We chat to youth activist Hannah Alper about her new book, Momentus.
If you're a long-ish term reader of ELLE Canada, you may recall that a few years ago we celebrated our 15th birthday as a magazine by interviewing a stellar group of fellow teenagers. This group of Gen Z-ers were already on a path to changing the world (and most couldn't even drive yet) and they included Hannah Alper. At the time, the teenager was already making waves an activist and was already a seasoned public speaker, addressing and inspiring huge crowds at WE Day events, for which she is an ambassador.
It came as no surprise when earlier this year we heard that Hannah was about to publish a book. Called Momentus, it's a compilation of interviews that Hannah has done with other people committed to "small acts, big change". We caught up with our old friend to chat all about her latest achievement, out now.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
The book grew out of three ideas that I truly believe in. The first idea being that anyone can make a difference – I don't care how old you are, how much money you have or where you live, you can make the world a better place. The second idea is that it's the little things that add up to make a difference. Many people find trying to make the world a better place daunting because they think it's the big actions or the revolutionary ideas that make a difference, but that's not the case. Any tangible action you take, even small acts, add up with other actions to create a positive impact – in other words, small acts, big change. The last idea that influenced my book is the idea that we can't tackle all of the issues in the world alone, the only way we can do it is together – MomentUS!
You've got some pretty huge names in the book—Lily Collins, Lilly Singh, Malala Yousafzai. Was there anyone you're most excited was able to participate?
I would definitely say the youth in my book impacted me the most because I relate to them. I talked to Vivienne Harr, who at 8 years old decided to run a lemonade stand for 365 days to raise awareness and funds to get kids out of child labor. You would think that a lemonade stand wouldn't do much good, right? But after only six months, Vivienne raised over $100 000. I loved talking to the youth because these are my peers, they are the people who keep proving that youth are never too young to make a difference and that no action is too big or too small.
Who were you most nervous to interview?
Definitely Malala Yousafzai. I was nervous and excited to interview her because she is one of my biggest role models. I spoke about her on the WE Day stage when I was 10 years old and she constantly inspires me with her courage, dedication, strength, and passion. It was not only incredible sitting face-to-face with Malala, but interviewing her the same day that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented her with an Honorary Canadian Citizenship was surreal. It was definitely an amazing day to be a Canadian.
What did you learn about yourself through the writing process?
I had the opportunity to talk to some really awesome people and after each interview I walked away knowing something new and feeling so motivated. That is when I discovered that I wanted to go into journalism. I really like telling other people’s stories and I want to inform people about the terrible and awesome things going on in the world. Who knows? Maybe I'll work at Elle Canada!