Discussion Activities Chapter 1
You’re invited to post your answers here or Facebook page Global Youth SpeakOut. These questions draw from Awesome: How Global Youth Transform Our Future by Gayle Kimball.
*Compare similarities and differences in the lives of the four young people profiled in this chapter from Brazil, Tanzania, Pakistan and China. Who would you most like to talk with and why? How are they similar or different from youth you know? Do you see hybrid blending of local and global culture in their lives and attitudes?
*What characteristics do you observe common to young people internationally, based on your observations of film, music, political movements and ways of organizing, values and goals? What are the global influences in your own life? Do you agree that much of global culture is youth culture?
*Read about some youth change makers on http://www.global1.youth-leader.org/about-2/get-inspired-youth-leadership/
*What are the most pressing global issues and main influences shaping them when you think about the future? Do you agree with Alvin Toffler than technological changes (i.e., plow, printing press, steam engine, computer) are the main drivers of historic change?
*Do youth have power despite their lack of experience in the world? Why are they the most ignored age group by researchers?
*Is there an ethnic district in a city you can visit such as China Town? What similarities and differences do you see compared to the dominant culture in your area?
*Talk with young people around the world as on TakingItGlobal (www.tigweb.org), or Voices of Youth (Unifcef.org/voy), or my Global Youth SpeakOut on Facebook.
*Watch films about urban youth and their families compared to rural youth, and the migration of rural youth to cities. What differences do you see? Poverty is an overriding problem. If you were the ruler of the world, how would you tackle it? Possible films about rural vs. urban life are:
Stolen Life about Chinese rural migrants to the city. Stolen Life. It shows the class system where city people look down on rural peasants. A freshman university student is corrupted by a scheming boyfriend. (China, 2005)
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. During the Cultural Revolution, two intellectual city boys are sent to the countryside. The shows the impact of the country on them, and visa versa, especially the young seamstress who falls in love with reading. (2002)
The Road Home. An 18-year-old girl in a mountain village falls in love with the new 20-year-old schoolteacher. There’s no kissing in this love story, lots of eye contact and cooking food for him. (China, 1999)
Mao’s Last Dancer: An Australian film about a peasant boy—the sixth son in his family—who was raised during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, trained in Beijing to be a ballet dancer. The film is based on his autobiography, with flash backs from his rural boyhood to dancing in Texas. 2009
Born in Brothels. It follows the stories of several children growing up in the red-light district of Calcutta, and the impact made on them when they are given cameras to record their daily lives. (India, 2004)
Slumdog Millionaire. A slum boy ends up on a quiz show and his friends as they grow up. (India, 2008)
City of God shows crime life in a favela/slum in Rio, Brazil. (2002)
City of Men. About two 18-year-old boys who grew up in RIo slums. (2007)
Bus 174: A documentary about a former street kid who hijacks a city bus in Rio. (Brazil, 2003)
Only When I Dance. 18-year-old Irlan succeeds as a ballet dancer, stating, “My greatest desire is to give my parents a better life.” Isabela, 17, struggles less successfully to leave slum life behind. Her dark skin keeps her from being accepted in a Brazilian dance company. (Brazil, 2009)
The Zone. A walled compound of wealthy families in Mexico City is broken into by three teen boys who try to steal from one of the homes. One of slum boys, Miguel, hides out and is befriended by another teen who lives in the compound, Alejandro. The film shows the gap between rich and poor, how the police can be bribed and the rich take justice into their own hands. It’s violent. (2007)
Born in Brothels. It follows the stories of several children growing up in the red-light district of Calcutta, and the impact made on them when they are given cameras to record their daily lives. (2004)
Hermano. Two teen soccer players live in a Caracas slum, one of them is in a gang. (Venezuela, 2012)
Yesterday. An illiterate Zulu farmwoman, whose husband works in the mines in Johannesburg, learns she had AIDS. She is determined to stay alive until her daughter starts school. Shows village life. (South Africa, 2004)
Beat the Drum is about orphans who live on the streets of Johannesburg. (South Africa, 2002)
