For Luna Abadia, a successful Rotary youth exchange experience in Japan (2019-20) was hardly any closure in her young life--despite having to return to Portland four months early due to Covid-19.
Rather, in the Feb. 8 introduction by PPRC y.e. chair Dawn Schneider, that experience helped shape the Lincoln High School senior's activism for climate change. Said Dawn: "She is very passionate and taking action to change the world."
Cited as Luna's accomplishments:
• Founded her own climate change nonprofit--www.effectiveclimatechange.org.
• Youth delegate to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland (Oct.-Nov. 2021).
• Honored as a 2021 International "Young Eco-Hero" by the Action for Nature group which cited Luna's project to "facilitate free climate simulation workshops to inspire others to advocate for ambitious environmental action." (Among her audiences was a simulation for Pearl Rotary.)
• Created her own virtual connections with other young climate activists from the UK, Uruguay, Japan and Brazil. Said Luna of her peers: "We are all facing climate change and its impact in one way or another."
Speaking virtually to PPRC, Luna delivered her message with an ever-present smile while stressing the seriousness of the crisis facing Planet Earth.
The "visceral fear" and "eco-anxiety" she personally experiences arise from a relationship "with nature and the need to protect the environment where I grew up in the Northwest." One experience on a Japanese beach during her y.e. year was also impactful. She found herself "with grains of sand mixed in with broken bits of plastic."
Feeling lonely in her concerns about negative environmental change resulted from observing young people disinterested and oblivious to the issue. What Luna viewed as a crisis had "no huge societal reckoning," she observed. "Climate apathy in youth frustrated me greatly," she said.
Today as her h.s. graduation looms, Luna continues to reach out to both youth and adult audiences. For Rotarians meeting at Ecotrust and also virtually, she present a handout on how each could help change the world. She encouraged individual acts for change including supporting green energy, reversing subsidies for fossil fuels and reducing carbon consumption.
She even challenged the Rotary District 5100 youth exchange committee's training regimen for future outbound students "to help them engage in conversations on climate while on exchange."
When she closed, Luna was lauded by both Lincoln Principal Peyton Chapman and Rotary President Jonelle Anderson:
"Hearing you and seeing you makes me feel more hopeful."
"I'm environmentally charged this morning."