This year, students have taken center stage in pressing for action on climate change. KIS International School and Middle Years Program (MYP) graduate Lynn Nanticha Ocharoenchai stands among these young leaders. She organized this year’s Climate Strike Thailand and as a recent university graduate, aspires to make her mark in environmental journalism.
Through strikes, protests, and speeches to government leaders, students have begun to step forward to lead on issues related to Earth’s climate and the environment. Twenty-one-year-old student from Chulalongkorn University, Lynn Nanticha Ocharoenchai has joined this effort to become the organizer for Climate Strike Thailand. Lynn Nanticha was inspired by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg in 2018, when she received international visibility for her vow to strike every Friday in front of Swedish parliament.
The IB’s alumni relations team asked Lynn to tell us more about her work advocating for the environment and reflect on her days as an IB student in the Q&A below:
Listen to the full interview on the IB Voices podcast
Can you tell us a little bit about Climate Strike Thailand? How it started and how you became involved in it?
Climate Strike Thailand is a part of a global movement that’s been going on called Friday’s for Future, which was started by Greta Thunberg, from Sweden. Out of frustration, she just started striking in front of the Swedish Parliament and became the organizer of a huge global movement by demanding climate action and climate justice. She was very frustrated about how few people cared about climate change, and the environment in general, and that no one was doing anything.
I got involved after I came across an article about Greta, and I related a lot, especially to her frustration with the insignificant number of things being done for our environment and climate change. But seeing someone get up to do something about it was inspiring because I had felt this way for years, and that’s why I got into environmental journalism.
As a rising environmental journalist, what kind of challenges do you think you face now or in the future?
The biggest challenge is trying to understand the people who don’t really care about the environment. It’s become an essential part of who I am, so I can’t understand how people don’t realize just how important the environment is to our well-being and our survival. We have so much to thank the Earth for! But for me, I’ve shifted away from blaming people and instead asking why, to come to a middle ground and understand where climate change deniers are coming from. I try to find ways to show them what there is to care about from their own perspectives. Learning about the psychology of my audience, the Thai demographic or climate deniers even has become an essential part of my work.
If people wanted to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you share that you’ve found helpful along the way?
First, I would say when you have a big group of people you’re organizing, it’s a lot easier to work when you have a team to help you manage. I’ve been doing this mostly alone, with help here and there, so it’s a bit hard even though it’s possible. Also, with a team you have more outside advice and skills at your disposal, so you can focus on your strengths.
The second thing I’ve learned is that if you want to engage more and more people, you need to reach out to audiences outside of your current one. You don’t want to just encourage environmentalists because that’s just preaching to the choir. So, there are many different interests that you can put out to people and have them come into your cause. The way I frame climate change now is not just that we’re hurting the Earth, and that the polar bears are dying, but showing people that it is a violation of human rights, which impacts everyone. That’s the key to proving how relevant climate change is to all people; showing them how they can relate to it and how it impacts them directly.
What were your biggest takeaways from your time in the IB?
I would say that being in the IB helped me organize my thoughts through essay writing. Knowing the structure of a good essay taught me how to write a strong proposal. After the IB, essay writing feels like something natural. If I was to explain this on a bigger scale, the IB helps you when you talk to people, when you are trying to convince an audience, or you’re trying to present an idea. Also, aside from the curriculum itself, I think the way my IB teachers taught was hugely impactful. A lot of people ask me, “What inspired you to do this?” Honestly, if I had to tie it one thing it would be my environmental systems and societies (ESS) class with Mr. Park.
With Mr. Park, there was almost no need to open the textbook because it was as if he had read through the entire textbook and it was all in his head already. Then he teaches, and it’s this fantastic show about environmental science that was so easy to comprehend and absorb. One day of class that really stands out, even now—we were we were talking about landfills, and I remember I had a questions about the wastefulness of sanitary napkins. He said, “Lynn, what a great question! You’re completely right!” and then started elaborating on it. In any other class, my curiosity might have been met with a different outcome. But this was great because I got my question answered and I felt awesome! These experiences encouraged me to ask more questions. Everything I see in my life I can trace it back to that class.
Radhika Hira, Sky Brandt, and Miley Kongsiri contributed to this story as part of their ongoing work with the IB community and alumni.
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