Laura hopes to spread awareness about human rights and the importance of advocacy through Sharing Stories and continued activism.
The organization’s Instagram account features the Sharing Stories Interview Series, highlighting immigrant, DACA recipient, undocumented, and refugee stories on pursuing education and advocacy and engaging in a dialogue about these peoples’ lives. This emotional series enables the Instagram community to have a closer look at the struggles that refugees and immigrants face.
In the future, Sharing Stories hopes to shift their focus to creating an online community for anyone interested in activism, human rights, or simply learning more and engaging with new people. This platform would incorporate middle schoolers all the way to college aged students in their work. Laura and the rest of the Sharing Stories team believe that building a global community will inspire others in our generation to act upon big issues.
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