When it comes to political activism within school, senior Estelle Lee is a familiar face to many. From speaking out at last year’s gun control walkout to being president of Amnesty International, Lee has certainly established themself as a major political voice at Northwood.
“While it’s nice to watch some political debates online or on the TV, I really think its a whole new experience going out and partaking in these events,” Lee said. “It’s really amazing to be able to meet so many like-minded people and it’s always good to be aware of what’s going on.”
As the Youth Liaison for the Democrats of Greater Irvine and the lead student organizer for the March on the National Rifles Association (NRA), Lee has participated in numerous rallies associated with gun control, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights this past summer.
One such event was the Road to Change voter registration town hall meetings created by the Parkland student activists. These students toured around the nation to combat low voter turnout, encouraging more students to become politically active. Lee was on the town hall panel along with other activists, discussing controversial issues such as gun control, police, immigration policies and other hot-button topics.
In addition, Lee attended the Truman Dinner, a fundraiser where a lineup of Democratic candidates gave speeches to highlight those running for Congress and their policies. At the event, multiple keynote issues were discussed such as immigration, gun control, environmental concerns, income inequality and minority rights.
“Activism is hard,” Lee said. “It’s really fun, but can get really frustrating. You have to constantly pick out the problems in society and contextualize them in a way that people who live completely different lives can understand.”
With their strong impression and depth of knowledge in the political sphere, it may come as a surprise that Lee was not highly involved in politics until their sophomore year.
“After speaking at the Women’s March last year, I realized what a passion I had to speak out and voice my opinions,” Lee said.
In order to push for change, Lee hopes that students who want to be actively involved in politics or activism should strive to be proactive and outspoken. Lee explains that a good introduction into the political sphere is critical education, a teaching method founded on radical philosophies that encourages students to question dominant ideologies.
“I’m a big supporter of critical education,” Lee said. “A lot of politicians don’t understand the background of marginalized communities they’re advocating for and the systems of power behind all the structural inequalities.”
Lee has even started a curriculum to try to educate and inform people about managing monthly seminars, distribution of pamphlets, books, PDFs and other forms of literature. Allowing the flow of information to be easily accessible for the public is essential for encouraging more critical, informed individuals and influencing change.
“The moments where I make people question themselves is when I think I create change,” Lee said. “Even if I can’t see the changes I make on a global or national scale, the lives I touch on a day-to-day basis makes it all worth it.”