Brianna is the youngest ever recipient of a Commonwealth Youth Award and founder of ‘Small Voices’, an environmental NGO that carries out climate change and environment-related projects. She is also a leader of ‘Future Rush’, an environmental group that mobilises young people to run sustainable development projects in their communities. Brianna received a Young Environmental Activist Award from the Samoan government in 2013, and is also a member of the Pacific Youth Environment Network.
Describe a typical day for you
I wake up around 6am, I get ready for school—school is from 8am until 3pm. Then I will go home, do homework, get updates from the various environmental groups I am a part of and then have dinner and go to sleep. It’s hard to juggle school with my work but I love doing it so it’s not a burden to me.
I love going to the beach and going to music. I like RnB and Island Reggae. All of the concerts are based around that. I really like Zumba too.
What got you interested in what you’re doing now?
My mum used to work for an environmental programme in Samoa and she always used to take me to work when she didn’t have a babysitter. I’d listen in on the climate change talks and hear about the problems and solutions of climate change. I decided at the age of 11, I want to do this—to save my little island. My mum said, ‘Ok, when you grow up’, but I said ‘No, I want to do it now’. I was a very impatient little girl. So she supported me on that.
I also have an older sister. She is a feminist and part of YWCA. She really supports me and is my biggest fan.
How would your friends describe you?
They call me the mum of the group—I am the responsible, mature one. My friends’ parents call me to check if I am going to events—if I say that I am, they say to their children, ok you can go.
Top three songs?
- Easy by The Commodores
- At your best by Aaliyah
- Imagine by John Lennon—this song is so inspiring.
The top two simply because I love them.
Top three films?
- Just go with it
Top three heroes?
- Bill Mckibben—a big climate change scientist. I believe in his ethics to speak and take action.
- Mulala—I think that she is an inspiration to everyone.
- My parents—for always supporting me.
What everyday challenges do you face?
Not being able to make calls and meetings because I am busy at school. Missing the bus—the everyday school problems, forgetting my lunch money. Having a test the same day I have a Skype meeting.
When you go back to Samoa, what are the first few things you’re going to do?
I’m going to eat taro—I miss Samoan food right now. Taro is a vegetable close to a yam and with coconut cream and taro leaves. I will see my family and apologise to my teachers for missing so much school. My teachers are very supportive though. When I come back, they always help me to try to catch up.
On a work front, I am hoping to involve more of a variety of members in Little Voices—the school for disabilities in Samoa—a wider range than school students or home-schooled kids.
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