Over the past few days, I traveled to Georgetown University and Ohio University for several performances and workshops relating to the arts and social change. At Georgetown, I performed my poetry related to the greatness and potential of the African continent at their annual Africa Night. From their I traveled to Ohio to conduct a seminar on how to engage the African continent, followed by a performance dealing with alternative forms to media in the misinformation age. Being a youth motivational speaker, I became more and more inspired with each event and left these colleges with these three revelations that give me hope for the future.
1. Our youth DO care about what’s happening in t he world today. If you turn on the television today, you are not likely to see many positive stories showcasing young people. There are either stories about gun violence and flash mob store robberies, or stories about poor job markets and the bleak future college graduates face. In the face of all of this, so many of our youth persevere. The students I met were so optimistic about the future and dedicated to creating change and challenging stereotypes about them.
2. Our youth are committed to service. I’ve seen first hand that more of our youth than not are committed to service. The students at Georgetown and the University of Ohio are committed to raising awareness about conflicts and genocides taking place in countries like Congo, South Sudan, and Burma. They were either raising awareness with their projects or actually raising money to support people affected by these causes.
3. Our youth are really paying us no attention. They just do what they do. All of the negative stories about youth in the news seem to primarily be watched by other adults. Many youth I encounter just don’t care or don’t know what’s being said about them. They are too busy trying to survive or help others survive that our words and opinions about them often go with no response from them.
At the end of the day, we need to spend more time celebrating the great work our youth are doing. In doing so, we would not be so pessimistic and we would be more willing to engage them. In too many instances we’re often scared of them. To be scared of them is to be scared for the future and that is no way for us to live. The more we engage and celebrate our youth, the brighter our future will be. So what are you waiting for?