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By Ryan Perry

The room is full of people you’ve never met, and because of your recent time spent as a homeschooler, the crowd offers excitement of all kinds. You’re not unaware of what it’s like to be around people; you’ve been to school and have siblings, but the diversity and freshness of this is different. You can’t expect any one specific thing because it’s so unlike anything you’ve felt before.

This is how Z’eani Furdge felt as she stepped into her first day of the Mississippi Youth Media Project. At 16, Furdge is keen on expressing herself in many different forms, from her love of song and dance to the jewelry she makes herself.

After spending her past two years in homeschooling so she could find her own voice, Furdge is jumping headlong into social interaction at the Youth Media Project. She plans to attend public school next year but says she doesn’t know where exactly where that will be, as her family hasn’t decided where they’re moving. The Jackson area is a possibility, though.

Furdge sees YMP as an opportunity to talk about an issue she’s really passionate about: bullying. She points to her own passivity in situations when she could have helped as a driving factor.

At YMP, Furdge chose to be in the podcasting house to help her pave a future in which she has the opportunity to touch people with her words and voice as a radio host and/or a professional podcaster.  “I was just starting to be interested in podcasting, and the program came right on time,” she says.

Furdge has a desire to learn as much as she can about podcasting, as she spends much of her free time listening to them. She seeks to know the ins and outs of their production, not just simply hosting or audio work.

She approaches the topic of race and juvenile justice in a way that’s becoming more common in her generation. She has seen the problems firsthand. When she was in fifth grade, a white classmate berated her for her color. She says this wasn’t a traumatizing experience by any means, but it has stuck with her. She also understands, though, that it’s not as bad as it once was and that she’s growing up in “the least racist generation yet.”