Minnesota teenager to speak at United Nations panel
(KMSP) - While most kids her age can only dream about traveling the world, 15-year-old Amelia Sawalich is actually doing it.
"I've been to Bolivia, Peru, Africa, Armenia, China, Palestine,” said Sawalich. “I've been to so many places and I'm blessed to have that chance to go experience the world."
Sawalich went on her first mission trip with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and her grandfather, Starkey CEO Bill Austin, when she was just eight years old. This year alone, she's been to more than a dozen countries, not only helping fit hearing aids on poor people who need them, but also helping them adjust to a life with sound once they have their hearing back.
“Getting to give people the gift of hearing is something that is hard for me to explain just because of how amazing it is,” said Sawalich. “Getting your hearing back is like you are reborn. You just get a part of life back, and getting to give that to people, it’s indescribable."
Next week, the 15-year-old will hit the world stage, speaking at the United Nations as part of a panel of young philanthropists to celebrate International Youth Day. She hopes her labor of love inspires other young people to follow their hearts.
"It doesn't matter how young you are, you can go out and make a difference in the world and that's what I want to share with others my age,” said Sawalich.
Sawalich has plenty of souvenirs from her travels around the globe, but it’s the memories of helping others that mean the most.
"You are never too young to do something for the world or touch someone else's life," she said.
Sawalich travels so often, she is now enrolled in an online high school so she can keep up with her school work. After she speaks in New York on Monday, she will head to back to Africa on another mission trip.