Borders teenager tells First Minister about US trip intended to help hope overcome hate

Sanna Aziz, 17, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and, centre, fellow MSYP Steven Sutherland.
Sanna Aziz, 17, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and, centre, fellow MSYP Steven Sutherland.
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Galashiels Academy pupil Sanna Aziz has met Scottish Government First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss ways of resolving conflict.

The 17-year-old, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, took part in a two-week trip to the US in August as part of an exchange programme in memory of murder victim Jo Cox, an MP in West Yorkshire from 2015 until her death the year after.

Sanna and other Scots involved in the programme, launched to give young people aged 16 to 24 the chance to share ideas on how communities can work together to promote inclusion and stand up to hate and extremism, were asked to discuss how it went with Ms Sturgeon.

Sanna, left, is pictured with fellow MSYP Steven Sutherland and Ms Sturgeon.

The Borders teenager said: “I was humbled to be given this amazing opportunity and to be able to expand my knowledge of the world and how it works.

“Since returning home, I have been sharing what I learned to try to make the Scottish Borders a more inclusive place.

“The group of young people I went on the trip with were all different and yet united in their fight for the one common goal – fighting for equality.

“Everyone wanted to learn from the experience and from each other.

“We had been given this great opportunity and wanted to ensure we made the best of it.

“I came back clear that I have work to do.

“I have a 12 month plan of things I want to achieve before I head off to university, but I will always continue to do my best in the fight for equality.

“I was very happy to discuss the Jo Cox memorial exchange trip with the First Minister. She was very interested in the exchange and what our projects are going to be in our communities.”

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s children and young people’s champion, said: “This was an amazing opportunity for Sanna, and I have no doubt that she made the most of her experience.

“The visit to Holyrood was organised because it was felt that this should be shared at the highest level in Scotland so that the First Minister is aware of the amazing young people who reside within her country.”