A Separation. A middle-class couple in Tehran separate because the mother wants to leave Iran. The father brings in a lower-class caregiver for his father who has Alzheimer’s disease. She brings her young daughter with her. Their 11-year-old daughter Termeh is caught in the middle of her parents’ disagreements. She lies to prevent her father from going to jail after an incident where he pushes the caregiver out of his door and she has a miscarriage. Masoud Ferasati, an Iranian writer close to government said: “The image of our society that A Separation depicts is the dirty picture Westerners are wishing for.” It’s similar to the film Divorce Iranian Style. (Iran, 2011)
Bliss tells the story of an ex-commando who is ordered by his family to kill his 17-year-old cousin, an “honor killing,” because she was raped and “tainted.” It contrasts the differences between rural and urban lifestyles and shows the girl’s increasing strength to stand up for herself. (Turkey, 2007)
Nairobi Half Life. A young aspiring actor, Mwas migrates from a village in rural Kenya to Nairobi and is exposed to slum life and gang crime. (2012)
Machuca. The film takes place in 1973, when the first socialist president democratically elected in a Latin-American country, President Salvador Allende is murdered. The story is about an upper-class boy who meets a lower-class boy when their Catholic school is integrated. Their friendship is torn apart by the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. (Argentina, 2004)
To Be and to Have. A documentary about a dedicated teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in a rural French village. 2003
Owl and the Sparrow. A 10-year-old orphan girl lives on the streets of Saigon. (2006)
The Story of the Weeping Camel. A family of nomadic shepherds raises a white camel calf. (Mongolia, 2004)
In America: an Irish immigrant family comes to live in a tenement in New York City, told from the point of view of the little girls. (US, 2003)
Beasts of the Southern Wild. A six-year-old black girl lives ion an island in the Louisiana bayou with her alcoholic and sick father in poverty without electricity, both of them first-time actors. Her father refers to her as “man,” and teaches her to be a tough and survivor. (US, 2012)
Films about discrimination against indigenous young people:
Map of the Human Heart. About an Eskimo boy Avik, nicknamed Holy Boy, by a New Zealand filmmaker. It shows his corruption by western culture. (Eskimo, 1993)
Walkabout tells the story of an aboriginal boy who befriends two lost children. (Australia, 1971)
Rabbit-Proof Fence. True story about three indigenous girls (ages 8-14) who are kidnapped and taken to a missionary school in the 1930s because they are half white, and escape to travel hundreds of miles on foot with no food or water or map to get back home. The girls had no previous experience as actors. (Australia, 2002)
Kite Runner: Takes place in Afghanistan in the 1970s, about a Pashtun boy and underclass Hazara boy. (Afghanistan, 2007)
Discussion Activities Chapter 2
- Adults often focus on the negative aspects of young people, such as delinquency, yet view them as the source of what’s cool and trendy. Is there both a war on kids and a desire to be like them? What explains this contradiction?
- Some say Generations Y and Z are different from Baby Boomers who said not to trust anyone over 30 in their closeness to their parents. Others say there’s a generation gap due to different lifestyles, values and reliance on technology. Which seems most accurate to you?
- Helicopter parents are criticized for being too controlling and demanding school success. Agree or disagree? What about kids who are neglected by their parents?
- Millennials are the “relationship generation,” who like to spend time with their parents. Has the generation gap narrowed? SpeakOut youth criticized adults for their bad habits, judgmentalism, lack of understanding, bossiness, and being stressed and angry. How can these two dichotomies exist at the same time?
- Look through print media ads to see how youth are portrayed.
- Interview different generations in your family, asking them how they would characterize Baby Boomers (born 1943 to 1960, using Neil Howe’s dates), Gen X (1961-1981), Gen Y (1982-2004), and Gen Z (2005-present).
Observe the generational differences in this first generation Indian family in the US, England, and Canada:
The Namesake. After an arranged marriage in Calcutta, the couple comes to New York for his work. The film is about their son’s attempts to integrate Indian and American culture. 2007
Bend it Like Beckham. About an 18-year-old Punjabi Sheik girl is a good soccer player, but her parents don’t think its proper for an Indian girl to run around in shorts, even though they live in London, but she persists. 2002
In Between Days is about a young girl from South Korea and her lonely coming of age in Canada. 2006
Discussion Activities Chapter 3
- List people you know well by generation: Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generations Y and Z. Do you observe differences in their approach to life?
