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Judy Goes Back to College

After a week of American tragedy, people might wonder about the younger generation.  Are they really violent and disenfranchised?


I just got back from teaching for a week at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, and working with these young students gave me hope. 

I had two responsibilities in the classes that I taught: to help students go from no act to a full standup act in preparation for a comedy showcase, and to assist graduating seniors in the drama department find their message.  I had 4 days.

They astonished me with their openness and willingness to reveal the dark messes of their lives, and turn those into a message and find the funny in it.  They revealed overcoming eating disorders, coming out to Bible Belt parents, and reaching out to alienated family members.

They got real, got personal, and came out of the class realizing what they stand for.  We talked at the end about how to use their message on job interviews, auditions, and speaking.  After all, when we get out of college, we all have limited credentials.  At that point in our life, the only thing we truly have is our message, and our value is in how we use that message to affect others.

I’ve found that as people get older, sometimes getting in touch with the past “messes” in our life is harder than pulling teeth.  Perhaps it’s because the more distant we get from those painful memories in our lives, the less comfortable it is to relive them.  Yet, this group of young students revealed all with utter authenticity, and the willingness to share and inspire others with their messages.

I can’t wait for the images of disturbed, violent youth to be replaced with young people like these who are truly willing to make a difference in other people’s lives.


Julie Brooks said...

I find that the younger generation has a large amount of difficulty speaking because technology is such a big part of their lives. I have seen a room full of college guys playing a video game with each other all in the same room for hours without speaking a word to one another. This is considered "hanging-out" and that is what I feel has lead to a decline in human interaction. Many of the graduating student will also have more anxiety than those of the past because the lack of human interaction.

Margie said...

If you believe that the younger generation can't speak, please listen to my students from New England Conservatory speak about their experiences of the last week in relation to the concert that they will play this evening here in Boston.
Hit the "listen" button.

Mr. Ed said...

Young kids are our future, most of them are good kids. Remember we were that age once, still learning and trying to figure out life. We need to trust in our future, out kids! I was a very smart kid Judy,
I got three degrees in just one semester! OK the truth, I dropped out of college after one semester and when I got home and told Mom she gave me the third degree! I look forward to your blogs Judy, they are always informative.

Timothy Sauer said...

Hello Judy,
To answer the question I really think we need more dialogue with and from our young people. Generation y/z are dealing with so many issue that are global in nature then ever before. As they navigate through dealing with both global issues and personal trials the"How" behind getting through those circumstancescan really help others as they go through similar problems. The social awareness that some of our young people have provides hope to me that our future will be preserved.


Tim Sauer
New Life Design

Timothy Sauer said...

Hello Judy,
To answer the question I really think we need more dialogue with and from our young people. Generation y/z are dealing with so many issue that are global in nature then ever before. As they navigate through dealing with both global issues and personal trials the"How" behind getting through those circumstancescan really help others as they go through similar problems. The social awareness that some of our young people have provides hope to me that our future will be preserved.


Tim Sauer
New Life Design

Anonymous said...

From my experience, you can't discount the youth. They are the future. Yet I see so many older folks discount people who are younger just based on age, even me in the legal field (I'm about 10 years old in Lawyer Years even though my career took a very different path). They minimize the student loan debt crisis, the job market and remind everyone about how they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps so why can't these "lazy kids?"

I think this generation is going to be far stronger than most. Think about it: these college grads are going out & having to work at McDonalds and retail jobs that used to be the norm for high school students. They've been hit very hard with the Great Recession and some young people have gone through far more in their young lives than others their age. In fact, their tech savvy is an asset in my book since oftentimes they know how to use technology to the fullest, be more efficient and come up with new ideas that are sorely needed in society.

Shutting them out is a harm to our society and plain foolish. As another commenter said, we were their age once. I was quite driven from a very young age & did go through some harder times than most (as one example, I got my first retail job at 15 years old after fighting against age discrimination when I was told I had to be 16 to work there despite getting interviewed, no posted policy about this and being honest about my age at all times).

These days, I feel compelled to help people coming up and give them room to share their ideas and thoughts in a safe place. You can't lump all young people into one box just as you wouldn't appreciate people lumping you into a box for whatever reason. Looking at the reality of their situations (today's tuition prices, cost of goods, average salaries, etc.) would also go a long way to understanding why these people feel cheated, unhappy, hopeful or anything else.

I consider myself Generation X though most year lists put me in Generation Y. I think everyone's story is valid & deserves some respect, which would go a long way to improving things if more people actually did it.

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Theresa Candelaria said...

Great read Judy.

I find that with the youth, if you give them your truth and love, they give back to you a hundredfold. And it always inspires me when I read about it.

I'm glad you had such a beautiful experience and I'm sure the students love you too.

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Julie Kertesz said...

Perhaps, we are less open when we are adolescents, adults, but in my experience, OLD age brings out, again, the child in us and not only we can remember but be more open and playful about it.

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