A youth passionate about his community, meet American Soapbox winner Sebastian Rios Barragan. Sebastian traveled with Mikva Challenge to Washington DC this past January to participate in a national Youth Summit as one of five Action Civics LA’s youth to win the 2016 American Soapbox Video Competition with his speech on community violence and anxiety. Click here to learn more about American Soapbox Initiative.

My Trip to Washington DC with Mikva Challenge

By Sebastian Rios Barragan

IMG_5391My name is Sebastian Rios Barragan. I am 16 years old and currently a junior at Cesar Chavez Learning Academies-Social Justice Humanitas in San Fernando. I have not earned many things in my life except for being a part of this interview and being able to get a perfect score on a California State Test in middle school.

I am very passionate about how the violence around my neighborhood has affected how I do in school. My experience at Washington DC with Mikva Challenge is something I will never forget. I visited places I have never saw myself visiting and met people that I would not have crossed paths with if it wasn’t for this trip. This trip was very eye opening because people cared about the voices of  young adults and it made me feel important. Listening to the stories of the other American Soapbox winners and feeling the passion they shared through their stories showed me that everyone’s voice matters.

One event I remember the most is when Javier was joking about a security guard in a secret service uniform. We were joking that it must not be so secret if you have it written on your uniform. It was memorable because it was the first inside joke we made. I love making jokes and hearing jokes so this inside joke made me feel more comfortable.

For the people that feel that your voice does not matter — I never saw myself being a part of something like this trip to Washington DC I never saw myself as a leader until I was one of the winners of the American Soapbox competition. Around where I live in, people that work hard do not achieve opportunities like these, so I set an example for my peers. Right now I am focusing on my schoolwork because I am more determined to become successful in life, trying to enjoy my life, and trying to find ways I can be more involved in my community. I often do not know where to look and who to talk to to help me get involved, so I am determined to create these opportunities for myself.