Thirty ideas from people under 30: The Change Agents

The Monitor interviewed young artisans, politicians, educators, entrepreneurs and faith leaders. And they have trenchant suggestions on how to improve the world. We'll serve this smorgasbord in bite-size servings of 3 to 7 profiles per day. Today's lineup of change agents includes a British activist, a voice for justice in Pakistan, and a web guru in search of former extremists.

Romy Portuondo Remior: A Cuban 'Evolutionary'

Courtesy of Romy Portuondo Remior
Romy Portuondo Remior, 22, Cuban-American youth activist.

More than 50 years after Fidel Castro's revolution, Cuba remains politically and socially isolated, its people largely blocked from external communications by an authoritarian regime.

Enter Romy Portuondo Remior – born in Havana, raised in Miami since she was 5, and now a rising star in the Cuban-American community – who wants to foment an "Evolution," one tweet and YouTube video at a time. Ms. Portuondo Remior, 22, a board member of the Cuban American National Council, believes passionately in the potential for social media to inform and empower Cuba's people, to help effect change.

Challenges loom, of course. Access to the Web in Cuba is generally slow, expensive, and heavily restricted by the government. With only about 14 percent of the population online – and many of the connections sporadic – Cuba has the lowest rate of Internet access in Latin America.

Yet the tech-savvy are increasingly finding ways to connect with the outside world, and Portuondo Remior, a management team member at Roots of Hope, a nonprofit that empowers Cuban youth, believes new, easy-to-access social networking methods can expose Cuban Web users to more news, views, and information.

"When one of Cuba's dissidents sends out a tweet or blog, we know about it. They have a spotlight on them. But what about the everyday people in Cuba? We need to motivate them to do more than just socialize online. We need to engage them – they need to hear and be heard," says Portuondo Remior.

"Social media is going to have a role in creating a new civic culture, a new form of expression for the Cuban people who for so long have lived literally and figuratively on an island. Social media is a tool to give them a fresh perspective on a world they have limited access to."

– Jacqui Goddard, Miami

Next: Jared Cohen: Moderator of extremism

1 of 6

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.