Sixteen-year-old Trent Josiah Huizar is unlike many youths his age as he captures stories about people worldwide while uniting with them through language.
The multi-lingual, Desert Mountain High School student has traveled to nearly 25 countries, documenting indigenous people and their languages.
Highlighting commonalities of people throughout the world, he speaks various languages including French, Russian, Spanish and Slovakian.
"TJ," as he is called, was a member of the Phoenix Boys Choir and spent three summers traveling with the choir, visiting places including China and Spain.
He went to the country of Slovakia for one month with a friend and his family. Last summer, he spent more than five weeks in Australia and New Zealand with another friend and their family.
“Ever since my first international trip to China in 2017, I have been interested in connecting with humans from opposite sides of the world in order to understand more about our accomplishments as a species. My love for language allows me to discover more aspects of life from people around the world,” said TJ.
Much of his free time is spent learning and maintaining many languages.
After attending BASIS Scottsdale schools from fifth to eighth grades, where he learned Latin, “the root of most languages,” he developed a fondness for linguistics.
“Overall, I enjoy watching films and being immersed into different realities, and I especially enjoy watching them in foreign languages for practice,” TJ said.
Downplaying his fluency in many languages saying, “Generally, one can only ever be fluent in the languages they have spoken since childhood or studied in school,” he noted his proficiency in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Persian, Slovak, Czech, Bulgarian, and is learning Polish for an upcoming Polyglot conference in Poland.
“We love to travel,” said his mother, Conay Huizar, a City of Scottsdale Human Relations Committee Commissioner.
She and her family including her husband, Trent, who works at ADP; daughters, Kiara, who graduates from Desert Mountain this year, and Kenzie, a seventh-grader at Mountainside Middle School, will go to Poland with TJ in May when he attends the conference.
“We are so proud of TJ. He inspires us,” Ms. Huizar said.
“I want people to view TJ as a person who knows that he alone can make a small difference in the world. If every person strived to make a difference, the world would flourish.”
Ms. Huizar is a small business owner who her son also takes after as he started his own company called, The Planet Project, which he described as “the result of years of ideas, which eventually evolved into a collage of the two things I love: Language and storytelling,” all documented on YouTube.
“My peers enjoy my films and many of them even have long discussions with me about how the films changed their perspective. My church had a viewing party of my film Indigenous; many of my peers attended. My friend Ben Baldwin went with me to Europe. He was the cinematographer for the film, Indigenous,” said TJ.
“I’ve been told I’m ‘Youtube famous’ at my school --- whatever that means.”
Indigenous Caucasia, was TJ’s first, full-length documentary on his journey finding the lost languages of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
The film was recently accepted in The Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival, an annual event recognizing community leaders and members for their contributions to improve and elevate “the dignity of humanity,” through such things as short films and documentaries.
Aside from him devoting time to learning various languages and traveling the world, TJ wants to pursue higher education in any central European or east Asian college, he said, noting that he is enticed by the Charles University of Prague, the University of Taiwan, and the University of Berlin.
Although his mother said she hopes TJ works for the U.S. government and “serves his country with his gifts,” he wants to pursue a career in documentaries and storytelling around the world or in language interpretation, which is a stark difference from his first job.
“At the age of 15, I was fired from Chick-Fil-A --- my first job, and on my first day of work --- but, I was hired back the very same day,” he said.