A Chinese citizen studying in the U.S., Li Keira Yin wins this month’s Student in the Spotlight award for her contributions to News Decoder’s community.

Decoder Spotlight Li Keira Yin of The Thacher School

She has published more stories on News Decoder and won more awards than any other student in our 6-½ year history.

A former News Decoder Student Ambassador raised in China, she organized a webinar featuring students from her school in California and peers from Romania.

A student at The Thacher School, Li Keira Yin has distinguished herself through her poetry, photographs, personal reflections and on-the-ground reporting in remote regions of her home country and wins this month’s Student in the Spotlight award.

“My voice can make a difference,” Yin said when asked what she has learned from working with News Decoder.

Li Keira Yin is the fifth Thacher student to win a Spotlight award.

Yin has published four articles on the News Decoder — on Uighurs and the Tibetan languages, California’s water problems and her experience as a Chinese national studying in the United States. She has another two stories in the works.

She won prizes in two News Decoder Storytelling Contests and helped organize and produce a webinar on transatlantic perspectives on nationalism featuring students from Thacher and Transylvania College in Romania.

Outside of school and through Harvard Innovation Labs, Yin co-founded a student-led mental health nonprofit in southern China. Fluent in Chinese and English, she works with The Foreign Policy Youth Collaborative, a foreign policy media platform established by teenagers.

Yin is the fifth student from Thacher, a boarding school in Ojai, California, to win the Student in the Spotlight award, which honors outstanding students at News Decoder’s 22 partner schools in 17 countries.

‘News Decoder has provided me with opportunities to collaborate.’

We asked Yin about her work with News Decoder.

Q: What have you learned in your work with News Decoder?

Yin: I started getting involved with News Decoder at the end of my sophomore year during COVID-19 lockdowns. Wide-eyed and inexperienced, my only knowledge of media literacy and journalism was through writing and taking photographs a couple of times for The Notes, Thacher’s student-run newspaper. Following the guidance of Skye Neulight and Saga Leslie (ND Student Ambassadors before me), who were both my friends and mentors in writing and journalism, I started using the News Decoder platform as a way of expanding my journalistic skills. I learned about the four-step publication process of Pitching, Reporting, Drafting and Revising. I became aware of the importance of good interviews and primary sources in a news article, as those are usually what makes the piece relevant and unique. I garnered the skill of asking good and straightforward questions to my interviewees and following etiquettes of respect and integrity in terms of quoting their words. Through planning media literacy workshops and webinars, News Decoder also provided me with opportunities to collaborate with and share novel perspectives with people across the world. I would say that the webinar with Transylvania College in Romania was truly eye opening for me.

Q: What advice would you give a student who wants to engage with News Decoder?

Yin: Do not be afraid to reach out if you have any questions! The staff and experts at News Decoder are extremely helpful, and they always respond to my questions within 24, if not 48 hours. The advice and guidance they provide are always succinct and manageable, as they understand we are students and teens who are relatively new to journalism and published writing. In terms of finding stories you want to compose and leads to follow, take note of the little things that pique your interest from day-to-day life. I think with the Minority Language article I wrote, I got the inspiration from overhearing my grandma’s conversations: though she speaks dialects at home with us, she immediately switched to Mandarin when picking up the phone. I started wondering why dialects and minority languages have to be overpowered by Mandarin in China, and so I dug deeper.

Q: How do you hope what you’ve learned with News Decoder will help you in the future?

Yin: Aside from practical writing, interviewing and organizational skills that News Decoder provided me, an important lesson I learned was how influential the media is in terms of determining how people think about the world and what people know. Stemming from this realization, I hope I will carry a sense of devotion and genuine responsibility to journalism and what I publish in the future, knowing that my voice can make a difference.


Nicole DiSante is News Decoder’s Program and Communications Intern. Originally from the U.S. state of Arizona, she moved to Paris in January 2020 to begin a master’s program in Global Communications at the American University of Paris. She has worked with youth in leadership programs in Brazil and Mexico. An advocate of experiential learning, she enjoys playing music and practicing dance.

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Students in the SpotlightDecoder Spotlight: Li Keira Yin of The Thacher School
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