A young commissioner

She never imagined testifying before the United Nations. She never imagined being present at the U.N., but junior Alisha Zhao proposed ideas and plans for overseers at UN Women for Agenda 2030.

Agenda 2030 aims to increase sustainable development  and universal peace through poverty depletion.

Delegates from various nations, cultures and backgrounds tendered bids on how to resolve these issues, while some shared anecdotes, Zhao says.

Following the assembly, participants divided into workshops which fixated on different parts of Agenda 2030. Zhao explored the youth empowerment role in global policy work along with a Malala workshop, a tribute to female education activist Malala Yousafzai.

Also a  Human Rights Commissioner, she offers recommendations to the Portland City Council and mayor Charlie Hales regarding policy, advocacy and education. Zhao seeks to examine and deal with human rights violations in the city, such as administration of justice and housing. Alongside other commissioners, she develops solutions to combat these issues, following a parliamentary procedure.

Zhao also serves on the Housing Rights Task Force subcommittee of Portland which employs policies to improve plights such as homelessness and displacement.

Zhao sought to serve on Portland’s Human Rights Campaign to “amplify her voice” and urge other young adults to work in “traditionally adult bodies.”

“She is a major source of pride for the Commission,” HRC chair Chabre Vickers says.

As a sophomore, Zhao was inspired by the HRC’s objective to protect human rights. She also realized that the body only consisted of adults, even though the application stated that appointments would not discriminate on age. Zhao, aware of the significance of youth involvement, pursued the position.

Zhao regards her service in the Human Rights Commission as “one of the most valuable experiences” of her life. She adds even though human rights advocacy is not “everybody’s cup of tea” there exist many opportunities to participate  in the community while also enjoying it.

She advises to be unafraid of risk-taking and to “push boundaries.”

“High school is the time to experiment and explore possibilities,” Zhao says, and the experiences extracted from them will endure.