My One Cent: Olivia Faulkner
My One Cent: Olivia Faulkner
Olivia Faulkner is a 17-year-old high-school student from Portland, Oregon. She has been advocating for CARE ever since she was 13-years old and briefed a Congressional staffer on Capitol Hill about Syrian refugee statistics. We asked Olivia why she CAREs and she shared her One Cent story:
I am really passionate about using American resources to help people in developing countries have better lives, especially women and adolescent girls. I don’t see myself first and foremost as a citizen of the United States. I see myself as a citizen of the world and it matters to me that we help people in developing countries. They deserve the same resources and opportunities that I have been blessed with and grown up with. And, as a citizen of a very fortunate country, it’s our duty to help those in need.
I could advocate for a lot of issues but there are so many things about foreign assistance and humanitarian aid that are important to me. If we’re looking at it from a viewpoint of how it benefits America, we just have to look at the many charities and organizations that provide American jobs. There are a lot of Americans who are flying American doctors and engineers into disaster zones to provide emergency services. If we cut the foreign assistance budget, these American humanitarian organizations are going to feel it and America will face significant job losses.
I also advocate for CARE because it’s among the humanitarian organizations that introduce family planning services in developing countries. The more family planning services there are, the greater impact we’ll have on decreasing climate change, which is an issue that every citizen should be worrying about at this point and something my generation is particularly concerned about. More birth control and smart family planning in developing countries means fewer people, less resource use and eventually, a decrease in global warming.
I was introduced to lobbying by my mom and it’s been an incredibly empowering experience. I live in a liberal bubble where most of my friends think the same things that I do. It has been really helpful and empowering throughout my life to know that, when things happen that I don’t agree with, like many of the decisions the current Administration is making, I’m not powerless. I can work with organizations like CARE to make sure that the things that are important to me get noticed by the government.
I can’t vote yet, but age isn’t really an excuse not to be involved. If everybody falls back on, “How big of a difference can I make?” then nothing will ever happen. In my experience, staffers and Members of Congress really want to hear from younger generations. It’s very impactful when somebody young knows a lot and is really passionate about a subject. Also, we’re future voters and that means a lot too. In future years, if they can keep us happy, we can keep them in office.
For anyone looking for an avenue to really engage and make a difference, I think advocacy is the way to do it. It’s not something anybody regrets plus it directly benefits you. For me personally, advocating for CARE helped me learn how the government works. It helped me feel more confident in the government and my potential influence on the government. I know that a 17-year-old girl from Portland isn’t going to be able to decide what happens in the government but I also know that I’m not completely powerless. Somewhere my voice matters, and that’s really important during times when I don’t agree with a lot of what’s going on. It’s an important way for me to be able to take back control.