During my early high school days, I dubbed myself as the small island girl with big dreams. I feel embarrassed now whenever I have to use that because I am conscious of critical eyes that will look at a not so small girl but a young woman and think me childish.

I am quite childish though but because I had to grow up a little too early for people my age, I find that childishness that had laid dormant for years is blossoming once again. Like any child, I had so many dreams. A lot of them being very ambitious. I wanted to be the second Marshallese to get a doctorate degree after our President Hilda Heine. I wanted to be the first Marshallese scientist. I wanted to be a doctor to help the sick in our society. I wanted to be the first Marshallese astronaut. I wanted to build my own library like the Beast’s library where bookworms like me could escape to for days.

Another thing I wanted to be but always neglect to say was to be an actress. Our culture encourages humility and being an actress requires being on camera and center of attention, it will tell my peers I was a person looking for attention. I also wanted to be a singer with emotions, who could make feel people more than anything.

Today I find myself in very different paths. Very blessed and grueling paths of recovery and growth. Thank you for letting yourself be part of my journey.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Paige Young says:

    Dear Ms. Leem,
    My name is Paige Young and I am a student at Carrboro High School in Carrboro, North Carolina. I am enrolled in a Global Cultures class and we are doing a unit on activism. I had the option to research the work of any activist in the world and I chose to research you because I am interested in climate and youth activism, specifically your work as the youngest delegate at COP21 and your recent contributions at COP26. I was inspired by the way you use song and poetry to convey your messages on your website “Small Island Gal with Big Dreams.” I would love to talk more about this writing. I am reaching out to you now in the hope that you would be willing to speak with me for 20 minutes in connection with your work.

    I can hold a videoconference with you from 9:20-10:20 a.m. EST on Friday, December 3, or at the same time on Wednesday, December 8. If these dates and times do not work but a different one does work, please let me know and I will check to see if I am free at that time. Thanks so much for considering this request.

    Paige Young


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