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The Unfamiliar and the Unpredictable, by Maya Faison

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My name is Maya Faison, I'm a freshman at Adelphi University. I am passionate about the future of our species as well as others and the planet on which we reside. I aspire to be the change I want to see in the world and pay it forward as much as possible. 

Climate change to me is hurricane Sandy, the most brutal storm I’ve ever had to endure. I studied climate change and it was an abstract concept happening all over the world that I wanted to stop, until it was in my own front yard. Trees were down everywhere and when they fell they took power lines with them. The ground was wet and at night you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Every car was still in its spot, there was no music playing, no kids shouting, there was dead silence.

Climate change is watching something you love, that you could once set your watch by become unfamiliar and unpredictable. The winters I once eagerly awaited with lily-white snow to plop down in while my mother shoveled have become monstrous leaving us overwhelmed. The summers I once dreaded for being too sunny, something other people love, have become unbearably hot and stifling with humidity.

Hurricane Sandy left me fearful for the future I hoped to have. I hear about killer storms all over the world, they happen all the time but rarely do they ever make it to my backyard. I always thought New York was special in that way and I’d never have to worry about that.  I never thought it will be me and my neighborhood the newscaster would be reporting on, but I know now to never say never.

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Just a little over a year ago hurricane Sandy came in and left devastation in its wake. In movies tragedy looks abrupt, like a whirlwind, but in reality tragedy is slow and it drags on and on. You worry so much about tomorrow, waiting to see if the lights will come one and when it does you’re stuck in the same dark reality. It was cold, dark, and uncertain for days. My family and I stayed in one room to ride the storm out, the wind was vicious and with so many trees on my block we knew it was only a matter of time before one came crashing through the window. I was lucky to be with my family, and to be in contact with those not with us, but what if next time I’m not there? What if I can’t get in contact with them? I worry about not being able to get to my family, I worry the medics won’t be able to get to them if need be. I worry about them being able to adjust to the rapidly changing weather and what comes with that, the sickness and new obstacles that have yet to surface.

As I grow up my mother, aunt and grandmother grow older, what does climate change mean for them? How many storms will they have to stock up for and endure? Will I have to leave New York for climatic peace? Is any place safe from the changes our world is being forced to go through?

I believe Hurricane Sandy was a push, a push to a future where we recognize climate change and don’t push it to the side because it isn’t an immediate threat. Other nations, big and small, have been facing the impacts of climate change much harder then we have here in New York which allowed us to separate ourselves from the problem. We can’t say it doesn’t affect us, we can’t say it isn’t scary because it is a problem for every person no matter where they reside and ignoring it or delegating who will deal with it isn’t going to help. It didn’t help in the past and now we’re out of time to stall.

New York is the dynamic, magical place, not just to New Yorkers, but to the international community and I believe if New York makes a big move to slow climate change and preserve the world we have others would follow. Steps as small as the implementation of courses for students of all ages regarding living a greener life and respecting Earth as well as how important moderation is can make a big difference. Education is the key to a brighter future with innovative thinkers able to get a handle on climate change. It only takes one person to touch thousands, imagine the impact of a state in solidarity on the world stage taking a stand and actively working to stall climate change. It would go down in history and set the tone for the rest of the world. 

"Rethinking Home: Climate Change in New York and Samoa" is a Museum Connect Project sponsored by The U.S Department of State and The American Alliance of Museum. Maya will be traveling with us to Samoa in May as part of the Rethinking Home project!

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