Six years ago, Avidan Baral moved to the United States from France, where he had lived his entire life. Upon his arrival, Avidan noted transportation challenges in Seattle and the absence of national healthcare. These shortcomings spurned his interest in organizations that take social responsibility and affect political change, including Jay Inslee for Washington and The Washington Bus Organization. In addition, Avidan founded and operated the Capitol Hill Chapter of High School Democrats of America.
"Many people seem to think that politics is this really nasty, awful, slow phenomenon," Avidan said. "But if your intention is to impact others in a meaningful way, you need to concentrate on affecting change through deliberately-designed policy."
Avidan, who is fluent in French, found Spanish an easy language to learn because of its similarity to French. While working as a finance intern at the Jay Inslee campaign, Avidan used his Spanish to help a Central American woman and her community.
"At the time, I was finishing up finance work for the Jay Inslee Campaign,” Avidan said, “when his woman came into our office."
The Secretary for the Jay Inslee Organization could not understand this woman, so Avidan helped.
“She didn't speak very good English," Avidan said, "but once I was able to connect with her in her native language, I understood that her community was unable to raise their coffee plants due to a disease." Avidan then communicated that concern to a policy expert for the campaign. “It was nice to put my language skills to good use in helping my community," Avidan said.
In addition, Avidan has served the SAAS community as a student facilitator.
"I think that connecting with a lot more stakeholders within SAAS has strengthened my understanding of what happens behind the scenes," he said. "I also really love advising and connecting with the 9th graders as a facilitator. There's something incredibly powerful about getting to watch students who are younger than you become who they are going to be."
Avidan believes that his participation in extracurricular activities at SAAS has aided his contributions to political organizations.
"I've been involved in performance most of my life, but transitioning into speech and debate once I reached high school has really given me an edge in everything I have done," Avidan said. "Being able to research and speak effectively in public have automatically put me ahead of the curve. So many people have terrific ideas, but can't really express them. The fact that I'm able to relay those in a convincing manner is definitely an edge overall."
This fall, Avidan will attend the University of Pennsylvania's Huntsman Program of International Studies and Business.
"The reason I decided to do the Huntsman Program was the application of this hard, business-oriented skill set to something that could be positive for the world. I feel that it's definitely a very good step towards my future."