Interview with Palakh Khanna


Palakh in a gray blazer and black blouse with long black hair and smiling.
Palakh in a gray blazer and black blouse with long black hair and smiling.

Founding Executive Director of I-CREATE YOUTH Jessica (Jess) Kim interviewed Palakh Khanna, founder of Brea.The.Ice and a young global leader.


Palakh Khanna is a 19-year-old Youth Changemaker, Social Entrepreneur, Mentor, teacher and environmentalist. A World Record Holder, she is India’s 20 Under 20 and a Regional Officer for Asia Pacific. Palakh is the Founder of Break.The.Ice, an International Youth organization working towards breaking taboos and stigmas and helping in creating an enlightened youth community.



I-CREATE YOUTH is an organization that empowers, educates, and connects disabled youth through language in its various forms, from poetry to programming. We teach creative writing workshops, host fellowship and summer research programs, and curate monthly exhibitions featuring disabled changemakers, all in an effort to connect disabled youth and communicate their stories with the world. Learn more about us at icreateyouth.com.


 

Jessica Kim: You're the founder of Break the Ice, an organization empowering the youth through open dialogue and discussion. Can you tell me about how the organization started and where it is now?


Palakh Khanna: Break.The.Ice is an International Youth organization working towards breaking taboos and stigmas in society. It all started when I overheard a conversation between my mom and my domestic help where she was shying away from asking for pads and I realised that despite living in the 21st century, many individuals still shy away from essential conversations simply because they are pushed under the carpet of ignorance under the tag of “taboo”. Today, we are a UN SDSN Youth member organization, present in 10+ countries with over 25,000 individuals impacted.


JK: Break the Ice is truly global, being members of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and United People Global and partnering with international organizations such as the Global Millenial Group. What is the value of partnering with these global organizations?


PK: I believe it’s so important to collaborate at an International Level because it allows us to learn and break taboos of other cultures as well! It’s interesting to see that most countries have a different perspective on every taboo and breaking the ice within each country through this global reach makes it an interesting task.


JK: You are a Harvard Innovation Fellow as well as India's 20 Under 20. What are those experiences like?


PK: It is an honor to be associated with and recognised at both levels! I believe it is a motivation for me to keep doing the work I do and create greater change! Being a part of India’s 20 Under 20 was a huge deal for me since it highlighted how I was recognised amongst thousands of individuals and being a Harvard Innovation Fellow has not only given me access to an Internationally acclaimed community but also the opportunity to network with like minded individuals.


JK: What do you think is the most contentious social issue at the moment? How do you think we, as individuals or a society, can work towards alleviating that issue?


PK: I think the most important social issue today is the lack of implementation of SDG 4 i.e., providing quality education to everyone. I believe being educated and getting quality education is the first step to being enlightened and fighting for our rights and we as a society need to work towards SDG 4 in our own small ways! As individuals who are privileged, we can teach a young child, we can donate our books, we can make sure we are enlightened and not just educated in our own space. Together, we can create a change!


JK: I've also learned that you're an avid reader and poet! When and why do you write?


PK: I have always been an introvert and have considered writing as the only source of expressing my thoughts openly. I have always loved writing, whether on paper or through the screen! I’ve written poems and short stories which have been published and I also write content online!


JK: Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?


PK: Hopefully creating change at the International Level, with Break.The.Ice doing really well and actually breaking taboos in the most practical and prominent way possible!


JK: Many young people aspire to be changemakers and entrepreneurs. Do you have any advice for youth to grow their platform and impact?


PK: I believe the first step to creating change is taking risks! I know we’ve read a lot of quotes about this but believe me, the moment you take a risk, you work for it and you ensure you succeed in it. That’s your first step to success!


JK: I-CREATE YOUTH is an organization that is dedicated to disability justice and awareness among youths. Can you share your thoughts on the need to raise awareness for the disabled community, which has been, and continues to be marginalized in society?


PK: I believe the disabled are as human as we are! Like every other marginalized community, they deserve to be uplifted and given equal rights as us! We must work towards giving them the basic necessities and enlighten them so that they are able to demand their rights from the concerned authorities. As individuals, we need to make sure we put in efforts to support them and encourage them!


JK: Last but not least, who are your sources of inspiration?


PK: I believe my inspiration has always been my mom! She has taught me how to be vocal yet respectful, considerate yet confident to put my opinions across and the art of balancing my work and personal life!