Samantha, 23

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Empathy is the secret sauce to all the good that’s come out of the last hundred years. Being able to feel for each other and acknowledge our struggles is important if we’re ever going to move out of our rut. Being a better listener has helped me make new friends, learn from my mistakes, and interrogate what I want from the next chapters of my life.
— Samantha, 23

I like books, podcasts, and trashy romance novels. 

One thing that surprises other Malaysians about me is that I speak pretty good Bahasa Malaysia. I think there's a stereotype that despite being raised in a multicultural education system, the ability of many urban non-Malay individuals to engage with Bahasa Malaysia is pretty stunted. It's our national language! If we demean the language, it makes it difficult for us to engage with a large portion of the country. 

I'm good at cooking perfect pasta, writing (especially writing Christmas card messages), translating medieval English, and talking to people. 

One thing I'm proud of is the fact that I've learned to be a good listener. I was told this a few years ago, and it's really come to define how I think of myself and how I relate the world and my work. So much of the time, we forget to really hear other people and their circumstances, and empathise with them. Empathy is the secret sauce to all the good that's come out of the last hundred years. Empathy is also sorely lacking in our workplaces, our government, and the public spaces we share. Being able to feel for each other and acknowledge our struggles is important if we're ever going to move out of our rut. We need to find some way of relearning it. Being a better listener has helped me make new friends, learn from my mistakes, and interrogate what I want from the next chapters of my life. 

I decided to be a voter because of the West Wing TV series. As cheesy as this sounds, this American TV series about the government's potential impact and capability for good was really important for my political consciousness. It hammered home the ways the government can and will ignore you if you don't speak up. I want marginalised, everyday people to have a voice in our echo chamber of a political scene. The fundamental building block of our society is the right to vote. And then we can start thinking about how to organise and agitate for better representation. 

I'm most worried about climate change, government accountability and transparency, and discrimination and income inequality. 

These issues matter to me because I've seen what happens when people are marginalised and trapped in a cycle of poverty. Poor people are more likely to feel the worst effects of a warming climate, and the recent storm activity is proof that we're heading towards an unsustainable future. 

I wish I knew more about geopolitics, the tax system, how to organise grassroots political power. 

I want other young people to know that we're doing all right. The world and previous generations expect us to be like them, to want what they want, to see and define ourselves to what they think is appropriate. You're doing okay, you have a voice, and you matter! We're waking up. And we're okay. 

Watan1994, Selangor