Monday, October 29, 2007
Jared Cohen
Young men watching popular American TV shows on satellite dishes. Young women wearing garish makeup. Teenagers sending secret text messages and arranging illicit trysts. These are perhaps scenarios you'd expect from a major U.S. city, not the images we normally see from the Middle East.

These are some of the things Jared Cohen found when he set out to get the real story from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. This young foreign policy force is responsible for public diplomacy, Muslim world outreach and North Africa at the U.S. State Department's Office of Policy Planning and, at 25 years old, has the experience to rival his veteran counterparts. Defying government orders, Cohen toured hostile Islamic regions to talk face-to-face with terrorists in an effort to debunk stereotypes and reveal a shocking subculture in his latest book, "Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East."

As a Jewish American, Cohen has guts. He went to Lebanon to interview Hezbollah members at, of all places, a McDonald's. In Iran, he found underground parties, where bootleg liquor, Western music and the Internet are all easy to access. His risky itinerary aims to show us how and why the under-30 generation in the Islamic world is the best hope for the West.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live Video interview
Monday, October 22, 2007
The organizers of "I Am Worth the Wait"
We hear about sex all the time -- sex scandals, sex tapes, sexual marketing. The young organizers of I Am Worth the Wait don't want to hear about it anymore. And they certainly don't want to hear how cool it is.

This group is trying to make its own definition of cool: declaring abstinence until marriage, but not living in a convent in the meantime. Rather, the organization puts together events and outreach programs in the Northeast that are full of young people, from event hosts to the models of their clothing line to entertainment.

The goal of the group is to bring together teens and 20-somethings of all races, religions and backgrounds to talk about something other than sex.

Update: Comments are no longer being accepted. Watch the CNN.com Live Video interview
Monday, October 15, 2007
Jen MacNeil
Approaching 30 can cause angst for some twentysomethings. But for Jen MacNeil, it was a reason to celebrate her life and try some pretty cool things. MacNeil decided to give her 20s a big sendoff by doing one new thing every day from her 29th birthday until the day she turns 30.

The things she says she has tried range from giving someone a haircut and learning to fold fancy napkins to castrating a calf (which she says isn't as gory as it sounds) and serenading an overworked customer service representative. Some of her favorite experiences include adopting an endangered species (a blue-footed booby), culturing organic honey by using a chainsaw and attending an Al-Anon meeting. Of course, being featured on CNN makes the list, too.

MacNeil documents all of her adventures and misadventures on her blog: In the New. She gets hundreds of readers from all over the world, inspiring people to step outside their comfort zones. As she says on her blog, "Life is short, let's make it interesting."


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Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Taylor Krauss
Speaking for those who have no voice. It's a provocative idea that Taylor Krauss, founder of Voices of Rwanda, wants to tap into. According to him, "Recording individual testimonies is a moral imperative."

Krauss is the 27-year-old force behind Voices of Rwanda, which is dedicated to recording and preserving the oral history of Rwandans to inform the world about the genocide and to inspire a sense of citizen responsibility to prevent human-rights atrocities. Filming takes place in the United States and Rwanda. Some fiercely emotional interviews, Krauss says, last longer than eight hours.

The goal of Voices of Rwanda is to turn the video archives into an educational resource for journalists, historians, academics, psychologists, artists and activists. The testimonies will be used in curriculums at high schools across the United States and will also be available to museums, schools and other learning institutions around the world. That way, many Rwandan men, women and children will be given not only a voice in history but also an audience to hear it.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live Video interview
Monday, October 1, 2007
Arabella Uhry
The sword stretches longer than her height. But that doesn't stop 11-year-old Arabella Uhry from going after fencing dreams. To her, it doesn't matter how young or big you are. "Fencing is like my favorite subject, math: It's all about strategy."

Arabella doesn't listen to those who say, "That's for boys." She made the boys' soccer team at her school in New York City. She boxes. And, even though she admits she's a "tiny person," she trains and holds her own with the "big guys."

This tiny fencing champ started with the sport in the first grade. Arabella has competed and placed in national and regional competitions like the Empire State Games. Now her careful strategy is focused on getting to the mat at the Olympics 2012 or 2016.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live Video interview
ABOUT THIS BLOG

Young People Who Rock is a weekly interview series focused on people under 30 -- from CEOs to entertainers to athletes to community and political leaders -- who are doing remarkable things. CNN Anchor Nicole Lapin introduces them here, then interviews them Fridays on CNN.com Live. Log on in the 3 p.m. ET hour to catch the interviews.
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