Nicole Garcia and Ramalda Zuniga, two students at Lindsay Community School, made new discoveries about themselves while researching local candidates and propositions for a school project.
"I learned that I'm a very persistent person and love to help others," said Garcia. "I came to the realization that I want to fight, but I want to fight with words. I want to become a civil rights lawyer. Take the battle to the court."
The work was part of a larger Design Jam project for students in San Diego County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools. Students were encouraged to explore relevant issues such as environmental justice and the 2020 election through the lens of equity and answer the question, "What does it take to change the world?"
Zuniga learned that she's open to new things.
"People are afraid of change and I was terrified about learning what all of this was…. When I was learning it all, I was like 'feed me more,'" she said. "It was amazing knowing I could open up on such topics. Being a person of color, it was very life changing."
After studying about Mexico's previous rule of the San Diego region, Zuniga said she felt more empowered to speak on behalf of her people and other people of color, and that was reflected in her participation in this project.
The team of six students at Lindsay Community School completed the Design Jam project as part of teacher Dawn Miller's social studies class where they've been studying the region's past.
Garcia and Zuniga both said they appreciate how all historical and cultural perspectives are presented so they can develop their own opinions. These class lessons helped inform their opinions on the issues facing their communities, and ultimately on the guidance they gave about the propositions and which mayoral candidate to support.
"As a school, we're always working on how we can be critical readers and thinkers on stuff and look at all angles," said teacher Erendira Ramirez. "Ms. Miller really emphasizes looking at the rhetoric. What does it look and sound like and what would it actually be? How do they push it or sell it or frame it and then what it actually is."
Both students continued following the election once the project was complete, attending online forums and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria's virtual inauguration. The candidate they supported for mayor was victorious, but several of the propositions they supported did not pass.
Garcia said it was challenging to accept that a lot of the propositions were denied by people in their community.
"We noticed a lot of people don't support affordable housing and more funding for schools, and programs that actually help our communities grow and thrive," she said, adding that she felt they reached out to a lot of people, but those they couldn't reach "didn't understand what these propositions were putting forth and what they could have changed."
As Zuniga said earlier, she learned some people are afraid of change.
"They love to say they want change, that they want a different environment. They say it, but they just don't do it. People talk, but don't act."