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  • Nina Feldman, The George Washington University

Cultivating a generation of young leaders once principle at a time.

Traveling never seems to be much of an issue to us. We pull out our phone, type in a few numbers, and then an automated voice tells us where to go. Whether it is five minutes, or five hours, we put our trust into this device to get us where we need to go. But what about the places that don’t have this luxury? What about the communities who are not even on the map?

Everyone deserves to be heard, just as much as everyone deserves to be seen.

This is what YouthMappers is working to change. Our mission is to inspire youth leaders around the world to not only define their own world, but help others define theirs. With a wholesome and determined drive, YouthMappers is steadily rising closer and closer to achieving their goal of putting everyone on the map. What makes this program so unique and prosperous, is the set of standards it upholds from each and every member to each an every point on the map. Youth mappers are encouraged to follow the values set by their program to produce the best and most resourceful results. As stated in the YouthMappers Code of Ethics, " the mission of YouthMappers is to cultivate a generation of young leaders who will create resilient communities and define their world by mapping it".

A personable feeling is stitched into every data point collected by YouthMappers. The power of the people is brightly shown in every project conducted around the world. While encouraging individual community betterment, YouthMappers fosters the development of an interdisciplinary network that makes these regions a part of something greater than themselves. Both at small and large scales, students are able to share their perspective and support to a diverse international virtual community.

Just last year, YouthMappers, helped put numerous areas of Puerto Rico that were previously unmarked, on a map. The time and effort these students placed onto one area rippled into an even greater effort to bring aid and resources to victims of Hurricane Maria. YouthMappers has always valued interconnectivity and bringing communities together from around the world. As they continue to expand, as of now YouthMappers has members in over 4,000 universities across 30 countries. However, quality over quantity is still a motto they strive towards. So many contributions are made to open source mapping platforms daily and in order to make those additions precise and authentic, YouthMappers encourage high quality decisions. By providing our students and volunteers with step-by-step guides, training opportunities, and a stable framework, the work they create is not only valid but immense. The work of YouthMappers are always freely available and works to preserve academic integrity and proper acknowledgment within every region. Having such a widespread circle involves members of communities all over the world. Inclusiveness and respect, along with security and privacy protection exemplifies the values of this program. Making sure that the people who are contributing feel secure and protected. By refraining from creating data that is controversial and not in line with the principles of the area makes the data YouthMappers contribute so well respected.

In the end, no matter the race, religion or cultural practices, each member of the YouthMappers community is honored and welcomed. It is with this inclusiveness and diversity that makes YouthMappers so special. With the help of all it’s members, no one will feel excluded from the world and instead become a part of it. YouthMappers lives up to and beyond its motto, they don’t just build maps, they build mappers!

Nina Feldman is originally from New York and got her Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies at the George Washington University. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Science degree in Geography along with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). She is currently part of a research project known as Arctic PIRE where she was able to conduct fieldwork in Siberia to learn more about Arctic urban sustainability. She also enjoys working alongside YouthMappers, where she helps with the different projects that encourage university students around the world to define their communities and help with global challenges using various mapping techniques.

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