23, peace and education advocate, current head of KRIS Library
Beyond the impressive titles on her resume (graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines, made it to the Inspiring Filipina Entrepeneurs of 2017 list, named one of the 10 Global Young Leaders in the “Extremely Together” Initiative for Countering Violent Extremism in 2016) are qualities that make the already amazing Arizza Ann Sarmiento Nocum even more remarkable.
The 23-year-old is covering two important advocacies with one medium: using education to promote peace through KRIS Library (short for Kristiano Islam Peace Library). “My mom is Muslim and she’s from Sulu. My dad is Catholic and he’s from Zamboanga,” explains Arizza. “They decided not to convert each other and they decided to build a family that respected and identified with both faiths.” Growing up, Arizza was exposed to these two faiths and in their home, acceptance and understanding were things constantly reinforced. These are just some of the values Arizza hopes to instill in the youth today. “We wanted to solve that problem at KRIS Library,” she says. “Here, we encourage young people from different backgrounds, specifically these two religions to come to the library, engage, talk, discuss, learn together, read together and eventually, create friendships like young people do. It’s a way to break barriers.”
Arizza is a true outlier. But while the aforementioned resume boasts many more accomplishments than this brief profile will allow, she keeps herself in check, constantly wary about the power of influence: “Influence is important, and publicizing and sharing my story is important but what’s more important is developing the story on the ground and continuing that story. Because empty publicity and empty influence are just a good story with nothing behind it.”