Gap Year Over, Greta Thunberg Goes Back to School

Greta Thunberg, one of the most visible faces of the climate change movement, has gone back to school. And she has much to be proud of, and even more to look forward to, in the coming years.

Greta Thunberg’s gap year from school has come to an end.

The 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist had taken a break from classes since August 2019 to raise awareness and urge more action to combat climate change.

The teenage activist had shot to fame even earlier in 2018 when she skipped school every Friday to begin her protests with a picket sign outside the Swedish parliament.

Since then, she has sailed to New York on a ‘zero-emission’ yacht to speak at the UN climate change summit and then famously taken the help of YouTubers to go to Spain, crossing the Atlantic on a ‘carbon-neutral’ journey when the UN event was moved there because of unrest in Chile.

On Tuesday, Thunberg posted a picture on Instagram with a backpack and next to a cycle with the caption: “My gap year from school is over, and it feels so great to finally be back in school again!”

During her speech at the UN in September of 2019, she had famously said: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

From her famous stare to US President Donald Trump to being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and then being the Time’s Person of the Year 2019, Thunberg has become the poster child for activism against climate change, inspiring millions across the globe to organize protest marches to even a plan for a “Digital Strike” announced by Thunberg during the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Her clear-minded activism has led to some heartburn and even friction, none more clearly enunciated by Trump who had famously snubbed her speech at the UN but later retweeted a video of her by saying: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

Yet, despite her high-profile activism and more than a million words and probably over billion pixels published on or around her work, it would be tough to credit a direct link or attribution to her on any action taken to counter the effects of climate change.

What no one will doubt is the freshness and novelty she brought to the climate change rank, helping draw interest and awareness for the movement outside of the summits and conferences which seem to have achieved so little.

But her work has certainly inspired many others like her to take on the mantle, including 8-year old Licypriya Kangujam, dubbed India’s Greta, to speak at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid in December last year where she urged global leaders to take immediate steps to save the planet and the future of young children like her.

Now back to school, we think Thunberg will continue to keep a sharp watch on actions being taken to fight climate change and continue to encourage those who take gap years to devote some time for environmental issues or for welfare causes. And in due time, hopefully, join the fight yet again – much wiser and stronger.

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Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy

Anirban has been a journalist all his working life having worked with leading global media brands for most of this time. He has a strong interest in sustainability too and is an occasional writer for IamRenew.

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