20-year-old May Wang describes herself as optimistic and joyful with a strong zest for life. She believes these values help define her. “These transcend any racial, religious, or cultural identities I may hold and are attributes that I feel like deeply resonate with me,” she said.
May knew the power of her voice from a young age. She credits this to the encouragement of her parents and her upbringing. “My parents taught me from an early age that there are stereotypes for women and minority groups, especially Asian Americans, to be considered quieter or submissive, but that was all they were - stereotypes,” she said.
“My parents taught me from an early age that there are stereotypes for women and minority groups, especially Asian Americans, to be considered quieter or submissive, but that was all they were - stereotypes.”
May is building on her childhood experience and using her passion for others to make a difference in the world. “When I was a child, I grew up in a motel environment as my dad managed a motel near Disneyland,” she said. “We saw the wasted linens that were discarded weekly because they had slight imperfections.”
Today, May is the Founder of Linens N Love and a Yale-NUS College student, a liberal arts college in Singapore. She and her organization repurpose hotel linens and home essentials for those in need. Through her work, she wants to unite passionate Gen Z’ers who have the zest, creativity, and joy to lift others. “Our Linens N Love community is a source of great pride and joy because everyone comes together from around the world to unite under a core mission of sustainability, charitable giving, and synergistic partnerships between hotels and shelters,” she said. “It has been amazing to see how people take one idea and run with it as their own through creative fundraisers and awareness campaigns. I feel inspired and overjoyed by seeing the impact our work has on driving other great changes.”
As an exceptional Gen Z’er using her voice for good, she was honored for her work in Economics through the ConversationaLIST. “You don't have to wake up and decide to found a nonprofit to do good things,” she said. “The kindness and positive energy you put into the world add up to a large impact.”
“The kindness and positive energy you put into the world add up to a large impact.”
May wants the next generation to know that they've inherited a challenging world with many issues at hand, but they can mobilize and create change. She hopes to leave behind a legacy of sincerity, kindness, and self-care.
In five years, May hopes to expand Linens N Love worldwide and strengthen its roots everywhere. “I dream of building a reliable global network and widely recognizable nonprofit, and will [attend] law school after graduating from Yale-NUS,” she said.
May loves The Conversationalist's mission to break open echo chambers. In her experience, there's something special about realizing your biases or breaking out of the comforts of like-minded people. “I think that openness to new experiences and perspectives is valuable, and that's what speaks to me the most about The Conversationalist,” she said.
For May, in a unified world, people value openness, kindness, and curiosity. She believes Gen Z can help build this by being aware of cancel culture and performative social media behavior. “There's a huge difference between that and tolerance, acceptance, and sincerity,” she explained. “The whole goal is to spark a conversation and encourage non-judgmental awareness - not perform to the world how woke you may be.”
“The whole goal is to spark a conversation and encourage non-judgmental awareness - not perform to the world how woke you may be.”
To break open her echo chamber, May spends time on Omegle and Soul. She said it's a fun way to meet strangers and the random allocation means that she can experience new perspectives and fun conversations she wouldn’t have otherwise.
When it comes to dealing with difficult conversations, May tries to stay centered. “I ask myself: what is the goal of today's conversation? Is it to win an argument? Persuade someone to change their minds?” she said. “If I feel like my conversation mind frame is any of the above, I try to recenter myself in allowing the other party the respect and space to listen to my side, too, while listening to theirs,” she said.
Big snaps to May Wang for all she does to inspire change. Keep up with her on Instagram to learn more about all of her impactful work.