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In Dominican Spanish la ñapa refers to "the little extra" added on at the end. Just when you thought you'd gotten all that you would get, along comes your ñapa, like a baker's dozen, with one more kiss, one more pastelito, one more mango at the mercado.

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Climate Change

Here at the end of 2019, beginning of 2020, as Time Magazine selects Greta Thunberg as its person of the year, 2019, I nominate our own local Greta as my person of the year.

I met Vivian seven years ago, when she was only seven. She and her friends were fans of my tía Lola books, and so I decided to host a tía Lola tea for her and her friends. We had a grand time. Even back then, I loved the sparkle in her eyes, her passion for stories, and her compassionate heart. When I attended our local Climate Strike on September 20th in Middlebury, Vermont, Vivian was one of youngest students who marched out of school and the youngest speaker at the strike. Her words blew me away, and I asked her and her mom (Vivian is only fourteen) if I could share them on my website. I was already Vivian's fan, and now I'm her follower. Here are her words.

Vivian (in silver dress, front center) with five of her friends at tía Lolas tea party, 2012
Vivian (in silver dress, front center) with five of her friends at tía Lola's tea party, 2012

I want to live in a world where my grandchildren can look back on climate change and say "Wow, that was a close one." But with the way things look right now that's not going to happen. I'm missing several classes to be here right now. Having to make up school work is a pain, so missing school is not really something I enjoy. Education, both my own and that of others, is very high on my list of priorities. But the world has come to the point where climate change is even more important. Business as usual is tearing the only planet we have into pieces that we can't hope to repair. This is one of the reasons why we're here today: to disrupt our daily routine and bring attention to the fact that climate change is here whether we like it or not, and it's not going to go away all by itself. That's our job.
I have heard people say, many many times, that the youth of today will be the saviors of the world. That my generation will be the ones to slow climate change to a stop. However, the world can't wait for all of us to be able to vote, or drive, or have our own credit cards. This is a movement that needs everyone, no matter how old you are, no matter how many climate rallies you haven't been to, no matter how many hours a week you work. All the small, medium and large things you can do are important. What you do counts, and how you do it matters. We're all very literally in this together.
Sometimes we have so much on our minds that it's hard to form coherent thoughts. Our heads are so stuffed full of worry that we can't find the words to describe it. So we can use actions. Walking out of school, leaving work, organizing a rally. These are the actions that build and build into a barrier so high that the politicians and corporations can no longer scale it with their money and blatant lies. As a community, as one human race, we are capable of making all the right decisions before the earth as we know it dives off the cliff that it's barreling towards. We are all perfectly capable of digging in our heels and refusing to let the worst of us get the better of us.
The thing about climate change is that it is not really a battle between good and evil. There may not be any clear winner. But this battle is one that we must fight. We must fight for our dignity, and the dignity of the soil that sustains us, and the dignity of our neighbors. Whether we win or lose or end up somewhere in between, this battle is one that must be struggled through because it is a battle for the dignity of the earth and everything on it, and if we don't have that, then what do we have left?
Thank you.
Vivian Ross at Global Climate Change Strike, Middlebury, Vermont, September 20, 2019

Vivian at Global Climate Strike, Middlebury, Vt., September 20, 2019
Vivian at Global Climate Strike, Middlebury, Vt., September 20, 2019

Often, famous figures are the public face of a cause, but these anonymous, unsung people in the crowd are our unacknowledged heroes and heroines.

As this year closes, and 2020 begins, join Vivian and all our young people in helping reverse the destruction of the only home we have. To quote another friend & colleague (Bill McKibben): 'It's not fair to let the kids save the planet all by themselves.'

Julia Alvarez
December 14, 2019
Copyright © Julia Alvarez 2019-2020.
All rights reserved. No further duplication, downloading or
distribution permitted without written agreement of the author
(please contact my agent, Stuart Bernstein).
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