Astudia gives students opportunity to get involved, with focus on mental health

For high schoolers and teens in Northern Virginia and beyond who care about worldly issues, Astudia is a place they can go to learn and do something about them. 

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I started noticing that a lot of my friends were kind of feeling listless, with all this social isolation and all of that, and then also that a lot of them were avoiding the news. And I was thinking of what can I do to kind of make a difference and to make sure that young people are engaging in the world, keeping up with what’s going on — all of that,” said Daliya Rizvi, the president of Astudia. 

Rizvi, who is also a junior in Fairfax County Public Schools, said that while Astudia started as a smaller group, they now have more than 150 members. According to the website, it is “an organization that provides teens with opportunities, resources, and online services while empowering them to make a difference in the world.” 

Astudia offers various virtual programs and workshops for young people to participate in, from virtual pen pals to the GenZCares program. 

“We have a program called GenZCares, which is this online initiative in which we post about global issues, and we have GenZCares ambassadors who repost, help spread awareness about those issues. So we’ve covered things like climate change, the refugee crisis, and much, much more,” Rizvi said. 

“We kind of combine what’s going on around the world with what young people are interested in and passionate about. And then we use that to guide the issues that we select to advocate for,” she explained of what Astudia chooses to cover.  

She also noted that creating the educational aspects of Astudia for these workshops and initiatives is a team effort, saying, “So these students come together, look through reputable sources, and create PowerPoints and games for our workshops because we do want them to be collaborative.” 

Astudia has evolved since Rizvi and her vice president worked on it in the beginning of the pandemic. Now, instead of simply providing updates on news events to keep teens informed, it is something more interactive — though evolving came with challenges. 

“I would say that our biggest challenge initially was getting getting our message out there — we stayed quite small for a while. And then once we were able to build up our social media presence and our online presence, it really helped us expand and get a lot more people interested in the work that we were doing,” she explained.  

For the vice president, seeing that she was not the only young person who cared about issues happening all over the world has been rewarding. 

“I think that that was just so wonderful, for me personally, to see because a lot of people who care about specific issues, they feel like they’re alone in caring. It’s so nice to see that there’s a whole community of people out there who really believe and who really care about what’s going on, and they want to make a difference too,” she said.

The vice president plans on continuing with Astudia and watching it grow, noting that it would be nice to hold in-person events or even create chapters for those involved all around the world. 

For those like her and the Astudia team, the vice president has a message: “If you are a young person out there, who does care about an issue … first of all, know that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to do research on the issue. Stay informed, don’t stick your head in the sand.” 

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