Sitting on the dusty piano bench, his fingers touched the keys as if he was inviting a beautiful melody bound to get stuck in your head for hours. It was as though he was ready to give a performance that only a few people around him would be lucky to hear.
He played with passion, the same kind of passion he expresses about his cause — climate change.
Psychology major Adrian Arrivillaga is taking charge to create change. Climate change and global warming are two topics he has devoted his time to as an undergraduate.
Arrivillaga will be taking community members and Plattsburgh State students to New York City to join groups from all over the country for the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21.
The march is expected to bring historic numbers to peacefully confront the United Nation leaders who will be meeting about the climate in New York City that day. It will bring activists and volunteers from over 1,000 businesses, unions, faith groups, schools, environmental groups and many others with the goal to reach U.N. leaders and start a peaceful change, according to peoplesclimate.org.
“We want to send a message to the U.N. leaders that people want things to change and that people are willing to make it happen,” Arrivillaga said.
There will be more than 18,000 people in attendance, excluding those without a Facebook page. The activists who are heading the event are calling it the “largest march in history,” according to Climate March’s event page on Facebook.
One of Arrivillaga’s greatest influences is Noam Chomsky, an institute professor emeritus at the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. Chomsky has had an impact on Arrivillaga because of the many social movements he has been a part of and his wide perspective on these issues.
“I want people to be aware of the issues that the world is facing,” Arrivillaga said. “I hope that people will step up to make the change.”
Besides accepting this huge undertaking, Arrivillaga is taking advantage of all that PSUC has to offer. He has worked in the psychology department on research experiments that focus on climate change and global warming.
Arrivillaga has been a teaching assistant for the class History and Modern Systems, taught by William Tooke.
“He is a very bright, helpful and motivated student,” Tooke said. “He is eager to do whatever he can to help. I love having heated discussion about religion and military,” he said with a smile.
At a very young age, Arrivillaga started watching Democracy Now, a news program that brings up important world issues that affect everyone across the world.
Arrivillaga became a member of the Environmental Action Committee last year. The EAC is a club on campus that is committed to serving PSUC with environmental-related service projects and awareness, which is what Arrivillaga is accomplishing with the People’s Climate March.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he is involved in a movement like this at all because he is so confident and capable,” Tooke said. “He is a model student. The fact that he can accomplish what he is accomplishing, and also dealing with all the things that go along with being an international student, is amazing.”
Prior to attending PSUC, Arrivillaga lived in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Arrivillaga came to New York as a college freshman, wanting to experience things he never had before.
“I wanted to go somewhere different than my home — somewhere cold,” he said. After his experience here, he decided it is time to go “somewhere warm” again.
This semester he has made time for extracurricular activities such as intramural sports. He has played soccer all his life, but has not been able to play much since he came to Plattsburgh. This semester he is playing with two intramural soccer teams.
Sanchir Enkhmend, international alumnus from Mongolia, has witnessed Arrivillaga’s “passion for his interests.”
“We met when I was a junior, and we bonded over music,” Enkhmend said. “Not long after that we started to have an influence on each other.”
Enkmend was part of ACB’s Coffeehouse Committee during his time at PSUC, which Arrivillaga performed in regularly.
“He is just an awesome guy,” Enkmend said. “He made me become aware of a lot of things and has helped me shape who I am today.”
Enkmend has been tagging along with Arrivillaga to protests and rallies for a few years now, and he will “continue to support him and volunteer with him.”
“I want to do important work within my field,” Arrivillaga said. “I want to focus on issues that affect others.”
Enkmend said, “I hope he starts a revolution.”
Email Lisa Scivolette at firstname.lastname@example.org.