Do you agree that Baby Boomers tend to be individualistic, idealists, and rebels? Gen X alienated and reactive? Gen Y pragmatic optimists, civic minded? Gen Z Conformists, adaptive, protected
2. Are kids too protected and controlled by their parents, too pressured to get into a good university, resulting in fragile teacups that aren’t used to coping on their own?
- Globally, people generally agree that the difference between generations is young people’s grasp of technology. Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is the message, that our ways of thinking are shaped by the media we use, that how a message is delivered influenced our understanding of the information. Some young people use the term “hive mind.” Discuss.
- On the plus side, global media brings us instant information from around the world. On the minus side, it sells consumerism and breeds frustration. If you were in charge of all the media in the world, how would you change it? Would you extend it to villagers in rural areas?
1. Spend time with places where generations congregate and observe. Do volunteer work for a retirement center or school.
View films that critics feel characterize the various generations.
Films that define generation y
Greatest Generation: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Baby Boomers: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Graduate (1967), Easy Rider (1969), Saturday night Fever (1977), The Big Chill (1983), Forrest Gump (1994), the
Gen X: The Breakfast Club (1985), Reality Bites (1994),
Gen Y: The Social Network (2010), The Matrix (1999), The Lord of the Rings (2001), Harry Potter (2001), Twilight (2008), Juno (2008)
Valentin. Features an 8-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother, who dies. He makes friends with helpful adults. (Argentina, 2004)
Discussion Activities Chapter 4
- Can a person have too much self-esteem? Is Gen Y unrealistically self-confidant? What about cultures like Sweden where it’s not acceptable to stand out from the group?
- Some films portray youth self-centeredness as foolish, including most of the Gen Y characters in the HBO TV series Girls and the Indian film Dill Chatham Hay (2001). Some employers complain that Gen Y employees unrealistically expect to advance rapidly and be closely mentored. What do you notice?
- Globally, youth stand out as volunteers and social activists. How does this mesh with charges that they’re self-centered?
- Young people in developed countries are living longer with their parents as they extend their education and delay full-time employment. Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett thinks this time of freedom is a good advancement. What do you think?
Search the Internet for youth volunteers (http://www.unv.org/current-highlight/global-youth-service-day-2013.html, http://beta.gyvn.ca/) and social activists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_activism).
See the HBO TV series Girls and the Indian film Dill Chatham Hay (2001). What makes them act foolishly? How are they different from the older generations they interact with, like their parents and bosses? Compare them with earlier shows about friends in their 20s, including Friends and Gray’s Anatomy.
Discussion Activities Chapter 5
- Do you agree or disagree that a materialistic focus on money has corrupted youth, corrupting them into “Generation Sell” with the personality and values of a salesperson?
- How do corporations and their media campaigns influence our values and behaviors?
- Most people can’t achieve the lifestyle shown on TV and movies, leading to frustration. Will this lead to positive change or resigned bitterness and escape into drugs and alcohol?
- The planet can’t sustain the current consumption of resources, let alone accommodate growing middle classes who want cars and meat. How can the planet be saved?
- A defining quality of youth today is closeness to their parents. Will this counter materialistic consumerism?
Analyze print ads and those on television to see how they manipulate viewers, as by making them feel inadequate and unhappy without consuming the product advertised.
The Truman Show (1998) tells the story of a man who doesn’t know his life is a reality TV show. Fake media is fed to him to manipulate his thinking and prevent him from wanting to leave home.
The Joneses (2009) about “stealth marketers” who pretend to be a family.
Discussion Activities Chapter 6
- Some youth are being treated for addiction to electronic media as in China and the US. Does spending many hours a day in front of a screen interfere with youth’s ability to relate face-to-face? Understanding of reality? Interfere physiologically with calm linear thinking?
