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Cayman Parent | Articles | Community | Q&A: Cayman’s Young Activists

Q&A: Cayman’s Young Activists


As many parents are aware, we are currently raising the next generation of Cayman’s youth. With rising social injustice dominating conversation around the world, ranging from issues within realms of racial prejudice, environmental degradation, and homophobia, we are bound to find youngsters who demand for a change. To get an insight into the minds of Cayman’s young activists, we asked four of those spearheading rising movements to give us their thoughts about the future, the global pandemic, and much more.


Ben Somerville

Ben Somerville is 17 years old and attends Cayman International School. He is the leader of the youth environmental organisation, Protect Our Future, which provides a platform for the youth of Cayman to speak on environmental issues.

Who has inspired you the most during your school life?

It would have to be my brother. I saw how he was accepted into a good university due to how hard he worked in high school. I envied this, so I began to work as hard.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Ideally I would have a job based around mechanics and mechanical engineering; either designing machinery that is more eco friendly or working on boats back here in Cayman.

Do you have any concerns about the future?

My biggest concerns about the future stem from global warming and the wellbeing of our environment. With new science it’s becoming evident that we are in a crisis and our environment will not survive unless we change. However, I worry that it may be too late by the time people realise how important this is.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

All my work with Protect Our Future. Winning the Central Caribbean Marine Institutes “People’s Choice Award”, and fighting against the proposed cruise berthing facility.

What makes you really angry and why?

The thing that makes me most angry is ignorance about environmental issues. It is one thing to be uneducated on an environmental issue, but it is another to completely understand what is occurring and blatantly ignore it.

What did you learn about yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown?

I learnt that I am a person who needs the outdoors. When we were limited on the amount of time we could spend outside, I found it really difficult to maintain productivity and positivity.


Dejea Lyons

Dejea Lyons is 17 years old and attends Cayman International School. She is Vice President of Protect Our Future and a Youth Ambassador for Plastic Free Cayman.

What have you enjoyed most about growing upon a Caribbean island?

I loved growing up around the rich culture of my Island. From the food, to the history, to the arts, I just love it all. I think it was a big part of my happiness as a child.

Do you have any concerns about the future?

A lot of the decisions made by people in power are driven by greed instead of what will be more beneficial for the future. It will be hard to reverse the damage that has been done once my generation is able to step into those positions of power.

Do you think there is too much pressure on young people to perform and achieve good grades at school?

Yes. I do not think that it is fair that a letter or a number will define where you end up in life.

What makes you really angry and why?

When people try to tell me I am wrong because I am a young person. This happened a lot when I was doing the port project. I was constantly told “You do not know what you’re talking about” or that “You are being brainwashed by people” even though I had facts from many sources that illustrated why the project would be so detrimental to our Island.

Do you have a favourite author or particular book and why?

My favourite book of all time is ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes’ by Eleanor Coerr. It taught me about peace and perseverance.

What did you learn about yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown?

I learnt that I do not prioritise my mental health as much as I should. I get so caught up in my life that I never really take time for myself when I should be taking breaks.


 

Steff McDermott

Steff McDermott, 19 years old, is an Ocean Ambassador at UCCI. She was part of the Sail for Climate Action team and was due to sail across the Atlantic this year.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

It would have to be my involvement with Sail for Climate Action as the Caribbean Coordinator. The aim was to raise Latin American and Caribbean youth voices across the Atlantic ocean for climate action. In two months we raised $50,000, recruited 20 participants and organised a world tour. I was proud to accomplish so many goals and make a few dreams come true even though the Covid-19 pandemic cut it short. With that said, we are still communicating and creating an updated version of the project called ‘Unite for Climate Action’.

What have you enjoyed most about growing up on a Caribbean island?

My best childhood memories are from Cayman Brac and Little Cayman where I was either fishing, lobstering, conching, exploring the bush, building shelters, rafts and giant fire pits. I loved playing outdoors, hunting and cooking as well as building things from the natural materials around us.

Do you have a favourite author or particular book and why?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It inspired me to take the risk to travel for Sail for Climate Action and to continue following my path.

If you were offered three months to travel to any countries in the world, where would you go and why?

I would travel the Caribbean Sea to visit all of the Caribbean Islands and coastal communities. The Caribbean is so diverse but we share a lot of history, culture and lifestyle. I could connect with key environmental figures so that we may create a coalition of Caribbean youth environmentalists.

What did you learn about yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown?

I have learnt that persistence is the key for success and that if I don’t keep up with the little things I will never achieve the big goal.


Zoe Sulisz

Zoe Sulisz, 18 years old, created Cayman’s first youth group for the LGBTQ+ community, Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I see myself as a teacher or counsellor in a high school working with at risk adolescents. I have been inspired by all my teachers. The support of a good educator can create a positive change in this world.

Do you have a favourite author or particular book and why?

Lang Leav is my favourite author/poet. My favourite book is ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas. Her writing allows for the readers to feel the struggle and the pain which people of colour are forced to live with.

If you were offered three months to travel to any countries in the world, where would you go and why?

I would go to China because I am half Chinese and I would want to see where my grandparents and family grew up and came from.

What have you enjoyed most about growing up on a Caribbean island?

The culture. I would want my own children to grow up here so that they have the Caymanian culture in them. I will always see and define myself as Caymanian.

What makes you really angry and why?

What makes me angry is seeing the blatant disrespect and apathy that people show, not only to fellow humans, but to the environment. It makes me upset when I see someone hurting another and disregarding the fact that people have feelings and ‘baggage’ of their own.

If you could go for dinner with a famous person, who would it be and why?

I would go to dinner with Greta Thunberg because she is such an inspiration. How one girl can strike global protest is amazing. She is young and unafraid. She is strong and determined.


 

 

 
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