Written by Robyn Shulman, M.Ed.
I am privileged to share this interview about Max Weiss. He is a senior in high school with big plans to make the world a better place. He uses his voice through the written word, and he is the epitome of youth making a difference in the world. I hope you can join me as I watch where this young man goes, as he has already began to make his mark.
My Conversation with Max Weiss…
Who are you? Tell me about your background, schooling, college plans?
My name is Max Weiss and I am a senior in high school. I grew up as a middle class kid in the suburbs. I have been blessed with parents who support me in every way, but especially, emotionally. My favorite extracurricular activity in high school is Model UN (MUN). In MUN, we discuss current and sometimes past political topics and do our best to come up with innovative solutions to issues. Sometimes we write to political figures to share our ideas and hope that they can be implemented in reality.
I have had the opportunity to compete against students from all over the country at conferences including Brown and Northwestern. I have represented countries as big as the U.S. and as small as the Netherlands. I have also covered topics from helping Small Island states develop to the legality of the death penalty with drug crimes. I have won several awards for my ability to remain on policy despite my personal objections to what I am arguing. I have also been awarded for my public speaking skills and my ability to compose a position paper on my country’s stance on an issue.
I plan on continuing in Model UN in college. I am also involved in Student Congress. Along with classmates, we have introduced numerous bills to help reform our high school.
Since college is only a year away for me, I have been considering what I want to do in life. I plan on going into politics and/or the diplomatic corps; therefore, I am looking into schools with strong political science and/or international relations programs. I currently intern for an Illinois State Representative and want to find a school that offers superb internship possibilities.
I noticed you have a great deal of passion for helping others. Do you want to help others inside your own community, state, country and/or all of these?
In Judaism, we believe in tikkun olam or repairing the world. I believe it is not enough to talk about what is wrong. Rather, it requires action. For example, when I was seven or eight years old, I wrote a letter to my local village about snow piling up on sidewalks near our schools. For safety reasons, I wanted the village to require residents to shovel the snow from their sidewalks.
I also participated in Best Buddies. Best Buddies provides a special opportunity for connection between students. We form one-on-one friendships with students who may have intellectual and developmental disabilities. This organization enables youth to bridge the gap between those with disabilities and those without.
Most recently, I contacted my Congressmen and Senators regarding the kidnapping by Boko Haram of the schoolgirls in Nigeria, the student loan crisis, and support for Israel. I have also written to them in regard to campus rape and other college related issues.
I believe that helping others in my own community now will help our society as a whole become a better place.
Has technology played a role in your passion?
Without a doubt, technology has profoundly influenced my passion for politics. Without it, I would never be able to remain updated about what is going in the world. On my phone, I can quickly access information through Facebook, Twitter, or the New York Times app. Also, I am grateful that my school is able to provide each student with an IPad; this allows us to enhance our learning abilities both in and outside of our classes.
What are your passions outside of social good?
My passions tend to be political ones. A quick look at my Facebook or Twitter feed will prove that. I also like to golf and have become a hockey fan over the years (Go Hawks)! I enjoy school. I have a deep love of learning new things and I want to expand my horizons. I must thank my parents for patiently encouraging my boundless curiosity.
What are the most important social issues that concern you today?
Great question by the way. I would say that partisanship is a huge issue. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is polarizing to one side or the other. We have good people who want to see their communities and our country succeed, but their efforts get lost behind the political rhetoric. We need our public officials, or those seeking to be public officials, to find a way to work together to create jobs, address poverty, provide health care, housing, education and represent everyone, not just those with money. Politics has to become more about achieving results and less about race, gender, social status, age, income, ethnicity, religion or disability. I have learned from Model UN that every point of view is valuable, and much more is accomplished through listening and compromise than by moving to extremism. It is not necessary for you to accept every argument or believe in every solution, but it is necessary to show common decency and respect.
What are your short term and long-term goals?
My short-term goals are rather simplistic; I just want to keep on doing what I am doing. I like the way things are and hope to keep them that way. Of course, getting into college is also on my short-term goal list! Although I am only 17, I am already registered to vote and cannot wait until I can cast my first ballot.
My long-term goals are more complex. During college, I plan to become more knowledgeable about politics, while involving myself in the political community. As far as a career, I am open to many possibilities. It will be interesting to see in which direction my college years take me. Will I become a diplomat in a foreign country? Work for the UN? Run for office? Only time will tell where the world will take me, and where I might take the world.
Max, how will you make a difference?
This quote by Gandhi exemplifies how I plan to make a difference.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
You can read more about Max and follow his work by subscribing to his blog at: www.maxweiss.org.