- Deandra in Indonesia says she learns a lot from global media, some of which her parents would forbid. Does media interfere with local values and traditions? If so, what remedies would you suggest?
- Several Egyptian young women said global media gave them the courage to rebel against dictators and sexism. Is it accurate to say that the youth led revolutions that started with the Arab Spring in 2011 wouldn’t have happened without global media?
- Media created a new identity, a way of defining ourselves by what we buy and consume, such as clothing with brand logos or driving a certain brand of automobile. A Danish commentator said, “Tasteless youth culture rules all.” Do you agree or disagree? What do your consumption practices say about your identity?
Look through print media and at TV ads to see how they manipulate us into buying, as by making us feel inadequate without their product to make us more feminine or masculine.
1. Look at Disney cartoons for examples of youth going against older tyrants as in The Lion King, Finding Nemo and Antz.
2. Listen to Manal al-Sharif discuss the impact of media on her revolution from traditional to advocate for women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia.
3. See Jean Kilbourne’s Killing us Softly: Advertisings Image of Women (1979), Still Killing Us Softly (1987), Spin the Bottle: Sex, Lies and Alcohol (2004), Slim Hopes: Advertising and the Obsession with Thinness (1995), and update with recent ad images. Study guides for the films and others are available online http://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/241/studyguide_241.pdf
4. See Miss Representation (2011) about how media portrays women in a way that keeps them from aspiring to power positions.
Discussion Activities Chapter 7
- Having everything given to you and decided for you leads to indifference explained Elena, an Italian teenager. What do you observe in families you know? Do you see helicopter parents and fragile teacups in action? Do you agree that some struggle and challenge is required when raising a child?
- A top priority for youth who can afford schooling is to get into a good university. Being a good student equates with good behavior, so can we accurately say that youth value most today is their educational success?
- Some scholars find that values change with the stages of economic development, from traditional and following the guidance of elders to modern individualism, relativism and secularism. Does this mean Karl Marx was correct that our economic setting shapes our beliefs?
- Is glocaiization, the hybrid blending of local and global cultures, happening around you? Some fault global culture for eradicating wonderful local traditions. What traditions carry on in your family? What do you observe among your family and friends?
- University student leaders said youth can be mediators between cultural tradition and cultural change. Agree or disagree? What direction are they taking us in terms of cultural change?
- Relationships seem to be the most important value for youth, along with doing good in the world. Do you see this value in action?
- Take the Cultural Creative quiz to see if you fit in this personality type (www.soulfulliving.com/culturalcreativequiz.htm). I identified with all the traits, do you?
Outsourced. An unexceptional American film about an American man who is sent to manage Indian workers in a call center near Mumbai. He learns about the importance of time with family and other Indian traditions. (2006)
Margaret. A 17-year old girl in New York City who struggles with the moral ramifications of having witnessed an accident. (US, 2011)
Discussion Activities Chapter 8
- Sahar defines traditional values as focusing on “us” rather than “me.” Agree or disagree? What values have been passed on through the generations in your family? Do you see a hybrid blend as in Eri’s Mexican-American family?
- Rural people value taking time to socialize with family and neighbors, enjoying simple pleasures of drinking tea and conversation with friends. How much time do you and your family socialize face to face?
- African writer Maldoma Some’ faults modern values for materialistic obsession with work, being a slave to the economic “machine.” Keep a time diary for a week to see how you spend your time and if your focus matches your values.
- The main target of global youth activists is neoliberalism. Research its origins, application, and impact on social programs that help poor people.
- Youth are more family-friendly than previous generations, perhaps because economic struggles make relationships seem more trustworthy and important. What are your observations of young peoples’ relationships with their parents?
- Interview the oldest relatives or neighbors you can find about how values and lifestyles have changed since they were young. What surprises them about young people today?
- Keep a time diary of how you actually spend your time. The average teen in the US spends over seven hours a day in front of electronic media. How much time do you spend?
