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Andrew Jenks At TEDxTeen: 'I Think Any Generation Has The Opportunity To Change The World'

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ANDREWJENKS
AP

We’re going to bet that not too many teens would be willing to move into a nursing home for over a month and then film what life was like -- but that’s exactly what 19-year-old Andrew Jenks did eight years ago. His project became a feature documentary, which went on to premiere on HBO and ultimately influence the popular series on MTV, “World of Jenks.”

Today, Jenks is an award-winning filmmaker, author of “Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker” and just began the second season of “World of Jenks,” through which he continues to share the inspiring stories of others and place a spotlight on Generation Y.

There was certainly no shortage of inspirational storytelling at the TEDxTeen conference in New York this past Saturday, where Jenks hosted the online global audience at TEDXTeen.com as the event streamed live. This time, we turned the camera on him to find out who inspires him, why he thinks teens can change the world and the one piece of advice he would tell his younger self.

On who inspires him...
"I’ve lived with a young woman who was homeless and then this season that’s airing now, I lived with a young woman who has cancer. She’s going through chemo right now ... she’s facing it head-on. She already had to deal with it in the past. She’s only 26 and so that kind of willpower to move forward and not feel bad for yourself is something that I greatly admire."

On the kind attitude he respects...
"You know, the young [TEDxTeen speaker] who is blind [Kuha’o Case] said a really interesting thing, which is that he is not someone who wishes he was able to see ... I’ve found that to be the case with a lot of other people that I’ve met ... They don’t really think about 'Well, what if I didn’t have it?'... At a certain point, they got to a point in their lives where they said, 'I’m gonna pivot now and I’ll be able to take another approach.'"

On why he thinks Generation Y can change the world...
"I think that any generation has the opportunity to change the world. A lot of times when you’re dealing with tremendous adversity or problems there come great opportunities, and our generation is living in an economy that those in the past were able to benefit from. Going to college [now results in] the average student being $45,000 in debt and then they enter a work environment that has been described as a bit hopeless. I hope that we will actually become stronger as a result [of that adversity]."

On the one piece of advice he’d give himself, if he could go back in time...
"It’s just 'believe in what I do.' I have the television show on MTV and I think it stemmed from the documentary that I made when I was 19, where I moved into a nursing home. And I think that when I was younger, maybe I didn’t have that -- not necessarily even confidence -- but belief that I could do that. If I were to go back in time, I would say, 'Yeah, you can believe that.' Now I’m lucky enough to be here and I have a book with Scholastic, 'My Adventures As a Young Filmmaker.'"

On pursuing your passion...
"I think it sounds hokey and cheesy and a bit trite, but there’s a lot to be said for following something that you think you’re good at because as a result, you’re willing to fight for it -- and I think that can be all the difference."

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