And meet the Malaysian comics artist nominated for the industry's top award.
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20 December 2018 | Volume 1, Issue 12
  A note from our guest editor:

As an editorial intern at Malala Fund, every day is an adventure working with amazing girls from around the world.

During my time here, I’ve written about an Indian teacher overcoming gender stereotypes, met a Palestinian refugee student advocating for girls’ education and talked to a Malaysian comics artist about her STEM background (you’ll meet Reimena in this issue!).

Assembly is a platform that celebrates girls by telling their stories — how cool is that? And as this new publication grows, I can see momentum building thanks to this generation of brilliant girl leaders. I couldn't be more thankful to be part of this force — and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.

In this issue, we offer an inside look into Connect With Tech, an organisation founded by 17-year-old Karina Popovich to expose marginalised communities to STEM. Readers from New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Brazil and Myanmar tell us what issues they want world leaders to address. Jamie Margolin, founder of the student-led movement Zero Hour, writes why youth are the key to solving the climate crisis. And Reimena Yee, the Malaysian artist behind “The Carpet Merchant Of Konstantiniyya,” shares what it feels like to be nominated for the most prestigious award in her industry.

I hope you enjoy this issue!

Student Essay
Don’t underestimate 16-year-old climate change activist Jamie SaraĆ­ Margolin — and don’t call her ‘sweetie’
  By Jamie SaraĆ­ Margolin

Ever since I can remember, climate change has loomed over me and every life decision I make. As of writing this article, I am 16 (going on 17). My life, and that of my entire generation, is full of "ifs.” If climate change hasn’t completely destroyed society as we know it. If that part of the world isn’t uninhabitable by the time I’m an adult. If the coral reefs are still there. We had no power in creating the systems that are destroying our world and futures — and yet we are and will be paying the biggest price for the older generations’ recklessness.

So at 14 years old, I began organizing in my hometown of Seattle in the beautiful Pacific Northwest U.S. for climate justice. I worked my butt off along with fellow youth activists for a year doing lobbying campaigns for local initiatives, testifying for local climate action bills, speaking at protests and rallies, and educating youth at nearby schools on the climate crisis, but nothing was happening. No one was really paying attention to our cries for help.

That’s when I came up with the idea for a massive youth climate march and international movement, the seeds of what now has become Zero Hour. I realized that a national day of youth-led mass action would be the ideal platform to ensure that elected officials and adults would hear our voices loud and clear.

Read more.
Girl Profile
Karina Popovich didn’t see any other Ukrainian girls in tech — so she decided to do something about it
Karina video still
  By Bianca He

The lack of representation of minority female in the world of science used to intimidate Karina Popovich, a Ukrainian-American student from an immigrant family.

But Karina isn’t the type that gives up. Instead, she decided to turn it into an opportunity.

In her sophomore year of high school, Karina founded Connect With Tech, an organisation that exposes underrepresented communities to the world of STEM by hosting coding workshops, speaker sessions and tech programmes.

Inspired by her electrician father, Karina’s passion for engineering and technology began in third grade. She fell in love with the field during her first school science project, which involved lighting up a bulb. “I thought that was one of the coolest things ever,” Karina recalls.

Now as head of Connect With Tech, Karina is encouraging other students to pursue their own experiments. At a recent workshop, members of the club discussed projects they want to work on this semester. One student came up with the idea of inventing a sweater for the elderly, which would have heart-monitoring devices and pulse sensors to track health. Others envisioned helping kids to 3D print their own prosthetics.

Read more.
Around the World 
  What is a topic you wished more leaders talked about?

“Leaders should talk more about the freedom girls have in their families and how they are treated different to the males in the house. For a girl it is wrong to talk to a guy, yet if a boy talks to a girl is acceptable.”
— Sukh, 17, New Zealand
“I wish more leaders would talk about abuse, like under-age marriages in Asian countries.”
— Malika, 15, Kazakhstan
Luiza “I would really like if Brazilian leaders talked more about our dictatorial past. Brazil lived under a dictatorship for 21 years and many people are still missing.”
— Luiza, 15, Brazil
“I wish presidents would be more forthcoming and frank about their country's social shortcomings rather than just the economic situation of a country. For example, if there is an ongoing genocide within the country, I wish presidents would at least be more open and truthful about the realities of such problem.”
—Taing Eaindray, 19, Myanmar
Artist Spotlight
Meet Malaysian comics artist Reimena Yee
Malaysian comic

“A historical romance with a modern, satirical take on Gothic fiction and the literary vampire genre.” That’s how 23-year-old Malaysian comics artist Reimena Yee describes her critically acclaimed new graphic novel, “The Carpet Merchant Of Konstantiniyya.”

With illustrations inspired by Ottoman illumination and miniature, the book follows the life of a Turkish carpet merchant who transforms into a vampire — but at the heart of the story is the merchant’s powerful love for his wife and his relationship with God. “The Carpet Merchant Of Konstantiniyya” is Reimena’s proudest work to date — and it is generating considerable buzz in the industry. This spring, the graphic novel was nominated for an Eisner Award, the industry’s equivalent of the Academy Awards. It is the first Malaysian creator-owned work to be nominated.

On the heels of her historic nomination, I spoke with Reimena about “The Carpet Merchant Of Konstantiniyya,” how her STEM background inspires her art and what it is like to be a young woman in the comics industry.

Read more.
Get published in Assembly!
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
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