About Global Youth
Over 4,000 young people from 74 countries SpeakOut!
Future leaders reveal trends in global youth culture and activism. They identify crucial global issues to reveal future directions. Two books in progress address this theme:
Awesome: How Global Youth Culture is Transforming Our Future
Horizontal: How Global Youth Activists Are Transforming Our Future
For the last 8 years, I’ve traveled around the world doing research for a book on how global youth are transforming our future, collecting 3,800 responses to the book questions from 73 countries. I stayed with families in Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, England, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and Tanzania.
1. Is there a global youth community?
I was surprised to discover an urban youth culture that transcends national boundaries. Because of electronic communication unique to their generation, youth share music, slang, clothing styles, and values as Jao illustrates and Maham, a Pakistani 13-year-old explains.
If youth meet from 10 different countries with different religions and backgrounds, they will have ideas in common, now that globalization is common and cultural boundaries are reducing. The habits include image consciousness, being tech savvy, living life for today, ignoring consequences of their actions, and being reactive. I feel most of them have complaints about restrictions on them or have problems with how their parents don’t get them right. I certainly do believe that there is a global youth. All the youth can stand together and fight against the differences. Maham, 13, f, Pakistan
2. What characterizes this global community?
A recent survey of 15,000 young people from 24 countries found what defines them is a sense of global community, tolerance, and a desire to share and connect.
Nini, 22, told me about the influence of the global media on her family’s activities and values in New Delhi, India, as you can see on our YouTube interview listed under TheGlobalyouth: She said,
We’ve been influenced by western culture, because of the media. Youth are not as reserved due to westernization. We have the freedom to go out and study and establish a profession, while my mother’s generation married at 20. More women are aware of women’s rights. TV shows educate and motivate women.
People then were more involved with the extended family, now we’re more nuclear family. We don’t live jointly as much, although my uncles live below us. We hardly see family because we’re so busy. My father tries to get the family together every weekend [all three young people live at home but the two in their 20s work and take classes].
We’re more money oriented, instead of values. We’re influenced by the Internet. As kids, we were more likely to go out and play and now kids use IPod and Xbox and gain weight. Little kids know the world because of the Internet. [Her observation was backed up by a recent market survey of over 4,000 kids 6 to 12 from 12 countries that found them aware of global problems like the economy and the environment.]
3. What concerns them?
*This is the largest, best educated, and healthiest generation in history. But there’s a widening gap between the rich and the poor. About 40% of the world lives on $2 a day or less, three-quarters of them in rural areas. [photo] This is Marshal, an illiterate girl in NW Pakistan. You can read an interview with her on my blog on Wordpress. She has no power over her own life, only briefly met her fiancé, and says she has no fun in her life. interviewed by Hassan, a university student who teaches in the literacy program we started because of Mashal, when he asked
When have you felt most loved by someone else? Mashal replied,
Never. My parents have not studied much so they don't show their emotions. In fact, they don't understand. I have never felt loved by anyone. Everyone orders me to do work for them. I just stay home, do the household chores everyday, and listen to my parents complain about food, work, money, etc.
*The economic problems facing young people, who have the highest unemployment rate world-wide, resulted in a cascade of youth-led uprisings against inequality starting in 2011: Tunisia to Egypt and Yemen, to Spain, Greece and Israel, to Chile, the US, Russia, and most recently to Turkey and Brazil. [map] Kids as young as 10 are leading reforms and you’ve probably heard of Malala, the 16-year-old champion of education for girls.
4. *How is this community of youthful changemakers different from the 1960s activists? How will they change our future?
This generation values horizontal rather than vertical organizing, pride themselves on being leaderless and are not ideological. They’re egalitarian. No radical today would say what Stokley Carmichael, head of SNCC, commented in 1964 when asked the position of women in his organization---“prone.”
*The bottom line for the global future is the environment. Rural kids I talked with don’t know about global warming, but they don’t do much to pollute. Urban youth are concerned about it, but a UN study found that like us, they haven’t gotten that our lifestyles need to fundamentally change. The Dalai Lama said the world will be saved by Western women, but I’d change that to global youth because of their access to information and their ability to quickly organize large groups of peers.