Person of the Year 2023 picked by students: ‘Journalist Motaz Azaiza risks his life every day to tell the world about Gaza’

The Person of the Year 2023 has been announced by Time’s Magazine. The American singer and songwriter Taylor Swift is the face of 2023 because of her success in music as well as being able to have an impact on so many people. But she isn’t the only person who had a great impact on the world. Who would students pick if they were in charge of Person of the Year?

The concept itself has already been present since 1927. Since then, the person, group, or concept with the biggest impact of events that happened that year, is chosen. This choice is made by the editors and writers of Time’s Magazine (American newsmagazine) during a huge debate. Often, they pick a world leader or a big CEO, but this year they got their eyes on a celebrity. The selection is made with the thought that they were influential through good and worse, so some controversial people also became Person of the Year, like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

Along the short list of Time Magazine 2023 came names like Barbie, Xi Jinping (China’s President), and Sam Altman (CEO of OpenAI). From a total of nine names, Times Magazine picked the name of Taylor Swift as the most influential person in 2023. Besides the fact that she booked great success in her career this year, like a sold-out tour and her new albums, she also inspired women from all over the world with her story. She moved a lot of people by connecting them through her music. There came university classes about her music and even street signs were changed to her name. Taylor Swift made history this year.

1. Lina choses Motaz Azaiza, journalist in Gaza

Lina Benhaj chooses all journalists of Gaza, especially Motaz Azaiza. ‘Every day he’s showing the truth of what is happening in Gaza since he’s only one of the few journalists still alive in Gaza. It’s a really dangerous job and he, amongst other journalists are showing the world what’s going on, with risks for their lives. That makes him a hero for me.’

2. Ona picks Greta Gerwig, director of the Barbie movie

The feminist movement by Barbie was for Ona Van Dyck Colomer a huge swing in pop culture. ‘Barbie impacted quite a lot since it was for all ages. In the movie theatre, I saw little girls up to retired people. Greta Gerwig had been rising in general with movies, but now with Barbie there was a peak, also for the feminist movement. Since Barbie came out, I saw more women dressed in pink and embracing feminism. Even men went with Barbie-like clothes to the movie theatre. Even for myself, I didn’t like Barbie growing up, but even I was moved by the movie.’

Ona was impressed by the feminist touch of Barbie
Ona was impressed by the feminist touch of Barbie

3. Gijs opts for Average Rob, he finished an Iron Man this year

Gijs Vernimme got a lot of inspiration from Average Rob (Belgian content creator) this year. ‘He meant so much this year, but he also inspired us. From finishing an Iron Man to releasing a movie in the theatres for charity, the things he achieved this year make him the Person of the Year for me.’

Gijs looks up to the achievements of Average Rob

4. For Tharsice it is the people of Gaza, they keep on fighting

For Tharsice Commissaris, the citizens of Gaza deserve the title. ‘The fact that they’re still in Gaza and that dare to continue fighting for their land. They have suffered this year, and the past years as well, but they don’t give up.’

Tharsice compliments the perseverance of the people in Gaza

5. Katoo would go for Lotus Li,  former climate advisor with the Flemish Youth Council

Katoo Bourdon met Lotus Li this year, for a project around Untold Asian Stories, which Lotus Li established. With Untold Asian Stories, she wants more attention for the oriental cultures, since they aren’t heard enough. It was established after Corona since the Asian community experienced a lot of racism because of the origin of the virus. ‘Besides Untold Asian Stories, she was a member of the Flemish Youth Council as an expert in climate. She also advises an adoption agency and she engages herself in a multicultural society. The fact that she has done so much at the age of 21 is really impressive.’

6. Zegher would take Xander De Rycke, who laughs with the struggles of today

‘I think it’s very important to think critically, but also laugh from time to time with the things that are happening.’ That’s why Zegher Baerts would pick Xander De Rycke as Person of the Year. ‘His humor is identical with mine and I appreciate his brutality in his pieces. It’s a moment of relaxation listening to his pieces and podcasts.’

7. Kato and Chloé prefer Beyoncé over Taylor Swift

Kato Lion & Chloé De Deyne don’t agree with the decision of Time Magazine. According to them, they heard much more from Beyoncé than from Taylor Swift. ‘Beyoncé made a comeback this year, during her tour she even performed here in Belgium on the 14th of May. Blue Ivy (Beyoncé’s daughter) even went on stage, something that Taylor’s cats could never do. We also do have to confess that we aren’t the biggest fans of Taylor Swift.’

Text: Lotte van den Hout
Photos: © Lotte van den Hout