THE INFLUENCE ISSUE
Dear Mochi readers,
If I had to narrow down the one thing in my life that influenced me the most, it would be my five summers of nerd camp. Between the ages of 12 to 17, my parents would ship me off across the Pacific (with a lovely, puke-green, airline-sanctioned “Unaccompanied Minor” button on my chest) to attend the Center for Talented Youth, better known as CTY. Camp took me from upstate New York to Hawaii, and was the first time I was ever forced to step out of my comfort zone. There, I met the most fascinating people and professors who would challenge me to rethink every single thing I had ever learned and took for granted. Every summer was a three-week crash course in self-confidence and socializing, and what I learned completely shaped my personality and outlook into what it is today.
It’s almost impossible to tell when you’re living a moment that may not just change your life, but the lives of others. We’ve dedicated this issue of Mochi to people who have a made a difference—the biggest influencers today in industries like politics, entertainment, technology and more. We asked them to look back on the bits and pieces of their lives that have had an influence on who they are and what they do today. Then, we stepped inward and took a look at the everyday things that influence us—from ethnicity to pop culture.
Each summer after camp, I would return home – depressed to have left, but happy for the amazing memories. Above all, camp taught me that the best of experiences end. So, take lots of pictures. Meet everyone you can. And don’t be afraid when one big chapter of your life is over because it will color every future chapter of your life.
I hope you’ll remember this as you read through this issue’s articles. Every single person featured was once a teenager, not sure of the impact they would make on the world. And look at them now.