Films: Look for the contrast between traditional and modern values
Monday’s Girls (Nigeria, 1993)
Fools Rush In (US, 1997)
Leila (Iran, 1998)
Yi Yi, A One and a Two (Taiwan, 2006)
Wadja (Saudi Arabia, 2012)
Discussion Activities Chapter 9
- Many countries have official religions where the head of state is the head of the official church—likely to be Christian or Muslim (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070521213521AATFY2P), while others have a tradition of atheism like China or separation of church and state like the US. In the survey of 15,000 global youth leaders cited in the chapter, 61% affirmed the separation of church and state, which of course means over one-third favor a national religion. What implications does this have for international relations?
- Youth tend to be less religious in the sense of attending religious services in developed countries compared to youth in developing and emerging nations. Could this trend be connected with a distrust of old bureaucratic institutions?
- Islam dominates world news with fighting between Sunni and Shia, young terrorist suicide bombers, fears of Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood versus the military in Egypt, etc. A website outlines jihad movements around the world (http://islamic-world.net/youth/jihad.htm). What can you find to explain these conflicts? How much has to do with frustration with poverty and unemployment?
- Religions generally share a belief in a higher dimension and the continuation of the soul after death. Some youth share this belief and some look to science to answer their questions. Where do you fit in this continuum of belief?
- Compare and contrast the points of view expressed by young people with different religious affiliation as revealed in quotations in the chapter.
- See if can name countries with an official religion in an online quiz (http://www.sporcle.com/games/anAmatuer/nationrelig)
- Attend religious services at a local mosque, synagogue, temple and church to learn about their message and how they convey them to the congregations. Do they have youth groups?
- Compare and contrast youth and religion websites (http://youthandreligion.nd.edu/related-resources/miscellaneous-youth-and-religion-sites links to Christian and Jewish sites).
““`www.muslimyouth.net for Muslim youth
Observe religious fundamentalism in
Water. About exploitation of Hindu child widows abandoned by their families in India during the time of Gandhi in the 1930s. 2005 the same writer/director made Fire (1996) and Earth (1998). A book describing the challenges from Hindu leaders while making Water is titled Shooting Water by the director’s daughter.
The documentary Jerusalem follows three teen girls in Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. (Israel, 2013)
Au Revoir Les Enfants. Tells the story of three Jewish boys who are taken from their school by the Nazis in 1944. (France, 1987)
The Devil’s Playground. A documentary about Amish youth who are brought up in a restricted environment (no education past 8th grade, no cars). When they’re 16 they’re turned loose to experience all the decadent delights the world has to offer, including drugs, sex, drinking, and cars. Then they have to decide if they want to give it all up and become Amish for the rest of their lives, or try to make it on their own (with no education and no family support of any kind) in the outside world. (US, 2002)
Discussion Activities Chapter 10
- What’s the difference between being religious or spiritual according to SpeakOut youth? To you?
- Many youth quoted in the chapter have an eclectic view of spirituality, drawing from Hindu deep breathing practices, yoga and the notion of karma; Buddhist meditation; and New Thought belief in the power of positive thinking developed in the US in the 19th century in churches like Unity and the Church of Religious Science. Is the wave of the future a hybrid global spirituality? If so, is that a good or bad development?
- Were you surprised that youth accused of being materialistic were so interested in the meaning of life and the afterlife?
- Some young people view human behavior as insane, cynics in the “post-everything era of the absurd,” existentialists who don’t believe in a spiritual meaning. They’re in the minority according to global surveys. Why?
- Youth’s emphasis on good works rather than faith repeats themes of the Protestant Reformation when a Catholic priest named Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) left the Catholic Church. He said that good works couldn’t earn salvation as that depended on God’s grace through faith in Jesus as the source of redemption. Does that mean youth today have less faith than previous generations?
- Participate in a meditation session and explore an online labyrinth (www.labyrinth.org.uk/onlinelabyrinthpage1.html)
Life of Pi. A popular film about a teenage Indian boy who survives being shipwrecked in a boat with a tiger. The first-time actor who plays Pi is 17-year-old Suraj Sharma from New Delhi. It explores the idea that there are multiple ways to look at philosophical questions and religion. 2012
Mongolian Ping Pong. Boys find a ping-pong ball in a creek and think it has magical special powers. Mongolia, 2005