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How are global youth changing our future? Are they Generation We or Me?

I have a draft of a book about how global youth are changing our future, based on almost 3,500 surveys, extensive dialogues, interviews and visits with young people from 66 countries. I find them to be thoughtful, altruistic, creating a new non-hierarchical paradigm, and inclusive. They’re comfortable with women in leadership positions. The main differences between them are not their nationalities but whether they live in an urban or rural area. If you would like to critique and add to chapters, I’m glad to share. The main debate in the US is if youth are narcissistic and apathetically caught up in consumerism or if they are making changes in nontraditional ways, volunteering, and questioning authority. What are your observations about how young people are changing the old ways of doing things? Are you hopeful or worried? Will they be able to turn around failures like the inability of the Rio+20 to make binding agreements to protect the planet? I’d especially like to hear from Millennials; the open-ended book questions are on my Wordpress blog. Thanks, Gayle Kimball


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  • Jul 5 2012: I am a young high school teacher, so I encounter these kids on a daily basis. The thing I find most striking is how easily swayed they are and how little depth of knowledge they have. They do have a greater connectivity with the whole world, and exposure to a massive amount of ideas and cultures which make them more aware of issues and needs and events which makes them very sympathetic and open; however, for each of these areas, they don't know any more than a snippet or an image. They want to spring to action, but without being armed with knowledge or commitment. In the "me vs. we" lens, they are an apparent "we", but the "we" is often driven by the emotions of the "me", many times without having a deeper foundation. This often creates waves of movement which aren't really directed towards a solid good, or which quickly fades. However, for those who do find or have the foundations, I see them charging forward with an incredible influence for real change and good.
    • Jul 5 2012: Interesting. Would your students like to be heard in my global youth book? Here are the questions:

      Greetings from California. I'm writing a book that gives you and other young people around the world an opportunity to say what's on your mind. This is your chance to be heard. Many of you have wonderful suggestions for how to make our world a better to live in, so I'm asking people age 19 and under to respond to 10 questions. I have translations in other language.
      See www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Global-Youth-SpeakOut/160382763986923 for photos.
      (I’ve written other peer-based books for youth, including The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide and How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce: Kids’ Advice to Kids.) Please also forward to kids and their teachers so they can be part of the global youth book.
      Thanks, Gayle Kimball, Ph.D. gkimball@csuchico.edu

      1. If you could ask a question of the wisest person in the world,
      what would you ask her or him about life?
      2. What bothers you in your daily life? What practice best helps you stay calm?
      3. If there was one thing you could change about adults, what
      would it be?
      4. What would you like to change about yourself?
      5. What do you like to do for fun?
      6. When have you felt most loved by someone else?
      7. Why do you think you’re here on earth; what’s your purpose? How are you influenced by global media (TV, Internet, advertisements, etc?)
      8. On a scale of 1 to 100, how highly would you grade your
      school? Why?
      9. What work would you like to do when you're an adult?
      10. If you were the leader of your country, what changes would you make?
      11. Imagine you get to write on a T-shirt going on a trip around the world. What do you want your T-mail to say to people?

      What questions are missing that you’d like to answer? Your email. . . . . . .
      What first name would you like used in the book to quote you?
      How old are you?
      Girl or boy?
      What city and country do you live in?
      Gracias! Merci! Danke! Arrigato! Chi
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        Jul 9 2012: Gale, I would like to know who they are really influenced by in their own opinion.
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      Jul 8 2012: Dear Bridget,
      I firstly wish to thank you for your work, which i consider a societal service akin to the military. I have stated before that I have five of my own and cannot imagine how people manage an entire class!
      I wonder if you might consider that what you are seeing is like green apples. Of course they are sour = they are not ripe and in the same way, of course they are ill informed and full of energy - they have not yet reached that fully formed stage. Perhaps my take is too simplistic?
      • Jul 8 2012: Hi Debra,
        A valid question- but I interact with college students as well, and I definitely see it there, and I am 26 and I think it is often the case for my peers as well... and for myself! I think it might be a cultural more than age-based phenomenon because of the way we get our information, but today's kids are growing up with it as their avenue of information, which I think is [mis?]forming the way they look for information. I think it keeps them satisfied with what they can find quickly, which is often superficial or biased. It takes a focused education concentration to help them expand out of that. So in a sense, you are right, it is a stage, but one which not all have the guidance to grow out of.
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          Jul 9 2012: So much information and wisdom in a small space, Bridget, Thank you. Yes, two things came to mind, sound bites and my warning to my kids that just because people live in big bodies does not mean that they are grown up inside.
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      Jul 12 2012: Bridget, I was working with young people several decades ago and still do. What you observe about not recognizing when there is inadequate, superficial, or biased information but desperately wanting to act for the social good was just as true then as now. There were always people who wanted nothing to do with "the system" and also others who cared enough about change to want to work for it rather than complain in a sort of proud and detached way at the sidelines.
      Do you remember yourself and your peers from ten years ago? Were you different or similar?
    • Jul 14 2012: The "we" is driven by the "me" beautifully said and an excellent synopsis of my generation. We is a buzzword used among the millennial zeitgeist that is more indicative of "I'm a good person" rather than feelings of true camaraderie.

      "Altruism", "social justice", and pop psychology are the staples of my generation.

      Altruism is a buzzword that also means I'm a good person and I'm looking out for your best interest so help ME out.

      Generation "We" makes it sounds all inclusive but in reality it is an easily swayed adolescent mob where everyone is attempting to hijack the group for their own self interest.

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