November 19, 2019

Malia Simon Spoke at the Cultural Vistas Gala

Susquehanna University’s Malia Simon delivered a memorable speech about the impact of her international experience at the Cultural Vistas Awards Gala in New York City.

Chosen from her class of 15 fellows, Simon ’21, an environmental studies major, used her platform to highlight her Native American lineage and explained how her summer in Hong Kong impacted her future aspirations.

“In Hong Kong I learned the importance of the power of stories and how using your voice and truly chasing the dreams you seek your whole lifetime will take you places you can never imagine,” she said.

Susquehanna has one of the highest representations among Cultural Vistas Fellows and alumni. Simon, Katherine Moronta ’21 and Katy Grubb ’21 made up one-fifth of the 2019 cohort that spent eight weeks completing professional internships and learning from the experience of living in Argentina, Germany or Hong Kong.

Simon, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe and Navajo Nation from Bloomfield, New Mexico, interned at Carbon Care InnoLab where she was involved with communication and advocacy efforts to create awareness and contribute to solving global climate challenges. Through digital media, she raised awareness about how climate change is affecting different cultures and how everyone has a role to play in creating a sustainable change.

“As a visitor I had a chance to engage and gain relationships with Hongkongers I worked and learned with,” Simon said. “Their unique stories are examples of strength I still carry with me today, and their utmost dedication to resolving and mitigating the climate crisis inspires me to continue the path I am on.”

Simon, who opened her remarks in her native Navajo language, returned time and again to her heritage, and emphasized that her global experience was not hers alone.

“This fellowship wasn’t just for me,” she said. “It was for a whole family and whole community of native people across the United States that are rooting and cheering for me. I know I carry their dreams for their community on my shoulders.”

Simon has always had a passion for civic engagement, something she attributes to her upbringing. But her Cultural Vistas fellowship inspired in her a new dream of running for Congress to represent her Navajo and Dakota community.

“I realize my role as a Native woman who has gained an international experience is to encourage and mentor other Native youth,” Simon said. “I am where I come from and though I’ve had the privilege to live and intern outside of the United States, I walk in my life remembering my people and their strength.”