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Cynthia Houniuhi      

Leader of the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change

As a child, Cynthia Houniuhi was surrounded by nature, and her people relied on the environment to sustain them. She learned how to fish, which plants are edible and their cultural dances that tell stories of people interacting harmoniously with the environment. She understood the value of the land and ocean to her people, and the value that people can bring to the land. Our traditional clothing comes from the land and the ocean: when I graduate, I plan to wear the rorochara — a headpiece made of seashells from the ocean that kisses the shorelines of our lands — that my grandmother wore when she got married.

It is heartbreaking that the journey towards solutions on the international level does not reflect the pace at which sea-level rise, intense rainfalls and storms are hitting my islands and my people.

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