Haris Hosseini, 17
Haris Hosseini, a high school junior in San José, California, is wholeheartedly dedicated to using his voice to speak about the social issues, both domestic and global, that matter most to him. Currently ranked the third best orator in the United States, he has accumulated numerous accolades and awards at national speech and debate tournaments all over the U.S.
As the son of a novelist, the written word has been elemental to Hosseini’s upbringing, and writing has been a hobby since his childhood. Over the years, Hosseini has been experimenting in fiction and turns to writing in the moments during which he is not so sure of himself. Writing allows him to transform his thoughts — as hectic as they often are and as intrusive as they can be — into an enormously cathartic facilitation of his coming of age.
The peerless wit and radiant spirit of Maya Angelou, as well as the ever-thoughtful perspective of his father, Khaled Hosseini, inspires him to advocate for youth engagement in social issues and activism.
Hosseini sees an undeniable vitality in today’s youth. His peers around the U.S. have proven that a student’s voice is a powerful one, and they are not to be silenced or subdued. Lately he has been closely studying gender roles and new ideas in modern gender studies, especially the idea of toxic masculinity. In 2018, the focal point of his activist research is to understand how many of the societal and cultural problems Americans struggle with (including mass shootings, campus rape culture, workplace harassment, anti-LGBT hate crimes) are rooted in the American upbringing of boys, and the cultural training as children to be an archetypal man. This issue hits close to home for Hosseini, who has always struggled to squeeze himself into the mold of a “tough guy”. He believes that the world needs more men who are willing to exhibit that which makes us all human: kindness, compassion, and sensitivity.
He serves as a Media Director for The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, an organization founded by his father, that provides humanitarian support and relief to Afghanistan’s women and children. As the Founder and President of the Tech for Global Good Student Board at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San José, Haris advocates for the use of innovative technology to solve pressing global issues. The 2018 focus is climate change. He is the lead organizer of the 2018 Youth Climate Summit at the Tech Museum, the first in the museum’s history.
Hosseini hopes to study political science at a university known for its emphasis on government and policy. He has spent his life honing the development of his voice as a writer and a speaker, and he hopes to utilize those skills someday by working in a representative role in the U.S. government.
by Haris Hosseini
A teacher of mine once described to me the moment he realized he was not alone in this world. This occurred, he told me, when he read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time as a young man in the Midwest. Hawking was the vessel for my teacher’s adolescent realization that his unshakeable, lifelong love for numbers was one shared by other human beings. I imagine his youthful hands flipping pages under the glow of a nightlight, his heart slowly encountering the wonderful notion that in fact, within the universe Hawking so beautifully delineated, there existed an entire other universe in which boys and girls like himself found mathematics in every corner of the world and grasped unthinkable numerical beauty in the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we think, and the way we love. While this teacher’s curriculum proved too complex for me, his experience touched me nonetheless because it is a universal one: the adolescent seeking out of those who see the world and its nuances through the lens you do. For all my life, I have been keenly interested in the study of social sciences. While I have not been privy to a world of theoretical analyses or quantifiable laws like the one my teacher so ardently adores, I belong to the world adjacent that falls under the name of the humanities. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the laws of physics that govern our world or admire the mathematical principles that dominate our universe — it’s simply to say that I have fallen into a love affair of similar depth, but of differing principles, with the social sciences. History class lit the same fire in me that physics class lit in my teacher. Hawthorne is my Hawking, and Nabokov is my Newton. If I and another more numerically inclined individual were to look up at the stars together tonight, while he or she might take interest to the trajectory of constellations, or the vast possibilities that exist in the galaxy just beyond, I’d begin to wonder if prehistoric beings saw the same night sky that I do, or if words exist in our language to explicate the inexplicable beauty of our solar system, or if there’s really any point at all in the further probing of a universe we suspect to be endless. I find that the humanities are aptly named to be just that: the study of humanity, in all its glory and ugliness, in all its tendencies and propensities, and in all its failures and victories.